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October Yard Birds-Dragoons Foothills

Yard List = 144 species Scaled Quail, Turkey Vulture, Northern Harrier, Cooper's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, White-winged Dove, Mourning Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Western Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, Common Poorwill, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Anna's Hummingbird, Rufous/Allen's Hummingbird, Gila Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Gray Flycatcher, Say's Phoebe, Western Kingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, Common Raven, Barn Swallow, Rock Wren, Bewick's Wren, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Northern Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, MacGillivray's Warbler, Green-tailed Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Canyon Towhee, Botteri's Sparrow, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Brewer's Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Pyrrhuloxia, Blue Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Scott's Oriole, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, House Sparrow.

October Butterflies–Dragoon Mts

Pipevine Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail, Checkered White, Southern Dogface, Cloudless Sulphur, Tailed Orange, Sleepy Orange, Dainty Sulphur, Marine BluleWestern Pygmy-Blue, Reakirt's Blue, Palmer's Metalmark, American Snout, Monarch, Queen, Variegated Fritillary, Bordered Patch, Common Buckeye, Painted Lady, White Checkered-Skipper, Orange Skipperling, Arizona Giant-Skipper

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The White Mountains (part 2)

(click on a photo to enlarge)

After walking the Butler Nature Trail, we drove over to the Greer Peaks Resort where there is a small bridge that crosses over the west fork of the Little Colorado River (more like a creek). It was at this small bridge that we hoped to see an American Dipper. We could find no dipper as we watched from the bridge but I did notice there were lots of Mourning Cloaks and Satyr Commas flying around and landing in a nearby willow. Mourning Cloaks uses willow as a host plant, Satyr Commas use  nettles which I did not observe in the area. The commas, however, were having a fine time on that willow!

Satyr Comma (Polygonia satyrus)
Satyr Comma (Polygonia satyrus)

I wandered off to where I saw a white butterfly and found a Margined White (lifer!) somewhat frayed but still recognizable. As I struggled to get a photo, Doug began anxiously calling me to return to the bridge. He’d found the dipper! Unfortunately by the time I got there, it had flown round a bend.

Margined White (Pieris marginalis)
Margined White (Pieris marginalis)

As we walked slowly along the river, patience payed off when the dipper suddenly reappeared and  landed on a rock and let us watch it for about 5  minutes. The lighting was not the best but I was able to get a few decent photos. Our attention was drawn to the dipper’s eye as it blinked and showed us the third eyelid, the “nictitating membrane” which functions like a windshield wiper when the bird is under water. Unlike most shorebirds that feed without putting their whole head underwater, the American Dipper specializes in diving in fast-flowing, often frigid water for underwater insects. It even has a special flap that can cover its nostrils when underwater.

American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus)
American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus)

American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus)

American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus)
American Dipper revealing its third eyelid

Satisfied with our good luck on finding the dipper, we decided we’d like to spend more time walking along this beautiful river so we drove to the end of the road where we found a nice trail.

West Fork, Little Colorado River
West Fork, Little Colorado River

The wildflowers here attracted many butterfly species, one of them new to me — a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell. What a contrast between the drab underwing view and the stunning top view.

Milbert's Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis milberti)
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis milberti)

Mylitta Crescent (Phyciodes mylitta)
Mylitta Crescent (Phyciodes mylitta)

Weidemeyer's Admiral (Limenitis weidmeyerii)
Weidemeyer’s Admiral (Limenitis weidmeyerii)

Russet Skipperling (Piruna pyrus)
Russet Skipperling (Piruna pyrus)

Painted Crescent (Phyciodes picta)
Painted Crescent (Phyciodes picta)

Tawny-edged Skipper (Polites themistocles)
Tawny-edged Skipper (Polites themistocles)

On our way home from this short three day adventure, we decided to take the Green’s Peak Road (117) about 15 miles west of Springerville. Despite few nectar sources and increasing wind we found some interesting butterflies in the grasslands, such as Northern Cloudywing, Melissa Blue and Pahaska Skipper.

Pahaska Skipper (Hesperia pahaska)
Pahaska Skipper (Hesperia pahaska)

As we ascended into the pines, new species appeared.

Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia)
Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia)

Draco Skipper (Polites draco)
Draco Skipper (Polites draco) lifer!

It’s always nice to end a day with a “lifer!”

Published by Arlene Ripley on July 6th, 2013 Tagged Arizona, Birds, Butterflies, Nature, Wanderings | Comments Off on The White Mountains (part 2)

The White Mountains (Part 1)

(click on a photo to enlarge)

Too many months have passed by without a single blog entry and finding it impossible to “catch up,” I’m just going to write about a recent trip to the White Mountains in search of both birds and butterflies.

Day 1 — Getting There

We had not really planned this trip more than a day or so in advance, so rather than spend time packing up the RV, we just set out in the car for Apache County located in east-central Arizona bordering with New Mexico. It was not a difficult decision to leave temps in the high 90s for the pleasant 70s and lush mountain scenery.

On the way, we passed by the humongous eye-sore of the Morenci open-pit copper mine.

Morenci Open-pit Copper Mine
Morenci Open-Pit Copper Mine

On a positive note, this is an area where Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep can usually be seen just from along the roadsides. We saw both ewes and lambs going and coming on this trip.

Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep
Ewe and Lamb

Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep, ewe
Ewe

   Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep, lamb
Lamb

On a previous drive past this area, we were pleased to find a ram by the side of the road, unfortunately in an undesirable setting in front of a cyclone fence!

Rocky Mt. Bighorn Ram

Our destination on Day 1 was the small hamlet of Greer, about 17 miles southeast of Springerville. It was here we hoped to see both American Three-toed Woodpecker and American Dipper, new birds for our state list.

Day 2 — In and Around Greer

We got a bright and early start the next morning and headed straight for the Butler Nature Trail just minutes from our lodging. We’d been on this trail last fall, on a cold, rainy day and didn’t see our target bird — the American Three-toed Woodpecker so we hoped our luck would change on this trip. It wasn’t long before we spotted a female who posed for just enough time to confirm the ID and then flew off into the woods. Success but no photos. We hung around the trail for another hour or two enjoying watching the nesting Red-naped Sapsuckers and Violet-green Swallows both occupying holes in the same aspen tree. A Western Wood-Pewee sat on a nest far out on a limb of a pine as Pygmy Nuthatches fed their noisy fledglings.

Western Wood-Pewee on Nest
Western Wood-Pewee on Nest

As the morning warmed, the butterflies came out. Western Tiger Swallowtails joined Atlantis Fritillaries in the meadows and my first Arizona Boisduval’s Blue.

Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus)
Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus)

Atlantis Fritillary (Speyeria atlantis)
Atlantis Fritillary (Speyeria atlantis)

Atlantis Fritillary (Speyeria atlantis)
Atlantis Fritillary (Speyeria atlantis)

Boisduval's Blue (Plebejus icarioides)
Boisduval’s Blue (Plebejus icarioides)

(to be continued)

 

Published by Arlene Ripley on June 26th, 2013 Tagged Arizona, Birds, Butterflies, Nature, Wanderings | 1 Comment »
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