A Trip with New Nepali Friends

Starting out this post with a few photos from late July, mostly from a repeat visit to Seven Springs Fish Hatchery two weeks after our earlier visit. After that, I’ll talk about our two new friends from Nepal, Sajan and Anisha, and our four-day trip together to some butterfly spots around Ruidoso, Cloudcroft, and the Organ Mountains.

A visit to Seven Springs Fish Hatchery and nearby Calaveras Canyon in the Jemez Mountains on July 22 turned up some nice looks at both a mating pair of Southwestern Fritillary (the fritillary species commonly seen in the Sandias),

Southwestern Fritillary (Argynnis nausicaa)

and an occasional Great Spangled Fritillary.

Great Spangled Fritillary (Argynnis cybele)

A number of Silvery Checkerspot butterflies were also seen that day.

Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis)

We would see a few Pine White butterflies, of which we’ve only seen the male this year,

Pine White (Neophasia menapia)

and enjoyed seeing a Green Comma, brightly colored in this dorsal view,

Green Comma (Polygonia faunus)

and from the ventral view with its distinctive green submarginal spots on the hindwing.

Green Comma (Polygonia faunus)

A Silver-spotted Skipper, a species I usually see on bare ground, was resting on the yellow coneflower.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

This next image is of a female Taxiles Skipper included for comparison with a male shown way at the end of this post.

Female Taxiles Skipper (Poanes taxiles)

Dragonflies and damselflies were fairly common in the marshy habitat, and this is one that: 1) posed nicely, 2) I was able to identify, and 3) was the first of this species I’ve seen.

Pacific Spiketail (Cordulegaster dorsalis)

Over the next week there were a few other good butterflies in Embudito Canyon and other locations in the Sandias. These included a first of the season (and first for the location) Square-spotted Blue,

Square-spotted Blue (Euphilotes battoides)

a gorgeous Tailed Copper,

Tailed Copper (Lycaena arota)

and first of the season Green Skipper.

Green Skipper (Hesperia viridis)

Almost a week later, also at Embudito and first of the season, would be the quite similar Pahaska Skipper.

Pahaska Skipper (Hesperia pahaska)

That brings me to our butterflying trip with our new friends from Nepal and some photos from the trip. I’d first gotten several texts from Sajan K.C. last May after he’d found my blog and website. In those early texts, he’d mentioned he and his wife, Anisha Sapkota, were also crazy about butterflies and had a blog (https://butterflyworldnepal.blogspot.com/p/dual-checklist.html) about the nearly 700 species of butterflies in Nepal of which they are making good progress seeing, and adding nearly 20 new species to the list for Nepal. Soon after, he told me how he and Anisha recently moved to Portales, NM to obtain advanced degrees at ENMU in order to better pursue their butterfly passion. Unfortunately, without a vehicle they have been quite limited in being able to look for butterflies anywhere outside their immediate area. While trying to think of some way to help them out, Rebecca came up with the great idea of our picking them up in Portales to take a few days to look for butterflies in the mountains some three hours to the west. Sanjay and Anisha immediately agreed it was an excellent idea and it would turn out to be a quite fun adventure.

We left Albuquerque early Thursday morning arriving in Portales around 11 am, and soon headed out for Ruidoso where we’d spend a few hours at Cedar Creek Recreation Area. Some of the butterflies we’d see there included the Monarch,

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

both Edwards’s Skipperling

Edwards’s Skipperling (Oarisma edwardsii)

and Garita Skipperling,

Garita Skipperling (Oarisma garita)

a Tawny-edged Skipper (shown here along with an out of focus Garita Skipperling),

Tawny-edged Skipper (Polites themistocles)[L] & Garita Skipperling (Oarisma garita) [R]

and one of the many Field Crescents we’d see on the trip.

Field Crescent (Phyciodes pulchella)

Then it was on to Alamogordo, where we’d spend the next three nights after spending the day butterflying various locations in the area.

Friday morning we drove the short (20 miles) distance to Cloudcroft first stopping at Bailey Canyon. Although the butterflying was a little slow that morning due to some patchy clouds, we would see a few good species and planned to return the next day for another look. We then looked around a few other spots along NM 244, but weren’t having much luck even with some large meadows of purple thistle and yellow coneflower as the clouds continued to build. At one of our last stops, I did get a photo of a Satyr Comma, a species I don’t often see.

