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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Davis Mountains Preserve (continuation)

There were hundreds, probably thousands, of AZ Sisters butterflies at the preserve yesterday.

And Two-tailed Swallowtails were easy to locate and photograph there, although not quite as abundant as the sisters were.

I attribute a great deal of the butterfly activity to the profusely blooming horsemint. It was everywhere.

Queen on horsemint
American Lady on horsemint

Devil's Claw was abundant but I didn't notice butterflies at it. Not sure what this next plant is, maybe some kind of blue dayflower.

And finally, here's an enigmatic butterfly. Brian thinks it's an intergrade between a Common and a Tropical Buckeye.

And I think, "once an artist, always an artist." So I photo-shopped the above photo just for the fun of it. Maybe I have too much time on my hands. LOL

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Davis Mountains Preserve day

And what a day! Wow, overwhelming. I can't thank Kelly enough for arranging to take me there. It was threatening rain or we might have even tallied more species, but I would have been even more overwhelmed than I was. He and his helpers at the preserve banded while I entertained myself looking for odes and stuff. They banded at least four Calliope's among the nearly 70 hummers banded, so migration is underway.

Then we headed way back into the preserve to Richmond Crossing.

Immediately there were hundreds of Painted Damsels. Lifer number one for the day. I took 385 photos today, mostly of that species in all their various "plumages."

Before I recovered from that experience Kelly spotted an Amethyst Dancer, lifer number 2.

That dancer wouldn't leave that rock where he blended in so well I wouldn't have seen him if Kelly hadn't pointed him out.

And if that wasn't joy enough, I got 3 lifer butterflies. Here they are.

Mead's Wood-Nymph
Russet Skipperling
Slaty Roadside-Skipper
 That last one I shot out the car window when we were driving out. Kelly stopped at a place where water was crossing the road to scan for odes when I spotted it. Got off one frame before it disappeared so was relieved the only shot I had wasn't a blur, like usually happens when I don't take a bunch.

To be continued tomorrow. Meanwhile, here's a juvenile Western Bluebird perched on a bench near the hummingbird feeders.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Amberwings dilemma

Male  Eastern Amberwing. (Alpine this year)

Male Mexican Amberwing. (Oasis last year, first Texas record, if you recall. Subsequently I documented it at Lajitas also)

Male Mexican Amberwing. (Oasis this year) The interesting thing is that this individual has the same diagnostic pattern on the top of the abdomen as the Eastern. Since I've had both species at the oasis last year, I'm thinking hybrid. I don't know what the experts would say to that theory.

Odonata Central, the online database, which I consider the last word, accepted it as a Mexican, so it's official.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Got my Lajitas fix

Didn't take long in this heat. I got there shortly after 8 AM and left around 10:30 AM, but not before I snapped nearly 300 pics. Nothing new to me I don't think. Still working on IDs. But it was great getting familiar again with the species there, which are different than what I'm used to at CMO.

Here's a selfie (I really do need a selfie stick) to show you how tall the tumbleweeds are along the water at Lajitas. And of course all the salt cedar was blooming, which I'm allergic to. And of course I didn't think to take an allergy pill along. I'm dutifully wearing my UV glasses like the eye doctor ordered. I sure lose a lot of odes with my lack of peripheral vision though.

Those tumbleweeds came up to my shoulders as I slogged through them. Saw a Buckeye that by some experts is called the "dark form" Tropical Buckeye, although my personal expert, Brian, doesn't recognize that distinction.

Photographed some cool dragonflies. Here's a sampling.

Male Eastern Ringtail
Checkered Setwing
Four-spotted Pennant

Usually I'm lucky to see one or two Four-spotted Pennants at Lajitas, but today there were hundreds of them. I think Kelly once told me this flower is a bluebell. There's a lovely patch of that at Lajitas.

And here's a common one at Lajitas but I forgot what it was and had to ask Kelly. It's a Red-tailed Pennant.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A special day

I got to the oasis at 8 AM, checked the stucco tank level, and it had gone down less than 3 inches in exactly 3 days. Considering I left a drip on the cottonwood while I was gone and the weather has been brutally hot (evaporation), that's great news. A happy way to start my 75th birthday.

Finally re-plumbed the line inside the lower dirt tank. I had gotten the stuff to do it a long time ago, but one thing and another. However, this last fiasco with pumping the water back into the stucco tank was the last straw. It leaked about a third of the water out when it hadn't come apart totally and leaked all the water out. Not going to deal with that again. As usual, I forgot to take a before photo.

In the far background of the above photo is the line from the water (still a small puddle left) to the pump. From the pump the water goes through the 3" black fast line (or whatever it's called. It's heavy industrial stuff given to my late husband by a construction company) underground to the stucco tank. The pipe in the front center is coming from the upper dirt tank, which means water from that tank got double-pumped unless I went through the hassle of connecting a temporary line across the road. Now I've installed a T (open end capped at the moment) that I can hook to in a jiffy to go straight to the stucco tank and bypass the lower dirt tank. 

But that wasn't the main issue here. It was that the bend in the line was plumbed with white PVC that wouldn't fasten securely to the fast line, even with pipe cement and screws. I cut a piece of fast line to replace the PVC, and replaced the PVC elbows with a rubber elbow and rubber T that are clamped and screwed securely. I know that method works because it's in use other places at the oasis, though never with back-to-back elbows. That gas pump puts out a tremendous amount of pressure (think fire hydrant). Often the black pipe is under a foot of water when I need to do the bypass and very difficult to work with. Definitely could have been plumbed better in hindsight. The whole oasis just evolved as we went along without a blueprint or plan. The lower dirt tank was a later addition after the plumbing from the upper dirt tank was already buried underground.

Anyway, got that done by noon. It got beastly hot this afternoon (100° but humidity made it feel hotter). No mosquitoes, and very few odes or butterflies. Pretty boring, but I got some watering done, pulled some of the weeds, serviced the hummingbird feeders, and many other chores. Days are always gone too fast. Tomorrow it's Lajitas or bust. Next day banding. After banding I have to go pick more apples, but will put them in the refrigerator until I can get to them Thursday. Wednesday going with Kelly to Madera Canyon to look for odes. That's at the Lawrence Woods Picnic Area. He photographed a Painted Damsel there the other day. I have never gotten a good enough look at one, or a photo, so looking forward to that.

Today I took a bunch of photos of an amberwing but don't know yet if it's a Mexican or an Eastern Amberwing. I sent it to an expert. Will update this when I find out.

July 28: Some experts say it's an Eastern, but a leading expert, who I won't name, said he'd call it a Mexican Amberwing. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Worn crescents

The last couple of days the mosquitoes are gone from our ponds in town and the dragonfly numbers are way lower. Guess when they run out of mosquitoes they go elsewhere. Maybe I shouldn't hate mosquitoes... quite so much anyway. It's not as if I get welts from their bites either.

There aren't many butterflies here, and most of those around are pretty ragged around the edges. Here are a couple of crescents from yesterday and today.

Pearl Crescent

Vesta  Crescent
And here's a female Orange Sulphur that I tried unsuccessfully to make into a Clouded Sulphur, which would have been a lifer for me. The dark dots near the fringe of the forewing disabused me of that notion though.

I did find a pair of mating Variegated Meadowhawks. I'm not fast enough to get decent flight shots of it.


UPDATE: Odonata Central, an online database that I consider to be like a records committee, has accepted my submission of Striped Saddlebags. That makes it official! I can count it as a lifer.