Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mixing Natural History and Human History for a Day

I was home for just a day and a half from Peru when I was pleased to have a visit from my old friends Thom and Kipp from Corvallis.

Thom was once a more avid birder, and Kipp never one. But they both like the outdoors and I knew some places and birds that would make for a nice day’s outing. We first went to Florida Canyon where there are lots of common birds as well as a chance to see some very localized rarities. We did glimpse one of the Black-capped Gnatcatchers that live here, but we had fabulous views of this Painted Redstart. Kipp was a birder for a moment.

We hiked up the canyon, but the abundant summer rains had created a dense thicket that made it tough to see the trail in places.

There were flowers and bugs all over the place. I smelled this Thurber’s Desertpeony, Acourtia thurberi, a very fancy composite from several yards away. The smell continues on the dry plant well into the winter months.

Birds were actually not so active, but my friends were happy to look at any colorful little creature. This tiny butterfly is an Elada Checkerspot.

An unusually shaped but common butterfly is this American Snout.

I showed them that even tiny little flies that one would normally ignore have field marks, much like birds. And with a digital camera you can get large enough images to actually see those field marks. This little bee fly (family Bombyliidae) turns out to be Exoprosopa dorcadion. It doesn’t appear that anyone has undertaken the task to coin English names for bee flies yet.

There were abundant grasshoppers wherever we went. This one was striking when it flew – appropriately named Red-winged Grasshopper (Arphia pseudonietana); the wings suddenly flash scarlet when it flies.

This one is called the Yellow-bellied Boopie, Boopedon flaviventris, and is not a great flier at all.

Afraid that this might be natural history overload for Kipp, I suggested Tumacacori National Historic Park, where I had also taken my non-birding friends from Germany last year. Oh, but while there is some interesting history to learn here…

…even inside the chapel it doesn’t stop. This Say's Phoebe was probably breeding in the nooks in the eroded adobe.

And the regional specialty Rufous-winged Sparrow was easy to see inside the compound.

Western Pygmy-Blues flitted along the trails among many other larger butterflies, and we saw a few more birds, such as Verdin. This beautiful Montezuma Grasshopper, Syrbula montezuma, was on the walkway.

No comments:

Post a Comment