Haven’t had the opportunity for many photos since my last post (until last Sunday…will save those for my next post). But wanted to share a few of those from a quick trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) in Texas early this month. A few months ago, realizing our Nepali friends wouldn’t be seeing any butterflies for awhile in Portales NM and that ENMU (where they’re in grad school) would be on winter break, we’d suggested taking them to the LRGV for a few days in early January where they’d definitely get to see a few new butterflies. They’d picked up on our idea and decided to vacate their apartment, fly to McAllen TX, find an affordable AirBnB, and spend the entire month of December mostly at the National Butterfly Center. We’d then meet them on January 6 for a few more days before giving them a ride back to Portales and a new apartment in time for the next semester.
Their trip worked out incredibly well for them, getting to be quite popular with everyone at the National Butterfly Center, making connections with many other butterfliers, some of whom would take them to some of the other butterfly sites in the area, and having great fun looking for butterflies. While there, they’d see (and photograph) an excellent number of butterfly species, including 84 ‘lifers’, and getting the first record of a live Mexican M hairstreak seen in the U.S.
After we caught up with them at the National Butterfly Center, we spent the rest of the afternoon there seeing a few butterflies for ourselves, before heading over to the Alamo Inn B&B where we’ve stayed on all of our previous LRGV trips, and spend the next four days checking out a few other spots in the area. Those included Santa Ana NWR, Hidalgo Pumphouse, Oleander Acres RV Park, Frontera Audubon, Estero Llano Grande State Park, Resaca de la Palma State Park, Loma Alta, Boca Chica, and South Padre Island, along with several more visits to the National Butterfly Center. We’d get to see two of our own lifers on the trip, the Blue-eyed Sailor that Rebecca spotted at Santa Ana NWR,
and the Mexican Silverspot. Anisha & Sajan had seen it earlier, and my first one was at Oleander Acres that Rebecca also saw. We’d all later see it at the National Butterfly Center.
A couple of the other butterflies we’d see were large numbers of the Queen butterfly, including this mating pair,
and a Great Purple Hairstreak (the butterfly that got me hooked when Rebecca pointed one out to me in Hondo Canyon in 2011).
We occasionally see the next few butterflies in New Mexico, but they’re always fun to photograph, including the Gulf Fritillary,
and Vesta Crescent.
Some other good ones we see in the LRGV, but not in New Mexico include the Brown Longtail,
Mexican Bluewing (several were seen but I wasn’t able to get a great photo),
Curve-winged Metalmark (one of three metalmark species we’d see that week),
and Dusky-blue Groundstreak.
In addition to the butterflies we were always looking for, were some pretty good birds that we rarely (or never) see at home. At the Alamo Inn B&B, we’d have some very cooperative Inca Doves (a species we have seen in New Mexico).
Some others, all of which we saw at the National Butterfly Center, include the Chachalaca,
and Great Kiskadee.
We’d also get nice looks at two different Eastern Screech-owls, one in a nest box and the other in a tree cavity.
(After looking at the latest New Mexico Bird Checklist issued by the New Mexico Ornithological Society, all of the birds above other than the Chachalaca have been recorded in New Mexico at least once, but can’t say as I’ve ever seen any of them in New Mexico.)
Long drive home, broken up by a delightful overnight stay with Rebecca’s niece and brother-in-law, dropping off Sajan and Anisha at their new apartment in Portales the next day, and back to Albuquerque by late afternoon. Definitely a fun trip for us and I think a wonderful experience for our friends.
Very nice series of images! Enjoyed seeing them!
Butterfly number 1 is my fav!
Always fun to see a new one; wish I’d realized what was wrong with my camera settings that day.
I love the photo of the giant swallowtail. Such fabulous colors!
Glad you liked. You should be able to see that one anywhere in Virginia during the summer – usually a little trickier getting close enough for a good look.