Thursday, March 16, 2017

National Butterfly Center, 3/16/17

I spent the morning birding in our yard at Progreso Lakes but wasn't seeing too much so I decided to take advantage of the wind and sunshine and run over to the National Butterfly Center.  I got over there a little after noon and it was really slow.  But I kept looking, hoping the wind might blow in something different, and was rewarded in the Conservatory with this Statira Sulphur.  A few are seen each year but not by me so I was happy to get one after not seeing one since 2013.

Nearby was this Double-dotted Skipper.

And a Long-tailed Skipper.

And this worn Clytie Ministreak.

Just outside, feeding on the Turnera, was this Mexican Fritillary caterpillar.

A little later I made a run through the "gulley" hoping to find the Gilbert's Flasher which had been seen several times over the past couple of weeks.  Behind the bird feeding station a large skipper landed next to me and perched under a leaf.  It wasn't the Gilbert's Flasher but instead was a very worn Gold-spotted Aguna.  Not what I was hoping for but I'll take it. 

This tailless White-striped Longtail is trying to pass itself off as a Gold-spotted Aguna.  It had me going for a minute but it's got too many spots..

It's a good spring for Cyna Blues.

A ratty Banded Peacock.

Quite a few of the tropical metalmarks, like this Red-bordered Pixie, prefer to hide under a leaf.

Another Double-dotted Skipper has more than it's fair share of dots.  I wish it was something rare but I think not.

This Tropical Leafwing, ovipositing on a Cortez Croton, was my only one for the day.

While I was birding in our yard in Progreso Lakes this morning, I saw several Orange-barred Sulphurs.  I see them almost daily but it's tough getting one to sit for a portrait.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Variegated Skipper at Estero, 3/1/17

Yesterday Michael Delasantro found a Variegated Skipper at Estero Llano Grande State Park.  I've seen this beautiful skipper in Panama but I've missed the few that we've had in the Rio Grande Valley so I really wanted to find this butterfly.  I arrived at Estero at 10 AM and ran into Rick and May Snider at their bait log. The Variegated Skipper had not been seen yesterday after the initial sighting and Rick was happy to accompany me to the rear of the Tropical Zone where it had been found.

We looked around for over an hour and saw some pretty good stuff but no Variegated Skipper.  It was getting cloudy and the butterflies were getting scarce when a Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet called.  Well we wandered off in search of that and then we wandered over to the hummingbird feeder were Rick had seen four species of hummers earlier in the morning.  And near there he wanted to check out a patch of azureum and he commented about how it was nice that Ruben had mowed around the patch to make it more accessible.  And then what should magically appear before our eyes?  None other than the Variegated Skipper.  After getting home I checked on Google Earth and found it was 257 yards from the azureum bush where it was originally found.    Amazing!

Well it flew while we were trying to get the word out on our phones.  In the process of searching we came across this female Chestnut Crescent.  No one gets excited anymore this spring when they come across one of these rare butterflies.  They are all over the place.

Nearby May pointed out a Band-celled Sister.

Earlier in the morning Rick and I saw this Brown-banded Skipper in the rear of the Tropical Zone.

Celia's Roadside-Skippers are common in the shady Tropical Zone.

Near Rick and May's bair log we had a pair of copulating Southern Broken-Dashes.  The golden females give me problems.  They can look a lot like a Common Mellana.

Red-bordered Metalmarks must be on of the easiest butterflies to photograph and they move in slow motion while meticulously searching for every little bit of nectar on a flower.

This Western Pygmy-Blue out in the parking lot was about the largest I've ever seen.

Somedays it takes skill and some days you just get lucky.  We were sure lucky today.