Birds and Butterflies into mid-November

Since my last posting on October 24, the weather has continued to be quite nice and here it is November 15 and we still haven’t had our first freeze. It’s been somewhat surprising to still being seeing a good variety of butterflies out and about, and fun starting to see a few more of our migrating birds. The cottonwoods have just been glowing for the last few weeks, but are now starting to fade as we move closer to winter.

Cottonwoods – Rio Grande Bosque

Among those butterflies I’ve been seeing at Embudito recently have been a Hoary Comma,

Hoary Comma (Polygonia gracilis)

usually several Lupine Blues,

Lupine Blue (Plebejus lupini)

and plenty of Western Pygmy-Blues.

Western Pygmy-Blue (Brephidum exile)

There’s usually a few others about, such as Common Checkered-Skipper, Clouded Sulphur, Dainty Sulphur, and Checkered White, and until quite recently a few American Snout. Here’s the ventral view of an American Snout,

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)

and here’s the dorsal view.

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)

On a visit to Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area, we again saw a Question Mark on October 30 in the same area it’d been seen on September 3.

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

Back in Embudito have been some fun interactions with a few birds. One day, I saw a Cactus Wren flying with a bit of fluff to its winter roosting nest, disappearing inside for a few seconds before flying off to a nearby perch.

Cactus Wren

I got aligned with that nest entrance and waited for awhile hoping to catch it returning, but after a few minutes decided to move along as my presence might have bothered the bird. A little later, I got good looks at the male Ladder-backed Woodpecker that hasn’t let me get very close this year.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

A few days later, I spotted a Greater Roadrunner jumping around the boulders near the ridgetop and got my camera squared away in case it took flight.

Greater Roadrunner

That worked, but I’m still looking to get that shot with the wide-open wings you sometimes get to see.

Walking along the Corrales Ditch one day, I noticed a Great Horned Owl near its usual nesting spot and would hear that both adults were seen the next day.

Great Horned Owl

In my last post, I mentioned seeing one near Calabacillas Arroyo on October 23 while this one was seen November 2; it seems quite unusual to me to be seeing them before February.

A couple days later at Los Poblanos Open Space, I’d see another Greater Roadrunner up close. There are usually a couple of them around the community garden, rather friendly apparently as the resident owners of the garden.

Greater Roadrunner

The next day, a visit to Tingley ponds turned up a few ducks, a noisy Marsh Wren, and Belted Kingfisher, but I wasn’t able to get decent photos of any of those. On the front ponds, tho, a female Wood Duck posed nicely,

Female Wood Duck

as did what turned out to be a Green-winged Teal/Mallard Hybrid (as we saw when it woke up and paddled off with a big yellow bill).

Green-winged Teal/Mallard Hybrid

Last Tuesday, I made a run down to Bosque del Apache NWR (and would return on Saturday). It was fun to spot a few good birds, most new for the season, and interesting to note different birds in different locations just a few days apart. There still isn’t much water on the refuge, but the ponds are starting to fill just in time for the ducks, geese, and raptors to arrive. Surprising to me was to see an adult Bald Eagle this early, hanging out on its usual snag despite the limited water in the large pond.

Bald Eagle

Interestingly, we didn’t see the adult on Saturday, but instead there was a young (3rd year) Bald Eagle on that snag. Fun for me on Tuesday was seeing quite a few female Northern Harriers and having them cruise by at fairly close range.

Northern Harrier

At one spot, I noticed a coyote quietly making its way through a meadow when a pair of Northern Harrier buzzed it a couple of times; didn’t quite get that photo, but here’s one of the coyote with a Northern Harrier keeping an eye on it from a resting perch.

Coyote watched by a Northern Harrier

Not too busy at the Visitor Center, except for one quite noisy bird bustling about in some bushes right by the parking lot. After minutes of all that business it finally popped out into a bare tree…Pyrrhuloxia!


On my way home, I thought to take a look at Ladd S. Gordon Wildlife Area. Early this year, I’d gotten some good photos of both male and female Northern Harriers and once had several White-throated Sparrows in one location. Several years ago, we’d had large numbers of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese there, which the wildlife folks told us they used as a staging area for encouraging them to continue on to Bosque del Apache NWR in time for the annual Festival of the Cranes (unfortunately held virtually the last two years due to Covid). There were a few Sandhill Cranes, but few other birds seen this time. Seems a little late for dragonflies, but I would see a few of them around including this mating pair.

Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)

Today, after several attempts I finally got a good look at the Hooded Mergansers at Rio Grande Nature Center. There seem to be a couple of mated pair, but only one of the males came close enough for a photo.

Hooded Merganser

Should be fun over the next few weeks tracking down a few more of our winter visitors, but surely we’re about done with butterflies for the year.


About joeschelling

Birding, butterflies, nature photography, and travel blog from right here in Albuquerque New Mexico.
This entry was posted in Birding, Butterfly, Critters, Dragonflies, Photographs. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Birds and Butterflies into mid-November

  1. Mike Powell says:

    I love the fact, Joe, that you see some of the same species that I observe in Northern Virginia, but there are also a lot of ones that I definitely do not get to see, like Roadrunners and Cactus Wrens. I smiled when I saw your dragonfly photo, reassured by the fact that I am not the only one who searches for these little aerial acrobats. We have had multiple frosts already and it has gotten down to 33 degrees some nights, so I don’t expect to see insects for too much longer. I love too variety of tiny butterflies that you photographed for this posting–a real testament to your observational and photographic skills.

  2. Interesting post, full of nice critters.

  3. M.B. Henry says:

    Such pretty pictures – I love the owl! I haven’t been lucky enough to capture one of those yet 🙂

  4. Rebecca Gracey says:

    You captured the golden glory of the cottonwoods in your picture. It’s a great shot.

  5. Always enjoy. Great photography and commentary. Keep up the good work. Cindy

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