Here’s some of my better sightings through the end of August and into September, mostly butterflies (of course) but a few other things seen along the way.
On August 13, we went to Sevilleta NWR to participate in their annual NABA Butterfly Count. Our small group worked the area around the Visitor Center while another checked the area near the Rio Grande. Not as many butterflies as we’d seen on past counts there, but it was a treat to spot a Palmer’s Metalmark quite close to the Visitor Center that both groups got to see.
While looking for those butterflies, we’d notice a few other critters about including several good-sized millipedes,
and a different-looking robber fly than usual, which I suspect is Saropogon hypomelas.
Apparently, there are something like 207 species of robber flies in New Mexico, as I found on the excellent Robber Flies of New Mexico website and used to identify this one.
A couple of days later on a visit to Embudito Canyon, I’d see the first of the Canyonland Satyrs that would show up in good numbers in a variety of locations over the next several weeks,
and also spot my first Dotted Roadside-Skipper for the year, which I got to follow most of the way back down the wash as is flew ahead a short distance before letting me catch up.
A week later, I’d see most of the same butterflies including a Mexican Sootywing, which I’ve been seeing there since early July.
Keeping watch there in Embudito was a young Cooper’s Hawk.
Late in August, our new Nepali friends told us they had arranged a ride from Portales for their long Labor Day weekend in the hope of seeing some new ‘lifer’ butterflies. They quickly agreed to Rebecca’s inviting them to stay with her during their visit where we’d spend a couple days looking for those butterflies. Because the butterfly season is winding down for this year, that got us out checking a number of locations we might try during their visit.
One of those was Capilla Peak Road, a location usually good for butterflies but that we’d never been as late as August. We did see a nice mix of butterflies there on August 26 and thought it could work during Sajan and Anisha’s visit. Quite a surprise there was one of the first butterflies we’d see, a Colorado Hairstreak.
Typically, we’d see that species only in a few specific locations and some years not see any at all, but this year they’ve popped up regularly.
Two other butterflies from that day included Melissa Blue,
and Arizona Sister.
While all that was going on, we also came across a small family group of Mule Deer, which included a rather inquisitive fawn,
and later a rather large gopher snake.
A few days later, I took a look at a few butterflying spots near Socorro (Sevilleta, The Box, Water Canyon) as possibilities for the Labor Day weekend. That would end up being a backup plan; although a few butterflies were about it didn’t seem likely to turn up any of those lifer species. Among the butterflies seen were one or two Hackberry Emperors (The Box)
and large numbers of Bordered Patch (Water Canyon).
The Box also turned up a very small lizard, I suspect is a quite young Greater Earless Lizard, the adults of which are incredibly colorful in breeding season.
I’d hoped to find the Palmer’s Metalmark again at Sevilleta, but wasn’t successful. It was fun, tho, getting decent photos of one of the Walking Stick insects,
and of a Tarantula Hawk.
At the entrance to Water Canyon, I’d see a couple of Monarch butterflies (but not the major party we’d had there in 2021), and would see more at Piedras Marcadas Dam the next day. Fun to see, but not relevant to the upcoming lifer hunt.
We’d hoped Sajan and Anisha would arrive early enough on Friday for a quick trip to Embudito for a couple of good butterflies, but turns out they’d left around noon and got to Santa Fe later that afternoon. Rebecca picked them up there and instead they’d come to my house Saturday morning. We figured we’d do Embudito first, and maybe later try for Capilla Peak Road. I’d hoped to at least find Canyonland Satyr and Mexican Sootywing, which I could almost guarantee finding and would be lifers for them. And, indeed, we’d get those and several other lifer species spending quite a bit more time and exploring more of the area than I’d been expecting. One of those lifer species spotted by Sajan was a new one for my Embudito list and almost a record for Bernalillo County, the Golden-headed Scallopwing. (Other than a legacy record, one had been reported on BAMONA April 30, 2022.)
Deciding that was enough butterflying for Saturday, we considered our options for Sunday, which would be our last chance for a full-day outing to find some more lifers. Although it meant a long (405 mile) drive, Toriette Lakes could almost guarantee Nokomis Fritillary, an uncommon species found in very few locations. We’d seen this species there last year on September 7 and knew it would make a good addition to our friend’s list.
Last year, we’d seen few species other than the Nokomis and while we’d seen a number of males flying around we’d only see a very few females. Not much flying when we first arrived on Sunday, but eventually we’d see several males and (surprisingly) more females. This is a photo of the only male I found perched on a thistle,
and this is one of the better photos I managed of a female.
Mission accomplished! But we weren’t through that day as we’d spot several other species including a few more lifers for our friends and several new for us at that location. One of my favorites, which we’d seen before near Silver City (~100 miles south) is the Red-bordered Satyr.
Another excellent sighting was of a Northern White-Skipper.
This species, which we’d only seen once before (on a 2012 trip to the Sierra Nevada in California), is not only new for my New Mexico list but has only two non-legacy records on BAMONA, one of which is from Catron County on August 9, 2022. Once again, Sajan came through with his incredible skill at finding and recognizing one of our most unexpected species!