It’s now been two weeks since my last update, and still surprising to me seeing something something new or different nearly every day often managing to get home with decent photos. This posting shows some of those photos from recent outings, mostly butterflies but with a few other creatures that caught my attention out there. On a successful visit to Oak Flat in search of a Spalding’s Blue prompted by our observation of their host plant, Redroot Buckwheat, a fresh Thicket Hairstreak also was nectaring on the buckwheat.
The next day a walk in Embudito turned up a Common Checkered-Skipper, not at all unusual to see but nicely posed.
Also seen hiding out in the hackberry trees was a Hackberry Emperor, a species I’ve been seeing there regularly this summer.
A few days later, another one would pose for me in The Box Recreation Area near Socorro, showing the ventral view.
On August 5, Rebecca and I did our butterfly survey again from Capulin to Balsam Glade, where it was a thrill to see our Colorado Hairstreak in the same location we’d seen it two weeks earlier.
We’d also see plenty of Tailed Copper butterflies there and on other outings. This one is a male from that day,
and this is a female from the next day on a trip to a new location, Lobo Canyon Road to San Mateo Spring near Grants, NM.
I had no idea of what might be found in that area or what condition that road might be in, but thought it might be worth checking after seeing some recent sightings from there on BAMONA (https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/). All turned out well, however, easily finding the road, which was in good condition, and good directions to the well-marked spring. And it turned up some delightful butterflies along the way. We stopped first at a spot where we noticed some James’ Buckwheat (host plant for the Square-spotted Blue mentioned in my last post) along a roadcut. While we didn’t see that butterfly (I’d mistaken a Lupine Blue there for a Square-spotted Blue), we did find a good amount of Redroot Buckwheat on top and would see several of the Spalding’s Blue nectaring on it.
Another butterfly we’d see there turned out to be an Uncas Skipper.
And then it was on to San Mateo Spring and a nearby meadow filled with purple aster. There were quite a few of those Tailed Copper butterflies floating about as well as good numbers of Pine White (a butterfly we’ve been seeing plenty of this year, but most years rather hard to find). I think I got some pretty good, close photos of them – this one a female
and this one a male.
While working the meadow, we did get a quick look at a fritillary flying by, a type of butterfly some years quite common but less so in recent years. Continuing the short distance on to San Mateo Spring, we were immediately rewarded with large numbers of fritillaries working the dandelions and providing good photo opportunities (along with even more Pine Whites and a few other species). These would turn out to be our Southwestern Fritillary (Note: there seems to be considerable differences of opinion in the taxonomy of this species.)
The next day took us on a tour to Sevilleta NWR, The Box Recreation Area, and Water Canyon. Sevilleta put on quite the wildflower display, but wasn’t very productive for butterflies. It was fun spotting some of the Walking Sticks camouflaged in the Broom Dalea – it wasn’t until I got home I noticed a second one in the background of this photo.
The Box Recreation Area was much better than on a hot, dry day in June when I’d stopped to scout it, and maybe even better than our previous visit in April. The first butterfly Rebecca spotted as we left the parking lot turned out to be a Ceraunus Blue, a species we rarely find.
We’d then find several of the Hackberry Emperor (ventral photo above), Common Sootywing, a Common Streaky-Skipper, and our first American Snout for the year.
In early July, after seeing several posts to the ‘Critters of New Mexico’ Facebook group of some of our incredible lizards, I posted a photo I’d taken some time ago (6/15/20) of a Greater Earless Lizard from The Box. Something I rarely do and have no idea how many ‘likes’ such posts usually get, it was quite a surprise watching the ‘likes’ adding up to an eventual total of 355. Hoping to see one again, that was an underlying objective of my visit in June this year. No luck then, but this day (8/7/21) I’d get a good look at one just as we were heading back to the car.
On our last visit in April, we were stunned to see a large number of Sonoran Metalmarks at Water Canyon, and it was a little surprising on this visit to see a few still around.
What made our day, however, was when we started seeing one or two Monarch butterflies checking out the immense amount of horsetail milkweed that lined the entrance road to Water Canyon. And then we started spotting Monarch caterpillars hiding in the milkweed, a total of 21 of them by the end of the day.
Even more of a thrill was spotting a couple of mating pairs of the 13 adults we’d see. Here are photos of two of those mating pairs, the first tucked high in a juniper,
and another close to the ground on a dead weed.
A couple of visits this past week to my ‘local patch’, Embudito, turned up some more interesting sightings. First was this rather scary-looking Giant Ichneumon Wasp.
Not to worry, tho, that long ‘stinger’ is actually the female’s ovipositor and not at all dangerous to humans.
Showing a friend around Embudito a couple of days later would turn up several Common Wood-Nymphs (one of three species added to my Butterflies of Embudito Canyon list this year),
and the first Arizona Sister seen since June.
Last Thursday, I went to Cienega Canyon to look for butterflies and was a little surprised not to see many around. Checking the small stream near the picnic tables at the upper parking lot, still no butterflies but I was treated to a female or immature Broad-tailed Hummingbird hovering above the water and then dropping down for a splash or a drink. It didn’t seem to notice me at all and kept doing that for a minute or two, so I tried a couple of photos (having brought my new Sony RX10iv camera along instead of the Nikon I usually bring for butterflies)…here’s one of the better ones.
Similar to my Facebook experience about the lizard above, I thought to submit it to the ‘Birding New Mexico’ Facebook group. Folks must’ve liked that one, too, so far it’s gotten 433 likes!
Had that camera again yesterday when I checked out the Albuquerque Open Space Visitor Center. Not too busy with butterflies there, either, but the small pond has some water in it again and I got this shot of a Snowy Egret.
Just another day and just another amazing sighting.