So here we are in September already with August in the rear-view mirror and autumn almost upon us. Not too many pictures this time, but on what started out as an unusually cloudy day (due to the remnants of a Pacific hurricane passing through), it seemed a good time for a blog update. On several days in a row following my August 14 posting, I’d gone to Embudito Canyon in search of the Mead’s Wood-Nymph reported a few days earlier. This was a most unusual event, only the second time one had ever been reported in Bernalillo County. On my first try, hiking further up Embudito Canyon than I’d gone in years and just as I was about to turn around, I totally lucked into seeing it and getting enough of a photograph to allow it to be identified by our regional expert at Butterflies and Moths of North America (Nowhere near as good as other folks’ photos so won’t show it here). Three other attempts to find it that week were unsuccessful, although there would be a large number of Common Wood-Nymph.
This year was the first time I’ve seen Common Wood-Nymph in lower Embudito Canyon, but there have been quite a few seen this year ever since. Also numerous this year has been Canyonland Satyr.
It seems a little late this year, but the Fiery Skippers are also showing up again.
Other photos from those trips to Embudito included this hummingbird (a friendly individual who let me get rather close, but I can only identify as a female or immature, but probably a Black-chinned Hummingbird)
and a couple of mule deer browsing the hillside.
On that first hike higher up Embudito, another large rock formation caught my eye. Is it just me or is this some ancient warrior staring into the distance?
That weekend, Rebecca and I driving around some of the back roads on the east side of the mountains outside Las Vegas NM. Some good photos from that day were those of several pronghorn, both individuals and family groups standing close to NM 120 on our way back to Wagon Mound; my favorite is this mother with one of her little ones.
The next Monday, we met at Piedras Marcadas Dam to look for Monarchs (and hopefully their eggs, caterpillars and chrysalises) in the large field of Horsetail Milkweed at the base of the dam. We would indeed see quite a few adult Monarchs, but none of those other stages.
It was depressing to see that AMAFCA (Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority) had started mowing the entire field that day, and had completed the job by our visit a week later. They probably need to do that now and then to allow the dam to function properly, but you’d think they could wait until after butterfly breeding was complete.
At least in the area they hadn’t yet gotten to, we saw several other butterfly species working the milkweed, including a Queen,
a Black Swallowtail,
and even a Great Purple Hairstreak.
The following day, we made another trip up north on the west side of the mountains south of Taos NM, and eventually wandering back toward Santa Fe on the southern section of the ‘High Road to Taos’. During the day we’d see quite a few Black-billed Magpies in open valleys, and tried to get good photos of them. Not quite in focus, but still kind of fun was this one as the bird flew right past me.
At our lunch stop at a campground in the mountains, we had fun seeing large numbers of fritillaries, which included both the Southwestern Fritillary and Great Spangled Fritillary. At several places, we’d see both species sharing the same cutleaf coneflower.
Following are photos of an individual of each species, which I find easiest to identify by the ventral view. First, the Southwestern
and next the Great Spangled.
Last Saturday had us returning to Seven Springs Fish Hatchery, near Fenton Lake in the Jemez Mountains, and later to the Gilman Tunnels on the hunt for more butterflies. Seven Springs was good for the Southwestern and Great Spangled Fritillary, but also had large numbers of Green Comma, a species we haven’t seen very often.
We’d also see several American Snouts and a Bordered Patch, both species that are being seen everywhere this summer. In the past, we’d only see them in a few locations if at all.
Seven Springs turned up a female Purplish Copper
and a Variegated Fritillary, whose unusually dark coloring had us confused for awhile.
A highlight for me was seeing several Sachem on the chamisa near Gilman Tunnels. The Sachem is common and widespread across the southern U.S., but this is the first I’ve seen in New Mexico.