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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pushing my limits

Saw lots more lifer butterflies today and at least one lifer dragonfly. But sure have worn myself down. Took the afternoon off to rest except for an hour in mid-afternoon when I visited a nearby butterfly hotspot, where I racked up this lifer Brown-banded Skipper. I even ID'd it myself. I like those that are easy to tell apart from others.

This resort treats me so wonderfully. That's worth a lot. The manager brought me fresh picked grapefruit and banana today, grown right here on the property. And he brought me a lovely picnic table. I bought a little clip-on LED light so I'm settling in better and better.

And as IDs are coming in from various experts, I keep discovering more lifers. On my trip I made a quick stop at a little park near the San Felipe Springs in Del Rio and picked up a Golden-winged Dancer, which is pretty rare. One I never expected I'd get.

 Getting sleepy but must include a pic of my lifer Mexican Scarlettail.

And I love this Red-bordered Metalmark, also a lifer.

More goodies to come.....

Valley camping

I survived my first night camping. It cooled off enough that I could sleep decently in spite of the endless drone of freeway traffic nearby. Can't stand up in the tent, which makes my back worse. No mosquito problem so far. The campground is very safe and friendly (Americana Resort in Mission)

Saw good butterflies yesterday at the National Butterfly Center. Several lifers. Here's my favorite, a Mexican Bluewing.

They put out food for the butterflies there on logs and stumps, which attracts tons of butterflies.

Here's another lifer for me, a Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak.  I only saw this one.

But saw many of my lifer White Peacock. This photo is as busy as a fruitcake (no bokeh), but it's the best one I got.

This next lifer is a Brown Longtail. So fun!

I have more lifers too, but can't waste time blogging when there's lifers to be had!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lots of winter birds at CMO

Got up early and set up a sprinkler and couldn't believe all the birds it attracted. Three species of spizella sparrows: Clay-colored, Brewer's, and Chipping.

Didn't get a shot of the Brewer's. Only saw one Lucifer Hummingbird still around today, this juvenile male. Couldn't get all his gorget feathers, such as they are, to fluoresce on the same shot. He's a cutie.


A couple unexpected species were an Oregon Junco and Gray-headed Junco. Last year I didn't have any juncos, and other years I usually have mostly the Pink-sided subspecies.

Only saw the Oregon Junco at a distance, so not a good shot.

 Hoping that some of the good species will stay the winter. Like a Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, and Spotted Towhee. I know the Green-tailed Towhee will stay. They do every year.

Tomorrow I intend to head for the valley. I stress a little about the trip. I don't like to travel, but it beats sitting here for the next five months without any decent oding, or butterflying.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hard days lately

Yesterday my husband needed a refrigerator moved out of a rent house to be replaced with a different one. At the last minute the guy he had hired to help couldn't make it. The tenant had already stayed home from work and emptied the refrigerator. So I volunteered my services. The new refrigerator wasn't a problem to handle but coming down the steps with the old one, I was supposed to prevent it from going down too fast. Well, it went down real fast and ripped a bunch of skin off my husband's arm. That refrigerator must have weighed twice what the new one did.

I bandaged his arm good (as in, won't get blood on the sheets). So I wanted to water at CMO and get back to town to change the bandage after his shower tonight. However, when I got here there was a bad leak in the line going out of the stucco tank. Thankfully, all the leakage went into the tank but without fixing it, the pump would either have to be turned off while I'm gone, or it would run all the time. I really want to keep the water drip going on the cottonwood tree, so I got my long-suffering son to come fix it. I still had this afternoon to water. I tried. For 3 hours I drug and forced my weary body to water, but I just couldn't finish. So I have to stay overnight and finish tomorrow. I think I'm over my bronchitis but it sure has left me weakened. Hope it's just temporary.

My plan is to head to the Rio Grande Valley in a couple of days. Once everything is watered I need to get going so I'll be back when it needs watering again. A week is about all the time I can spare so however long I hang around cuts days off my week.

The Flame Acanthus at the oasis are covered with yellow butterflies. Most, if not all, are Sleepy Oranges, Southern Dogfaces, and Cloudless Sulphurs.

I'm still fixated on amberwings. I've always been intrigued by interesting rocks, especially rocks like agates and amber, plus had a passion for stained glass. Even took classes and learned how to do it years ago. And since my place had the first documented Mexican Amberwing in Texas, that adds a level of interest. However, this year my pondweed died and amberwings love the pondweed. They land on little stems of it and forage over it. The only thing I can think of is that for awhile we had back to back rains and the pondweed must have stayed submerged too long. There are a few tiny patches of it surviving but no landing stems. Today an Eastern Amberwing perched on a twig along the sides of the tank ...

...and kept making forays out over a tiny patch of pondweed. A frog lurking there looked like a good landing spot but something told the dragonfly not to do that. It came so close a few times, but realized the danger and rocketed off. It happened so fast that this is the closest to the frog that I could capture an image of it.

Different mix of hummers these day. Quite a few Anna's, a couple of Rufous, a Black-chinned, and two male Lucifers (one a juvenile).

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Getting ready

Going to water things at CMO tomorrow and then pack for my trip to the Rio Grande Valley. Hope I'm well enough. Meanwhile, I wander around looking for butterflies. There aren't any dragonflies to speak of. Here's a good pic (for me) of a Sachem Skipper.

And this next one is a Cloudless Sulphur. Ordinary stuff for me, but soon I'll be enjoying exciting new species.

Here's a moth that is likely a new species for me. No idea what it is though. I just can't get "into" moths. To me, they're the insects that ate all our woolens when I was growing up in Iowa.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

CMO gorgeous today

I didn't have long to spend or I'm sure I would have tallied some awesome birds and butterflies. Amazingly, for the first time ever, the mulberry trees put on a fall crop. Not as large as the spring crop, but quite amazing. I hate that the oasis is at its best in the fall when visitors almost never visit.

I saw a couple of really interesting warblers at the mulberry trees. Unfortunately, couldn't get good enough looks or photos for ID.

I know I'm observing some of the last Lucifer Hummingbird visits for the year, but spring comes soon.

The ruta graveolens has an ever increasing number of cats munching away on it. I've lost track of how many. And look at the lovely results. Black Swallowtails galore.

I'm still trying to get all my butterfly pics ID'd. If there turn out to be any interesting species, I'll update.

UPDATE: Brian ID'd my pics and one was a new species for CMO, although I've had it in town. It's a Tawny Emperor, as I suspected. I only got one chance to photograph it while it was landed high in a tree and my photos were not good, possibly because the butterfly was fluttering and not still, plus the dappled shade. I was just glad it was IDable. Their host plant is the hackberry tree. It's great that my numerous hackberries have finally attracted their attention.