Thursday, December 24, 2015

Finding My Joy

Ever since I got hired at Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center as a program assistant, my days have been filled with joy. I never know what new wonder will greet me as I go about my duties in one of the most beautiful places in McAllen, Texas.
Just to be able to walk around the alluring house and grounds would be gratifying in itself, but I also get to be surrounded by the birds and nature that I so love.

Walkway to house.

Quinta Mazatlan built in the 1930's

I get greeted by the Plain Chachalacas as I'm putting out the bird seed and the suet and oranges for the day.

A Great Kiskadee waits impatiently for me to finish.

I travel through the park and as I get to the second feeding station I see our resident Javelina watching me.

I then see this Eastern Cottontail enjoying a breakfast of Night Blooming Cereus

On another day, John, our staff naturalist, introduces me to a new bug,

It's a Flag-footed bug. This beautiful insect has what looks like flags at the end of it's feet, which it uses to create a diversion when confronted by a predator. It is only fund here in the US in Southern Texas.

Each day is a learning experience as I'm surrounded by people willing to tell me about the plants, bugs, and other natural wonders of Quinta Mazatlan and the unique Rio Grande Valley.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dragon Colors

Fly, Dragonfly!

Water nymph, you have
climbed from the shallows to don
your dragon-colors.
Perched on a reed stem
all night, shedding your skin, you dry
your wings in moonlight.
Night melts into day.
Swift birds wait to snap you up.
Fly, dragonfly! Fly!

All photos by Kathy Detweiler

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Things Other Than Butterflies

During the butterfly festival there were a lot of other things to be seen other than the butterflies.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

20th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival Field Trip Day 3

On our third day Mike Rickard and Ginny Musgrave led our next trip to Palo Alto, Resaca de la Palma and Camp Lula Sams.

I fell in love with the beautiful Guava Skipper.  Just look at those colors!

Gorgeous caterpillar


After we left Resaca de la Palma, we went to Camp Lulu Sams.  Camp Lula Sams was built by the Earl C Sams Foundation and gifted to the Girl Scouts of South Texas in 1953.  Mike was sure we would see a Pale-rayed Skipper or a Strophius Hairstreak and we were fortunate enough to see both.

If you ever have an opportunity to attend the Texas Butterfly festival I highly recommend it.  I learned so much in those three days, and had such an enjoyable time.

Friday, November 13, 2015

20th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival Field Trip Day 2

Our trip leaders for Day 2 were Linda and Buck Cooper.  Linda and Buck Cooper are Florida natives, but every year for six weeks they are Texans and proud of it.  They are great teachers, spending time not only identifying the butterfly but explaining the field marks to look for and the behavior of the butterfly.

Our first stop was Roma Bluffs, which is part of the World Birding Center. We saw a very nice Zebra Heliconian there.

A lovely Rounded Metalmark

Then we drove up to Falcon State Park to their butterfly gardens.

My first Coyote Cloudywing.

I also saw my first American lady.

We were all fascinated with the moth caterpillar.

Another great day, with great butterflies.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

20th Annual Texas Butterfly Festival Field Trip Day 1

I was fortunate enough this year to be one of the drivers for the National Butterfly Festival, which meant I got to go on the field trips, and see, learn and photograph the butterflies that were seen.

We had trip leaders which were some of the most knowledgeable butterfly people around.
People come from all over the U,S and other countries for the festival for a chance to see a Rio Grande specialty butterfly. The Rio Grande Valley is home to roughly three hundred species of butterflies,

Our first day we went to Cielo Escondido (Hidden Heaven), a private home that has wonderful native plants that attracts some of the butterfly species we were searching for.  Our trip leaders were Mike Rickard, Ginny Musgrave & John Yochum.  Mr. Rickard is a local butterfly expert who has been "butterflying" in the LRGV for decades and has contributed several discoveries to the natural histories of various LRGV butterflies.   Mr Yochum is a Park Naturalist at Estero Llano Grande State Park, and is knowledgeable about all the local plants and wildlife, which was good for me because I kept getting distracted by the spiders we saw and kept asking him what they were. Thank goodness he is a patient man!

The property was very beautiful and we saw many, many species. One of my favorites was the Blue Metal Marks.

Some butterfly enthusiasts.

Of course while you are out you will see more than just butterflies, like this Texas Spiny Lizard shedding his skin.

We also saw this rare shrub, Snake Eyes, so called because of it's creamy, translucent, fleshy fruit holding a single black seed inside, which gives the impression of a snake eye.

Another rare plant for Texas was David's Milk Berry

Our next stop was Hugh Ramsey Park, where Mike Rickard spotted a Shadowed Hairstreak, a first U.S. record!  Most people commented that they would have walked right by it, thinking it was a common Gray Hairstreak, but not Mike! He immediately noticed something different about this butterfly.

There was a lot of excitement being with the group that saw and photographed this butterfly.