Monday, October 30, 2006

ENV: Big Springs Survey, 29 October 2006

Well the unexpected happened -- no one showed up for the survey except me. I had several RSVPs to let me know some folks wouldn't be coming, but somehow i didn't expect no one. So, i have to say i missed having all the extra eyes yesterday.

Butterflies were everywhere, and i know i missed a lot of things, for not being able to keep up with all the stuff. Since i was alone, and with my new camera, i focused mostly on trying to get film of the cool stuff we'd found before. Nevertheless i had some good things.

Besides just the big numbers of Leps, the best single was probably a Mexican Yellow -- not new for the survey, but still a good bug in these parts if you ask me. I also filmed two crescent/checkerspot types that i haven't worked yet, but i think they're both going to be new for the survey once i pin them down.

A Hutton's Vireo i filmed was new, but these days i think it's hardly unexpected. Otherwise, birds were fairly light for the day, although i did have some migrants and winterers around, including Curve-billed Thrasher, Gray Catbird and Golden-crowned Kinglet.

I wanted to film the salamanders but they were a no show. The pools have filled with leaves and i suspect there was plenty of food there for them to forage unexposed, and as fragile as the spot is i didn't want to mess it up.

I found a Jade-striped Sylph fairly early, a nice male, that would hang in the vegetation until seconds before i got the camera and tripod set up (thing about this new camera i'm learning fast, is that it's huge and heavy and so is the tripod and just getting into position for a quick shot of anything is not easy). then the thing would fly a few feet and hang up again and i'd just about get set, etc. i chased it for 20 minutes before it got up a slope where it was hopeless. this was at the main spring.

Later in the afternoon, as i was plodding back down to the last crossing, i noticed that there were quite a few odes over the little ponded stream above the rock bridge over the springs. since odes had been light for the day i stopped the jeep and glassed what was there and immediately located an Autumn Meadowhawk perched. so i pulled over to get some film, and just about had the tripod set, and was picking up the camera to put on the tripod, when an in copula pair of Jade-stripes zipped in about three feet from my nose and sat on a nettle leaf. as smoothly as i could i turned on the camera and got some footage of the pair (conscious that this seemed late for these guys i wanted some documentation -- turns out it's not late). when i made a move to get the camera on the tripod though they split and i lost them. so i guess i have some shaky footage anyway. i am going to try to post captures from that film here when i get the chance.

The best bug of the day was what seemed to be a very nice male Cobra Clubtail. but it flew too before i could get the camera set. this would have been a new county record. but it would also be a VERY late record by some time, and so i've had a lot of second thoughts about it without coming up with a reasonable alternative. i'm hoping someone can steer me a better direction on this one.

TX: Real Co., Big Spring Ranch for Children, 29 October 2006, 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. CST, 64-75dF, clear, occasionally breezy to gusty, tg

 = filmed
* = new to survey

5 Common Pondsnail sp., Physa sp. 

+ European Honeybee, Apis mellifera

3 Day-flying Underwing Moth, Catocala sp. 

8 Pipevine Swallowtail 
2 Black Swallowtail
45 Dainty Sulphur 
1 Lyside Sulphur
1 Mexican Yellow
90 Sleepy Orange 
4 Orange Sulphur 
10 Large Orange Sulphur 
12 Cloudless Sulphur 
34 Southern Dogface 
4 Gray Hairstreak 
9 Painted Lady 
1 American Lady 
3 Vesta (Graphic) Crescent 
2 Phaon Crescent
2 [two as yet unidentified crescent/checkerspot sp.  *]
30 Variegated Fritillary 
24 Gulf Fritillary 
30 Common Mestra 
5 Arizona Sister 
1165 American (Southwestern Snout) 
1 Monarch
2 Queen
3 Checkered-Skipper sp. 
2 Mournful/Funereal Duskywing 

1 Great Spreadwing
15 Desert Firetail 
2 Double-striped Bluet
40 Familiar Bluet
9 Aztec Dancer 
3 Blue-ringed Dancer 
4 Common Green Darner
1 Gomphid sp.
[1 ?cf. Cobra Clubtail (very late/[NCR]) *]
3 Jade-striped Sylph (pair in copula) 
4 Pale-faced Clubskimmer
3 Autumn Meadowhawk *
1 Setwing sp.
1 Checkered Setwing
2 Flame Skimmer

100 Tiger Beetle sp., Cicindela sp.

2 Water Boatman, Corixidae

+ Water Strider, Veliidae

+ Common Mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis affinis
+ Pugnose Minnow, Opsopoeodus emiliae
+ Blacktail Shiner, Notropis venustus

3 Blanchard’s Cricket Frog (+24 tadpoles), Acris crepitans blanchardi
1 Rio Grande Leopard Frog, Rana berlandieri

1 Diamond-backed Water Snake, Nerodea rhombifera rhombifera *

26 Black Vulture
2 Great Blue Heron
1 American Kestrel
4 Spotted Sandpiper
1 Ringed Kingfisher
1 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
1 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
2 Black Phoebe
6 Eastern Phoebe
2 Western Scrub-Jay 
2 Common Raven 
1 Hutton’s Vireo *
1 Curve-billed Thrasher *
1 Gray Catbird *
1 Winter Wren *
2 Canyon Wren
3 Carolina Wren
5 Carolina Chickadee
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
3 Golden-crowned Kinglet *
2 Orange-crowned Warbler *
3 Spotted Towhee *
3 American Goldfinch *
1 Lesser Goldfinch

2 Fox Squirrel
4 White-tailed Deer

Orange Shelf Fungus on Pecan

Mountain Mahogany 
Thoroughwort, Eupatorium havanense
Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis
Purple Spires Sage 
Copper Canyon Daisy 
Chinkapin Oak 
Claret Cup Cactus, Echinocereus triglochidiatus
Four O’Clock, Mirabilis linearis
Special I 


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