Saturday, March 28, 2015

Double-dotted Skipper at Sabal Palm, 3/28/15

With the long drought the RGV has experienced the past decade, a number of regularly occurring butterflies have become scarce or have disappeared altogether.  But with the winter and spring rains, I was hoping that I might be able to find one of them, the Double-dotted Skipper.  The only thing I knew about them was they came out in the spring at Sabal Palm Sanctuary in Brownsville.  When I arrived this morning I spent some time in the new gardens and was pleased to find a Walker's Metalmark.  A few have been seen recently at Resaca de la Palma State Park.  Otherwise it was just common stuff.

I made my way to the old butterfly garden and after a while found a good sized rusty brown grass skipper on the flame vine.  I immediately noticed the large white spots on the wings and had a feeling this was my bug. Soon it posed and I could see the double dots on the hind wing.

Then a second appeared and the way they acted we may have more Double-dotted Skippers in the future.

Here's the Walker's Metalmark.

Otherwise it was lots of Clouded and Fawn-spotted Skippers and Mazan's Scallopwings.  I could not find any Boisduval's Yellows.

I then ran over to Palo Alto National Battlefield to get my Definite Patch for the year.  I found a half dozen without too much trouble.  They were right in front of the building, some on the grass and others along the edge of the parking lot.  Their patterns seem highly variable much like Theona Checkerspot.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Santa Ana NWR, 3/24/15

Mike Rickard has seen some good butterflies lately at Santa Ana NWR so I ran over there a couple of days ago to check things out.  There's still lots of blooming azureun and the vervain is putting on a good show along the tour road near the cemetery.

Saw my first Two-barred Flasher for the year.

Guava Skippers put on a good show last fall at Santa Ana and they're back again this spring.

A Pipevine Swallowtail enjoying the vervain.

Thistle seems to be sprouting everywhere this spring.  I think the winter rain on ground that was barren because of the long drought provided good conditions for the seeds to sprout.  A common Mellana is nectaring on the thistle bloom.

This was my first Tamaulipan Clubtail for the year.  They will be out along the river for the next couple of months.

Hope he doesn't get eaten by this guy.

  • Pipevine Swallowtail 2
  • Giant Swallowtail 12
  • Checkered White 2
  • Southern Dogface 2
  • Lyside Sulphur 8
  • Little Yellow 2
  • Dusky-blue Groundstreak 4
  • Fatal Metalmark 1
  • Red-bordered Metalmark 1
  • Bordered Patch 4
  • Vesta Crescent 3
  • Phaon Crescent 50
  • Pearl Crescent 6
  • American Lady 6
  • Red Admiral 20
  • Mexican Bluewing 1
  • Empress Leilia 5
  • Carolina Satyr 5
  • Guava Skipper 2
  • Two-barred Flasher 1
  • Funereal Duskywing 8
  • White Checkered-Skipper 5
  • Tropical Checkered-Skipper30
  • Laviana White-Skipper 10
  • Common Sootywing 1
  • Fawn-spotted Skipper 1
  • Clouded Skipper 4
  • Fiery Skipper 10
  • Whirlabout 1
  • Southern Broken-Dash 1
  • Common Mellana 1
  • Celia's Roadside-Skipper 3
  • Eufala Skipper 8

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Yturria Brush, 3/14/15

I decided to make another run out to Yturria Brush today hoping to find an Erichson's Skipper.  Yturria Brush is a tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR and is located a couple of miles west of La Joya. The day started sunny but was cloudy by noon.  Small brown and gray skippers were the order of the day.  It took 2.5 miles of walking but eventually I did find an Erichson's White-Skipper.

The only other white-skipper for the day was this Turk's-cap White-Skipper.

Fifteen Nysa Roadside-Skippers were an all time high for me.  After all the cool wet weather, these early spring butterflies seem very boldly marked and harrier than usual to me.  I wonder if that is a function of diet or weather.

I also saw over a dozen Common Streaky-Skippers.

Texas Powdered-Skippers were equally common.

Most of the checkered-skippers were White (or Common) Checkered-Skipper.

But I did get a few Desert Checkered-Skippers.

Maybe it will warm up soon and I can photograph something besides small colorless skippers.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

National Butterfly Center, 3/12/15

After several days of cool rainy weather I ventured out to the National Butterfly Center south of Mission this afternoon.  With all the winter's rain, things are very lush and butterflies were starting to be more active. Chris Tenney found this very sharp Brown-banded Skipper, my first of the year.

I really liked this dark female Sachem.  I don't think I've ever seen one like this before.

Here's another Texas Powdered Skipper.  They seem to be everywhere this spring.

Not many Pierids today with the north wind.  My only Checkered White on the day.

My first Julia's Skipper for the year.

This Phaon Crescent lacks the black spot on the last orange spot on the front wing subterminal row of orange spots.  But it's still a Phaon. 

Since today's post has degenerated to a photo of a Phaon Crescent, it's time to stop.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Yturria Brush, 3/4/15

It's been a long cold, damp winter so I have not posted anything in a while.  Yes, there's been a few butterflies around but, not many, and nothing too interesting.  Yesterday I ran over to the Yturria Brush unit of the Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR to see some of the butterflies Mike Rickard has reported lately. Things started slowly but eventually the sun popped out and drove temps up into the 80s.  Butterlies out there tend to have more of a "western" flavor than in other parts of the RGV.  I saw several Common Streaky-Skippers.

One of my main targets was Nysa Roadside-Skipper.  None of them would pose with closed wings but you can see the checkered fringe on the fore wings.

Small and dark was the order of the day.  This winter form Sickle-winged Skipper is pretty sharp.

Texas Powdered-Skipper is pretty much guaranteed at Yturria Brush and Santa Ana NWR.

Another specialty at Yturria Brush is the Desert Checkered-Skipper.

My first Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak of the year did not give me much of a photo opp.  This was my only shot.

Mike had also reported a teneral baskettail dragonfly out there which he suspected was a Dot-winged Baskettail but identification from his photos was inconclusive.  Baskettails are a difficult bunch to ID. Fortunately one "hung up" right in front of me and proved to be a Dot-winged Baskettail, a first record for the Rio Grande Valley.  Thanks Mike!

Today it's about fifty degrees colder than yesterday so I'm glad I took advantage of yesterday's warm weather.

Giant Swallowtail 1
Southern Dogface 6
Large Orange Sulphur 1
Lyside Sulphur 20
Little Yellow 1
Sleepy Orange 2
Dainty Sulphur 10
Gray Hairstreak 1
Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak 1
Reakirt's Blue 3
American Snout 1
Vesta Crescent 30
Red Admiral 3
Texas Powdered-Skipper 5
Sickle-winged Skipper 1
Funereal Duskywing 2
White Checkered-Skipper 3
Desert Checkered-Skipper 2
Laviana White-Skipper 5
Common Streaky-Skipper 4
Common Sootywing 5
Fiery Skipper 1
Nysa Roadside-Skipper 4
Eufala Skipper 5