Archivos de Diario para enero 2024

21 de enero de 2024

August in the Pecos- Journal Entries One and Two

On 8/1/23 arrived at my family’s cabin with Rachel and Julia, to stay for a week. Thus far, there has been an incredible quantity and variety of life, mainly insects, to observe and photograph. Species (known and unknown) include: hover flies, Adejeania vexatrix, Police Car Moths, a crab spider, Melanoplus, Blues, Commas, a Wandering Garter Snake, possible Aculepeira, slug, bat (inside the cabin), Ladies, aphids, Erigeron, Paintbrush, lichens, mosses, Antlions, Fireweed, Mule Deer, Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels, hummingbirds, Flickers, and much more.
Daytime temperatures peak at about 80°F, nighttime hovers around the high 50s. Mainly sunny, with some cloud cover. Last night a distant storm was visible, as lightning flashed and thunder rolled.
We have mainly stuck around the cabin, venturing only to the valleys to the north and south. Today, however, we drove to Winsor Trailhead and walked the trail up to the point where it heads uphill from the stream.
Some notes on natural history:
-Contrasted to a previous cabin trip in June 2022, the coneflower is very visible. Now is clearly its flowering season.
-I saw many harvestmen on thistles during the daytime. I was intrigued, since in my experience, they are normally more ground-dwelling and nocturnal.
-There seems to be more fungi around the cabin this year.
-At this high elevation (more than 8,000 feet), the selection of animals that occur is fascinating. Two species of snakes, one species of lizard that I know of. Very few arachnids, but many insects. In a word- why?

Seems a bit cooler today, more cloud cover. A bit after noon I went out to the stone wall, covered in birdseed being eaten by a number of chipmunks and Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels. Steller’s Jays swooped to and fro.
I sat as still as I could on the wall; the chipmunks dared to come close to me and the Ground Squirrels, even closer.
Then I sat by a stump that was also covered in birdseed. A particularly bold Ground Squirrel came close, pawed at my ankle, then, to my surprise, climbed up and sat in my lap for a moment.

Publicado el 21 de enero de 2024 a las 11:26 PM por ectothermist ectothermist | 33 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de enero de 2024

August in the Pecos- Journal Entry Three

Today visited Holy Ghost Creek. Temperature (in the sun) was about 80-84° F. White clouds scudded here and there across an otherwise clear sky. We were thrown into shade and sun alternately.
We took what I think was trail 283 at the far west end of the road. Just prior, Rachel found a sleekly patterned, black-and-white Jumping Spider, probably of the genus Pelegrina.
Further finds by Rachel included a large, pink-striped Crab Spider female guarding her leaf-wrapped egg sac, a Jewel Bug (family Scutellaridae) of the genus Homaemus, and a snail shell. I had never seen Jewel Bugs in the Pecos before this trip, but they did not seem uncommon; we have seen three in all, so far.
The snail shell was something special. It had belonged to a Mountainsnail, genus Oreohelix. I had only ever seen one previously. Like desert regions, the high-altitude forests of the Sangre de Cristos have little gastropod diversity, so the few species that do occur there are noteworthy.
Walking on a few yards across the stream from the first shell’s location, I was astounded to see dozens more empty ones strewn across the forest floor. Mass deposits of snail shells seem to be common, representing many species in different places. Why is this? How does this happen? Are many snails, perhaps, caught by fatal heat and dryness unawares?
Other species seen included:
-A Shamrock Orbweaver (Araneus trifolium). Rachel persuaded the relatively small, red-backed female from her leafy retreat.
-A variety of native bees. One was a Longhorn Bee of the genus Svastra, large, honey-brown, fuzzy, and green-eyed; other bees were metallic green; one had its abdomen checkerboarded in black and white.
-A Comma (genus Polygonia). I had previously seen several of these, but none would stay still long enough to photograph. This individual, however, was very patient and stayed perched for several minutes, on some sort of thistle in an open meadow.
-A red-hued Pinesap plant (Monotropa hypopitys).
-A great variety of other insects, including a Taxiles Skipper (Lon taxiles), Variable Roundtail hoverfly (Meligramma triangulifera), Coral Hairstreak (Satyrium titus), a Thick-headed Fly, species Physocephala burgessi, Cutworm Wasps (genus Podalonia), a Garita Skipperling (Oarisma garita), and more unknown. One insect in particular that I was not able to photograph was a white butterfly, its wing veins heavily outlined in black. It was likely a Pine White (Neophasia menapia).
Other observations: This creek and canyon were exceptionally beautiful in scenery and diverse in species. The complete lack of invasive Honey Bees (Apis mellifera), as in most areas of the Pecos, was refreshing.
This area experienced more wind while we were there than we had yet encountered on our trip.
The differences in flora and fauna of various, otherwise similar locales (canyons, streams, mountains, and hilltops) in the same broad area is intriguing- as are the similarities in species diversity.

