Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Texas Butterfly Festival. 11/5-7/17

The past few days I have been leading field trips for the 2017 Texas Butterfly Festival at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas.  I don't know the cause, but as far as rare butterflies are concerned, this has been the best of the past five festivals in which I have participated.  Things started on Saturday afternoon when guides and participants started findings some pretty rare butterflies.  Best was the fourth US record of Shadowed Hairstreak found at Retama Village just north of Bentsen State Park.  This was followed by about another ten or more of the same species found along the Retama Village wall.

In the process of searching along the wall, Robin Zurovec found this cool Telea Hairstreak.

And we all saw plenty of gray-eyed Marius Hairstreaks.

Sunday morning I took a small group out to Cameron County to check some hot spots.  Resaca de la Palma turned up the usual specialties like Blue Metalmark, Boisduval's Yellow and Band-celled Sister.

Then it was on to the the infamous Smiley Face where Xami Hairstreaks flew from under out feet as we walked the track north.  We saw at least a dozen.

We also got the aptly named Obscure Skipper.

I could not get the group to go down to the end of the track whee I had found Saltbush Sootywings a couple of days earlier.

And finally some digging through the tall grass along the highway turned up a Pale-rayed Skipper.

The next day I led the trip to Weslaco where out Progreso Lakes yard thrilled the group with Red-bordered Pixie and Guava Skipper.  Frontera Audubon Thicket and Estero Llano Grande State Park had butterflies but nothing outstanding.  Meanwhile good stuff like Smudged Hairstreak and Mercurial Skipper were being seen by other groups.  

I had no trip scheduled for Tuesday, so I just hung around our yard while others led Festival trips.  I was getting ready to take a nap when I got a text from Linda Cooper that Martin Reid had just found an Orange Banner at the National Butterfly Center, a fourth US record.  So I raced over and no one had seen it since.  But I got a rare Pale-spotted Leafwing to show a bit of the upper wing so that made the trip worthwhile.

And then there this really sharp Guatemalan Cracker.

And of course everyone enjoyed the Malachites.

And just as I was leaving the NBC, people looking along the "wall" had found a Four-spotted Sailor.

Well this old birder had had enough of butterflies for a while and just rested today to get ready for the Rio Grande Birding Festival  Meanwhile back at the NBC, a Common Banner was found and thrilled the hardcore butterfliers that remained.  What a productive butterfly festival!