ghostly gray owl hides
staring from an old oak wood
so bright is the moon

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Becard Folly

We have been staking out the Rose-throated Becard for a week. Yesterday we were at Estero Llano at sun up. It was a holiday so there were about fifty people there by 9:00, all peering into the trees until their eyes hurt. No bird, maybe spooked by too many people? We gave up and left in early afternoon. The crowd thinned and at 4:10 the Becard showed up.

This morning we arrived at about 9:00. The bird had been visible 10 minutes earlier. This bird has our patterns figured out. There were far viewer people today, maybe a dozen, so we hung around looking for the bird and taking photos of butterflies. 

We sat at a picnic table talking to May Snider, all of us with one eye peeled for the bird. The conversation eventually turned to food and diet. Our bodies were eventually overcome by desire and they rebelled. We went up to the Blue Onion for lunch, then a pit stop at Feldman's Liquor on the way home. Wine - Beer - Fun their sign says. I went for the beer. We already had some box wine at the apartment and I do not believe I can afford the Fun.

Okay, here are some photographs I took today that I found interesting, or just liked the photographs for some reason. The first is a Orange Satyr, which interesting because it is actually not a butterfly, but a moth. Why? I do not know; I do not make the rules.

The next bug is a Sickle-winged Skipper. I posted photos of this one earlier, but this one clearly shows the curled wingtips. Sometimes evolution has a very quirky sense of humor.

White-patched Skipper

Red-bordered Metalmark

I assume The Bird is out ... basking in the sun, visible - singing and dancing.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Orange-crowned Warbler Bath

This is a warbler described as being non-descript. Its orange crown is almost never visible. My Sibley Field Guide says they are "uncommon", but certainly not in here along the Rio Grande. If you guess that any vague, hard to identify small bird here is an Orange-Crowned Warbler, the odds are pretty good that you will be correct.

Be well, be clean, - Gunnar

Lemonade: Have Another Round

More butterflies without name tags - except for a couple which are a bit ominous.

Sickle-winged Skipper

Fatal Metalmark   (correction: Red-bordered Metalmark)

Fluttering by -Gunnar

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Battalion of Butterflies

The Monarch caterpillar feeds almost exclusively on Milkweeds from which it absorbs a toxin, cardiac glycosides. This makes the adult butterfly poisonous, or at least very distasteful. Predators learn this fast. One or two might get eaten and spit out, but the rest get a free pass to the mountains of central Mexico. A few other butterflies have apparently evolved to mimic the Monarch, the closest copy is probably the Viceroy, which is very similar to a smallish Monarch except with a black line across its hindwing. I believe its range could put it down here, but I have not seen one. 

Here is a hierarchy of some butterflies I did photograph today. 

Queens are all over south Texas. Close-winged they look similar to a Monarch, though noticeably smaller. Open-winged the ribs are not noticeable and to my eye they are brown rather than orange-tone. 

There are 73.2 Queens for every Monarch in Hildago County. Give or take.

That famous migrator, her majesty the Monarch, is the toughest, strongest butterfly in North America, maybe in the world. Some butterflies have wings so thin they are a wisp in the air and are wind tattered in a matter of a day or two. The Monarch hindwing exteriors are cream, the rest of the wing surfaces are a rusty orange with black ribs visible inside and out.

Factoid: It is a little known fact that the Monarch wing is actually made of 3-ply birch plywood.

And for every 37.3 Monarchs there is one Soldier. I guess that makes them fairly rare and local. I saw a couple today that I took to be Soldiers, not positive but leaning strongly in that direction. I think I read that the Soldier caterpillar also feeds on milkweeds so it probably tastes like a Monarch too. 

And just for the name, I will throw in an Admiral. A beautiful thing, spread or closed.

Getting late, goodnight  - Gunnar

When Fate Gives Me Lemons

A little slow for birds this year - my deteriorating eyesight may be contributing to that, but I don't think so. Still, an amazing year for butterflies. Here is some of the lemonade I made this morning. I have a stack of books, a memory (and wife), so I either know, or can rapidly find the I.D. of all of these bugs, but I have a couple of friends who couldn't make it down here this year and they are butterflying vicariously through me and I don't want to steal the pleasure from them. ;-)

I apologize for the quality of the Zebra Heliconian photos below, but it is almost like they are born, live and die airborne, and when this longwing stopped rowing through the air for a heartbeat or two and floated down into the shadows, I panicked, and rather than taking a deep breath, slowly counting to three and changing my settings, I just pulled the trigger, and took several megapixels of junk mail.

Next, butterfly royalty, - Gunnar

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Birds and the Butterflies

Edinburg Wetlands today. Saw some waterbirds.

I have never seen as many butterflies as I did today.

Here are some of them.

Be well, get a complete physical exam as soon as you are able, -Gunnar