Quite a few pictures this time of the usual butterflies and birds, but also a few other interesting sightings during the last couple of weeks from mid-April into early May. On February 21, I’d noticed a Great Horned Owl taking up her usual nesting cavity in Corrales, but hadn’t had any indication of little ones until April 20 (and even then only by looking closely at the photos at home later and seeing that little puffball low in the cavity).
Returning on May 4 (and waiting around a bit), two of the three little ones made it up out of the cavity to look around.
On February 28, I’d seen nesting going on at another nest from last year across the river from the Biopark. Checking in on them on April 23 showed success there as well, with at least two little ones taking in the scene from quite high in a cottonwood.
That same day, at the Rio Grande Nature Center, I’d come across a good-sized flock of Cedar Waxwings busy working the New Mexico Olive trees.
Of my other owl nests this year, the one near the Rio Grande Nature Center we’d first spotted on February 21 disappeared sometime in mid-April, possibly from being destroyed during excessively high winds. Haven’t made it back to any of the other nests, and it doesn’t seem likely the owls near Calabacillas Arroyo will be nesting this year.
On April 21, we were off in search of butterflies first at Three Gun and then Ojito de San Antonio. Highlight of the day at Three Gun was the first of two Yucca Giant-Skippers we’d spotted parked right on the trail.
Although we were a little disappointed in how few butterflies were out that day, we’d spot a Sandia Hairstreak, whose numbers seem to have dropped off recently although I expect will pick up again soon.
We’d also see two Scott’s Orioles calling to each other while staking out their territories. Not the best photo, but the best I’ve gotten so far this year.
Ojito de San Antonio turned up a few goodies, although not as amazing as that earlier visit on April 8. We would get another nice Thicket Hairstreak
and another Great Purple Hairstreak,
but it was surprising to see quite a few White-lined Sphinx Moths this early in the year,
and a Rocky Mountain Clearwing Moth.
April 24 had us out checking on Sulphur Canyon and Las Huertas where we’d add another Yucca Giant-Skipper and a few other butterflies. The next couple of days found me poking around in Embudito where I’d see a few new birds for the year. These include one of several Canyon Wrens who seem intent on nesting,
a Bushtit collecting nesting material,
a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker (one of a pair that nested here last year),
a Cactus Wren nesting in a yucca right on the trail,
a nesting Curve-billed Thrasher a little further away from the trail (and who seems to have since abandoned the nest),
one of several Black-chinned Sparrows (a species typically hard to get close enough to for a photo),
my first look this year at a Black-chinned Hummingbird,
and the usual Gambel’s Quail (who’s little ones should soon put in an appearance).
Embudito on April 26 would turn up the first Lupine Blue of the year.
Earlier this year, Litocala Moths were getting out of hand making it difficult to locate any butterflies there, and now, the Eight-spotted Forester Moths are adding to the confusion – still a nice-looking bug, tho.
No good story for this one, but while wandering around Pueblo Montano on April 27, this pair of Painted Turtles posed nicely for a portrait.
April 28 had us checking out The Box and Water Canyon near Socorro NM, where we’d successfully spot most of the butterflies we were expecting there about now. The Box provided good looks at the Orange Skipperling
and the Common Streaky-Skipper.
Also seen there were several small, dark butterflies that turned out to be new for us at that location, the Saltbush Sootywing.
Before we got a close enough look at them, I’d noticed one hitting a wildflower that was new to me and I think is Yellow Desert Flax (Linum puberulum).
It was fun to see a Greater Earless Lizard there, too, not quite as colorful as it should get in the next few weeks.
Pretty quiet a little later at Water Canyon, but we finally spotted a small plant next to the road that attracted a number of good species, including several Viereck’s Skipper (one had been seen earlier at The Box),
and a Morrison’s Skipper (first of the year).
New for the year, a Northern Cloudywing graced us with its presence during our butterfly survey in Embudito on May 2.
I had no idea what that grasshopper-like guy was facing off with the cloudywing, but of course the astonishing Seek app tells me is a Mexican Bush Katydid.
Coming full circle for this post, yesterday’s visit to Corrales to see the Great Horned Owlets turned up a couple of other good bird photos. One was a Spotted Towhee on the power line between me and the nest cavity.
Another was one of several Ash-throated Flycatchers, the first I’ve seen this year.
News to me, however, was how unusual this same bird looks from head-on.
One last picture from the North Diversion Channel. On April 20, I’d seen an Osprey pair apparently thinking of starting a nest on the western tower. They’d used it in the past until the nest blew down, and for some reason chose not to use the big nest they’d built on the eastern tower. Yesterday, they were hanging out on the eastern tower, but still seemed to prefer building a new nest there rather than use the old one.
Only time will tell if they ever get serious about nesting this year and if they’ll try with a new nest or end up in the old one.