Saturday, December 2, 2017

Tiger Mimic-Queen at Quinta Mazatlan, 12/2/17

I got up early this morning and decided I would go to Sabal Palm Sanctuary in Brownsville to see if I could get lucky and find a Zone-tailed Hawk which I have not seen yet in Cameron County.  I failed on my quest but found a Tropical Parula and was getting ready to make another loop when I got the call that a Green-breasted Mango had been seen at Quinta Mazatlan in McAllen.  Well, it's been years since I had seen one of those so I made the hour long drive over to Quinta Mazatlan only to find I was about a half hour late.  Other birders were showing up and some decided to wait for it to appear in the tree where it had been seen while others wandered about the park looking for the rare hummingbird.

One of those wandering about was Justin LeClair who thought he had glimpsed the hummer.  While he was searching he found what at the time appeared to be an Isabella Heliconian.  When I heard about it, I ran over as I have not seen one in a few years.  The butterfly was perched low in the shade on a Turk's-cap and when I put my camera on it the first thing I saw was the bright yellow antennae.  I told him and his buddy Tony that I didn't think this was an Isabella but that it might be the much more rare Tiger Mimic-Queen.  I had seen one a few years ago and remembered the bright yellow antennae.  We checked online with our phones and sure enough I was right.  We got the word out and luckily it stayed put and gave the birders and arriving butterfliers a really nice lifer.  There are only a handful of records north of Mexico for this spectacular relative of the Monarch.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Progreso Lakes yard and a Green-backed Ruby-eye, 11/28/17

This morning Linda Cooper brought some butterfly friends over to the house to check out the butterflies in our yard.  The South Texas Satyrs were lifers for some of them.

As was the Orange-barred Sulphur.

I had found this Red-crescent Scrub Hairstreak yesterday for yard butterfly #100.  We saw two today.

After they left (and found Blue-eyed Sailor over at Estero!) I found this Hackberry Emperor on our fruit peel pile for yard butterfly # 101.  There are plenty of hackberries around so maybe we'll see more of them.

I was going back into the house after putting out some bait when I spotted a funny colored pinkish-orange thing on our Betony.  I didn't even check it out.  I just ran straight into the house for my camera cuz the only thing that comes in that color is Curve-winged Metalmark.  Yard butterfly #102.  And it was a nice fat female and there's plenty of the host plant, Caesalpinia, in the neighbor's yard so you do the math.

Well, Linda had told me she was going to help some people look for the Green-backed Ruby-eye that has been seen the past couple of evenings on the Retama Village wall north of Bentsen State park.  So I raced over with hopes of getting some shots of it in the setting sun light.  But it didn't pop out till after sun set and I forgot to bump up my ISO so this is what I wound up with.

But I was still happy to see this rare tropical grass skipper, my 210th species for the Valley.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Common Banner at National Butterfly Center, 11/17/17

With a warn windy day forecast ahead of an approaching cold front, I thought today could best be spent looking for butterflies at the National Butterfly Center.  My target for the day was the Common Banner that had been seen recently.  It took a few hours but it finally showed up.

It also took a while to get this Red Rim.

Here's the list.

Giant Swallowtail 1
  • Giant White 1
  • Southern Dogface 8
  • Cloudless Sulphur 2
  • Large Orange Sulphur 10
  • Lyside Sulphur 5
  • Little Yellow 5
  • Sleepy Orange 1
  • Dainty Sulphur 1
  • Marius Hairstreak 1
  • Gray Hairstreak 6
  • Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak 4
  • Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak 1
  • Dusky-blue Groundstreak 1
  • Clytie Ministreak 1
  • Western Pygmy-Blue 1
  • Cassius Blue 8
  • Ceraunus Blue 25
  • Fatal Metalmark 1
  • American Snout 15
  • Gulf Fritillary 5
  • Zebra Heliconian 5
  • Mexican Fritillary 5
  • Bordered Patch 4
  • Crimson Patch 2
  • Elada Crescent 1
  • Texan Crescent 1
  • Phaon Crescent 40
  • Question Mark 2
  • Painted Lady 3
  • Common Buckeye 4
  • Tropical Buckeye 1
  • White Peacock 20
  • Mexican Bluewing 5
  • Common Mestra 3
  • Red Rim 1
  • Tropical Leafwing 6
  • Tawny Emperor 100
  • Empress Leilia 6
  • Carolina Satyr 3
  • Queen 250
  • Soldier 10
  • Brown Longtail 10
  • Glazed Pellicia 2
  • White-patched Skipper 2
  • White Checkered-Skipper 15
  • Tropical Checkered-Skipper10
  • Laviana White-Skipper 6
  • Fawn-spotted Skipper 10
  • Clouded Skipper 50
  • Double-dotted Skipper 1
  • Fiery Skipper 25
  • Whirlabout 25
  • Southern Broken-Dash 6
  • Sachem 3
  • Common Mellana 30
  • Eufala Skipper 5
  • Ocola Skipper 1