Publicado el 25 de enero de 2024 a las 08:54 PM por ectothermist ectothermist | 17 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

29 de enero de 2024

August in the Pecos- Journal Entry Four

Started off the day, photography-wise, with a large, black Carabid beetle (species Carabus taedatus) under a log. While I was photographing it, a brown jumping spider, genus Evarcha, came onto the scene. I photographed it as well.
I next wandered down to the back of the cabin and examined the rocks there for fossils. This resulted in finding the imprints of two Brachiopod valves.
Heading down to the valley on the south side, I was surprised to encounter a large blue dragonfly skimming over the grass- the first one I had ever seen around the cabin. Also came across a very patient Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme).
Our excursion today was to a nearby prominence. We left the cabin around 2:30 PM. On some Rudbeckia growing by the path, I saw a Small Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis oetus); by the stream, an all-yellow blister beetle in the genus Zonitis; on a Black-eyed Susan (I think) farther up, an immature, green grasshopper (genus Melanoplus).
On the final ascent, Rachel pointed out a small, black-and-white striped beetle with an orange-red carapace. More of them soon became apparent. I had seen this species, Calligrapha continua, on a trip several years earlier.
On the summit, blue-green hills and gray-tipped peaks ringed us all around. Under the crystalline blue sky, the wind blew and shook the tall grass, peppered here and there with Owl’s-Clover, Paintbrush, Verbena, and more.
The thing I most hoped to see on our hike was one of the Greater Short-horned Lizards (Phrynosoma hernandesi) that frequented the area. However, by the time we got to the top, we had seen none. I ran through the possibilities: it was too late in the day (about 4:30 PM); the season had been too dry or otherwise inclement… What could it be?
In the meantime Rachel called me over to look at something. It proved to be a female Mormon Cricket (Anabrus simplex), the first time I had seen one on this summit and the first I had seen in the Pecos since 2012. The tan-colored “cricket” was alone, as was the last one- curious, given the species’ propensity to swarm.
In the vicinity, I noticed a small spiderweb with an orbweaver of the genus Metepeira perched in it. A small white clump of webbing was woven into the center of the web. This was the only one so far recorded on iNaturalist in the Santa Fe Mountains.
We headed down. We were traversing a stony, narrow path along a grassy slope when Rachel called out that she had found a Horned Lizard! I had given up hope, but there it was. The gray-tan, squat and spiky lizard ran in its characteristic waddling fashion when approached. After a little while, however, it consented to sit still for photos. I brought my lens in close to capture the miniature dinosaur-like creature, with its bulldog face and beady dark eyes. I had never seen one this close to the cabin before.
That concluded our hike, but I neglected to mention that we saw about a dozen Turkey Vultures wheeling through the sky above a meadow. Not sure what they were after; we saw no indication of anything dead.
The weather of the day was largely similar to previous days, with the exception of a wind strong enough to dislodge my hat.

Publicado el 29 de enero de 2024 a las 01:13 AM por ectothermist ectothermist | 15 observaciones | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario