With the arrival of the Autumn Equinox two days ago, we’re seeing summer give way to fall and that’s reflected in changes seen out in the natural world. Butterflies are winding down for the year and I’m starting to take more note of the birds arriving on their migratory journey. Not seeing too many of either lately, so this post has a few photos of other sightings over the last couple of weeks.
First up is a Prairie Rattlesnake seen relaxing by a small water pool at Sevilleta NWR during their annual Insect/Moth Night. Everybody got a nice look as the leader talked about it while it remained motionless and didn’t react at all to our presence. The snake did wander off somewhere and wasn’t seen there later.
A couple days later wandering around Pueblo Montano I’d spot a young Cooper’s Hawk along the ditch acting a little strange, but likely calling its parents for a snack.
Pushing the end of summer, the yellow sunflowers and purple asters are showing up and the chamisa is starting to come into bloom in some areas, but still a few more weeks before the aspen and cottonwood trees take on their autumn colors. Another flower seen this time of year is the Morning Glory.
The next day while walking near Calabacillas Arroyo, I got this photo of an Olive-sided Flycatcher (I’m assuming from the ‘vest’) that surprised me how well it came out from quite a distance away way at the top of a tall cottonwood.
Very few butterflies around the next day at Embudito, but I had fun with a female Ladder-backed Woodpecker working the cholla for insects.
One morning at Piedras Marcadas, I walked a bit further than I ever had there (~2.5 miles), taking it quite slowly while keeping an eye out for butterflies, other small insects, and anything else that showed up on a very quiet morning. Butterfly-wise, I would see a Queen, a few Reakirt’s Blues, and had a quick fly-by of what might have been a Black Swallowtail or possibly even a Red-spotted Purple. There were also a few Western Pygmy-Blues, our smallest butterfly and one I’d been trying for a decent ventral view for some time now. Here’s the best I got that morning.
That was one of the few butterfly images I’ve ever posted to Facebook, which surprised me getting 28 likes and 8 comments.
While working to get a photo of one of the few dragonflies flying about,
a few folks off in the distance were excited about something they were seeing; when I turned that way I saw this healthy specimen making its way through the petroglyphs.
Along the way, I came across a set of petroglyphs that years ago struck me as the most impressive and mystical of the whole place. (My friend, Terri, might remember me trying to track it down on her last visit here.) All these handprints (some with six fingers) in a small protected area along with a few other symbols seems to signify some particular significance to this site.
Another trip to Embudito a few days later turned up my first Rock Wren for the year.
Butterfly numbers have been really low lately, but I’d still see one or two Canyonland Satyrs, getting perhaps my best photo of one this year as well.
A few times this past week have seen me out in the East Mountains taking a look around Ojito de San Antonio and then higher in the mountains at Capulin Spring and Balsam Glade. I’d been seeing reports of Lewis’s and Acorn Woodpecker at Ojito recently; I’d only seen Lewis’s there once in 2018 and never Acorn (although lately they’re being seen more regularly in Mars Court). Luck was with me that day, at least for Lewis’s, and I got a few decent photos, including this one flying over
and of one perched on its usual power pole.
Capulin Spring wasn’t quite as active for me on my visit (probably due to unexpected clouds), so I missed out on the big flock of Evening Grosbeak (40+) and other goodies folks have been reporting. In the area, though, I would get nice shots of a couple of butterflies, including this Hoary Comma perched on one of the many purple asters that have popped up recently,
and a Queen at Balsam Glade, a little unusual to see that high in elevation.
Not expecting much, but thinking it worth a visit since it has been awhile next had me looking around the Rio Grande Nature Center. Way high in a cottonwood was a Summer Tanager calling regularly, and again resulting in a better photo than I expected.
Only a very few butterflies (as usual) seemed to be flying around the garden areas, but one of them posed for probably my best shot ever of an Orange Sulphur.
Stopping at Columbus Park on the way home confirmed a tip I’d received about the Western Screech-Owl having returned to its usual cavity.
Finally, from today at Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area, a Monarch
and a Gray Buckeye.