Progreso Lakes yard, 11/21/17

I finally got around to some long neglected weeding in the yard today.  When I finished I thought I would check out the butterflies.  Well I kept seeing stuff and more stuff.  By the time I was finished I had seen fifty species for the day, a new one day high for our yard.  Best was this Mexican Yellow.

I saw a nice male Orange-barred Sulphur but all I could photograph was this beat up female.

Statira Sulphurs are no longer a surprise in our yard this year.

And the same can be said for Giant Whites.

My photos never do justice to Red-bordered Pixies.

Here's his cousin, the Red-bordered Metalmark.

50 species will be tough to beat unless I add some more plants.

  • Giant Swallowtail 1
  • Giant White 1
  • Cloudless Sulphur 12
  • Orange-barred Sulphur 3
  • Large Orange Sulphur 6
  • Statira Sulphur 1
  • Mexican Yellow 1
  • Little Yellow 4
  • Sleepy Orange 1
  • Dainty Sulphur 1
  • Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak 3
  • Dusky-blue Groundstreak 3
  • Cassius Blue 4
  • Ceraunus Blue 2
  • Fatal Metalmark 1
  • Red-bordered Metalmark 1
  • Red-bordered Pixie 2
  • American Snout 4
  • Gulf Fritillary 2
  • Bordered Patch 1
  • Texan Crescent 1
  • Vesta Crescent 12
  • Phaon Crescent 6
  • Pearl Crescent 4
  • Red Admiral 1
  • White Peacock 40
  • Common Mestra 2
  • Tawny Emperor 2
  • Carolina Satyr 6
  • Monarch 1
  • Queen 25
  • Soldier 3
  • Guava Skipper 1
  • White-striped Longtail 1
  • Brown Longtail 6
  • Sickle-winged Skipper 10
  • White Checkered-Skipper 15
  • Tropical Checkered-Skipper 8
  • Laviana White-Skipper 8
  • Julia's Skipper 3
  • Fawn-spotted Skipper 10
  • Clouded Skipper 30
  • Southern Skipperling 2
  • Fiery Skipper 2
  • Whirlabout 3
  • Southern Broken-Dash 2
  • Sachem 1
  • Common Mellana 1
  • Eufala Skipper 4
  • Ocola Skipper 1

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!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Progreso Lakes, 10/19/17

Wow!  What a great day in our yard at Progreso Lakes.  I had to stay home for the plumber and started casually looking around the yard.  First good butterfly was a female Statira Sulphur.  I later found a male.

After dealing with the plumber, I went back outside and quickly found this ratty Mexican Yellow, yard butterfly #91.  I was expecting to get one sometime during the winter.  Now I wonder if I'll see a bunch of them.

Things slowed down a while and I was about to quit when this Dorantes Longtail popped in.

I had earlier gotten White-striped Longtail.

And as usual there were plenty of Brown Longtails.

This nice Double-dotted Skipper was an afternoon surprise.  I usually get them early in the day.

I made one more round of our one acre yard, checking the purple Duranta.  It's had few floweres lately.  I notice a boldly marked female White Checkered-Skipper and thought that it looked a bit like an Erichson's White-Skipper.  But it wasn't.  I was going to quit for the day and thought I should check the garden one last time.  And guess what I found.  Of all things, it was an Erichson's White-Skipper.  I could not believe it.  I thought it was a possibility for our yard but might take years to get one.  #92!

And for good measure I saw another little grass skipper that turned out to be Olive-Clouded Skipper.

Finished the day with another new high, 47 species.

