Tuesday, March 21, 2006

COM: Blogarithmic #104

Andrea Lesch and Matthew Mueller are getting married this June! Congrats!

Patrick McGannon’s at LSU -- another old friend found via Facebook.

David and Jan Dauphin found a fantastic bird at Bentsen yesterday, a Piratic Flycatcher. They’ll be returning today to try to relocate it. Susan Sander also forwarded pictures of a cool butterfly from Kerrville’s Riverside Nature Center. The pictures were taken in October 2004 and are clearly identifiable as a Ruby-spotted Swallowtail, a Mexican species that exists in small numbers to the Rio Grande Valley, and occasionally strays north.

Every spring, there is a short period in which our endemic Edwards Plateau Redbuds bloom. In addition to just liking the color it provides against our sky (especially after a cold-front induced rainfall), it is also an impetus for me to fire up the still and film cameras. In that brief window we also get the first spring explosion of butterflies, and it’s an excellent way to find the scarce Henry's Elfin, an early season butterfly with a brief flight season here at its westernmost range edge. The peak of blooming is so brief that some years i miss filming the bugs altogether because of the weather. On March 18th, the plants finally opened enough to attract hordes of swallowtails, but there were dense clouds presaging a front and little else was present. The 19th produced our first heavy rains in about 6 months and filming was a washout. But on the 20th i was able to locate three elfins among lots of Olive Juniper Hairstreaks and Juvenal’s/Horace’s Duskywings. Lots of swallowtails were around also. Unfortunately, at midday, i had only a still camera with me, and by the time i returned with a DVcam, a stiff wind had picked up and most of the bugs had left. I’ll try again today, but the front drove temps down to 35 last night. We’ll see.

The now blossoming controversy over the Ivory-billed Woodpecker has not only created a whole new generation of skeptics, but has dragged out a whole new coterie of folks who’ve been observing the birds for years without mentioning it to the world. I guess we’re in the kooks and experts stage, with a Jerry Springer faceoff coming sometime in the summer twixt-migration doldrums. Stay tuned.

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