Satyr Comma (Polygonia satyrus)

At the same spot a mother House Wren and her fledglings were busy fussing at us and I got a few nice photos of one of the little ones.

House Wren (Juvenile)

Deciding to try for another spot that would likely have sunny skies that afternoon, we then headed back to Alamogordo and nearby Oliver Lee State Park. Sunny, yes, but way hot and breezy with very few butterflies out and about.

Saturday morning we first returned to Bailey Canyon hoping for better conditions and a few more butterflies. We would see some of the same species again, but with the clouds again piling up decided to try for a sunnier spot. One of my favorites seen on both days was a Colorado Hairstreak, perched right out in the open on a big flat leaf. We’d all get good photos of both the ventral view

Colorado Hairstreak (Hypaurotis crysalus)

and the best dorsal view I’ve ever gotten of one.

Colorado Hairstreak (Hypaurotis crysalus)

Our plan was to return to Alamogordo and make the relatively easy 70 mile drive to Soledad Canyon near Las Cruces, where we’d had good butterflies on past visits. With our driver (me) not paying any attention, however, we ended up on a more roundabout (120) mile route on US 54 instead of US 70 and were about to cross into Texas just north of El Paso before realizing our mistake. Nonetheless, we eventually reached our destination and after a bit of a slow start soon started seeing a few good butterflies. Whenever Sajan or Anisha would spot a butterfly, they would immediately take off after it, running up hills or crashing through the brush hoping to get a better look, a technique that regularly proved rewarding. Here’s the one photo I got of them high up a steep hill where they’d found a rather special butterfly.

Sajan & Anisha

That butterfly was a Red Satyr, which I had first spotted lower down and assumed from its behavior was probably a Canyonland Satyr, a species commonly seen in the Albuquerque foothills but that I’d only seen once before in Arizona. Sajan and Anisha would track down quite a few of them and get great photos. I’d finally get a good look at least of the top of one, but no photo, so here’s one Sajan sent.

Red Satyr (Megisto rubricata) ©Sajan K.C.

Next we decided to drive the short distance to Dripping Springs Natural Area, another good area on past trips, and where we’d walk the Arroyo Trail. That turned out to be a pretty good idea, turning up the usual American Snout

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)

and expected Hackberry Emperor (but not the Empress Leilia we’d hoped for).

Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)

More exciting was coming across both Red-spotted Purple (a species I’ve rarely seen)

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

and Western Giant Swallowtail (lifer!)

Western Giant Swallowtail (Heraclides rumiko)

The next morning it was time to head for home, returning through Ruidoso to Capitan and then Roswell and back to Portales. Once in Ruidoso, we decided to try for butterflies at Ski Apache but instead turned onto FR 117 to see what might appear. About 1.5 miles in, with Little Creek along the west side of the road, we’d spend a couple hours getting several new species for the trip and finally good photos of Arizona Sister. Here are the ones I ended up with of both the ventral

Arizona Sister (Adelpha eulalia)

and dorsal sides of a most cooperative individual.

Arizona Sister (Adelpha eulalia)

My last photo at that location was of a male Taxiles Skipper (remember the female way back at the start of this post?).

Male Taxiles Skipper (Poanes taxiles)

And, one more bird photo, this one a female Rufous Hummingbird nectaring on the purple thistle.

Female Rufous Hummingbird

It was great fun getting to meet and spend time with Sajan and Anisha, and a real treat to have such a good (and productive) trip with them. Hopefully, there will be opportunities in the future for more butterflying adventures with these new friends.

About joeschelling

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

10 Responses to A Trip with New Nepali Friends

  1. Rebecca Gracey says:

    Sajan and Anisha were very enthusiastic to get more lifers, right now! We had many long conversations over dinners with them about questions they have about living in another country. We were glad to be their U.S. contacts. They have now bought a used car but have to learn how to drive. They will return to Ruidoso as soon as Sajan gets his license. We hope future trips will bring them to Albuquerque where we will then drive them on day-trips north for more lifers!

  2. Really great blog – love the story with the “kids” a live memory for all around!  The Arizona Sister looks like a painting!  Not one I would paint, but it looks like it was hand-painted by the powers that be. 😊  stunning.

    Thanks,

    Johnna

  3. Steve Abbey says:

    Great pics, Joe!

  4. So many different beauties that we don’t see here in Finland. 🦋

  5. Great story Joe with great pictures, and very kind of you to drive your Nepalese friends around. I’ll check out their blog as well. Keep those stories coming!

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