  • Pipevine Swallowtail 2
  • Giant Swallowtail 1
  • Cloudless Sulphur 10
  • Large Orange Sulphur 3
  • Statira Sulphur 2
  • Lyside Sulphur 2
  • Mexican Yellow 1
  • Tailed Orange 1
  • Little Yellow 6
  • Mimosa Yellow 3
  • Gray Hairstreak 1
  • Rounded Metalmark 2
  • Red-bordered Metalmark 1
  • American Snout 1
  • Gulf Fritillary 1
  • Bordered Patch 3
  • Phaon Crescent 8
  • Pearl Crescent 2
  • Painted Lady 3
  • White Peacock 10
  • Carolina Satyr 1
  • Monarch 2
  • Queen 30
  • Soldier 3
  • White-striped Longtail 1
  • Dorantes Longtail 1
  • Brown Longtail 8
  • Mimosa Skipper 1
  • Sickle-winged Skipper 3
  • Mournful Duskywing 2
  • Funereal Duskywing 1
  • White Checkered-Skipper 8
  • Tropical Checkered-Skipper 5
  • Erichson's White-Skipper 1
  • Laviana White-Skipper 6
  • Turk's-cap White-Skipper 1
  • Julia's Skipper 2
  • Clouded Skipper 10
  • Double-dotted Skipper 1
  • Southern Skipperling 3
  • Fiery Skipper 10
  • Whirlabout 3
  • Southern Broken-Dash 2
  • Sachem 2
  • Common Mellana 1
  • Eufala Skipper 3
  • Olive-clouded Skipper 1

National Butterfly Center, 10/17/17

I've been busy and have not got around to posting about the fun day I had at the National Butterfly Center with the Yukichs from Canada, Mike Rickard, John Rosford, Ken Wilson and Dave Hanson.  My goal was to see the Mercurial Skipper that had been present the two days before.  But alas, it was not meant to be and Mercurial Skipper continues as my nemesis butterfly (along with Emerald Aguna).  But we had a great day, finding some pretty good butterflies for each other.  Best
was my second ever Hermit Skipper.

Ken Wilson found this worn Gold-spotted Aguna.  It just barely had enough filed marks to be identifiable.

This Evan's Skipper wasn't much better.

And this Zilpa Longtail generated some debate.

I should write some more but I'm worn out.  Our list for the day held 65 species of which I saw all but four I think.

  • Pipevine Swallowtail 2
  • Giant Swallowtail 1
  • Florida White 2
  • Giant White 1
  • Southern Dogface 4
  • Yellow Angled-Sulphur 1
  • Cloudless Sulphur 2
  • Large Orange Sulphur 8
  • Lyside Sulphur 20
  • Tailed Orange 4
  • Little Yellow 5
  • Sleepy Orange 3
  • Dainty Sulphur 1
  • Marius Hairstreak 1
  • Gray Hairstreak 12
  • Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak 4
  • Ceraunus Blue 10
  • Red-bordered Metalmark 1
  • American Snout 25
  • Gulf Fritillary 15
  • Julia Heliconian 2
  • Zebra Heliconian 1
  • Variegated Fritillary 1
  • Mexican Fritillary 3
  • Bordered Patch 4
  • Phaon Crescent 10
  • Question Mark 1
  • Painted Lady 6
  • Common Buckeye 5
  • White Peacock 2
  • Mexican Bluewing 4
  • Common Mestra 1
  • Ruddy Daggerwing 2
  • Tropical Leafwing 1
  • Tawny Emperor 30
  • Carolina Satyr 2
  • Monarch 6
  • Queen 300
  • Soldier 10
  • Zilpa Longtail 1
  • Gold-spotted Aguna 1
  • Long-tailed Skipper 1
  • Dorantes Longtail 1
  • Brown Longtail 10
  • Sickle-winged Skipper 1
  • Hermit Skipper 1
  • Brown-banded Skipper 2
  • White-patched Skipper 2
  • Mournful Duskywing 1
  • Funereal Duskywing 1
  • White Checkered-Skipper 15
  • Tropical Checkered-Skipper 5
  • Laviana White-Skipper 20
  • Fawn-spotted Skipper 5
  • Clouded Skipper 30
  • Southern Skipperling 5
  • Fiery Skipper 80
  • Whirlabout 15
  • Southern Broken-Dash 15
  • Sachem 40
  • Common Mellana 10
  • Celia's Roadside-Skipper 3
  • Eufala Skipper 10
  • Purple-washed Skipper 2
  • Evans' Skipper 1