Are you tired of butterflies and hummingbirds?

I did another butterfly survey yesterday. Again, not a good day for butterflies as I only saw one, but I did see several other types of insects, including bees. I also managed to get a couple of photos of lizards.

Can you spot the horned lizard?

The hummingbirds are going through 1/2 gallon of nectar most days. While the feeders from the Dollar Tree have worked well, I’m starting to see more wasps and bees at the feeders. In researching how to eliminate these around the feeders I came up with the information that they are attracted to the yellow flowers and using feeders without yellow is the solution. I have no idea how good that information is, but was willing to give it a shot. I found some feeders made in the USA that were not terribly expensive and which have ten feeding ports (as opposed to three) and no yellow. I ordered a few and picked them up from the post office this morning. I hung one this afternoon and within a very short period of time saw a male Rufous hummingbird. This was really exciting since up to now I have only seen black chinned and broad tailed hummingbirds. The Rufous is one of the four species considered “common” to the state. A couple of hours later I saw a male Ruby Throated. The Ruby Throated hummingbird is considered an “accidental” species in New Mexico so this was even more exciting. I eventually decided I would take my small camera outside to try for a picture of one (or both) of these. Of course, as soon as I went out, the only hummingbirds to be seen were the two common species that have been frequenting the feeders.

One of the new feeders with a female
Do you see the male black chinned?

And more butterflies and hummingbirds

Photographs were taken with my phone. It almost makes me want to buy a decent digital camera . . . but I’m not there yet.

Yesterday I did another butterfly survey. It was a good day for lizards, not so much for butterflies. I only saw four butterflies, all Hairstreaks. I did, however, see quite a number of lizards. I will have to start studying up on lizards as I saw what I think were three different species.

At home the hummingbirds are going through a phenomenal amount of nectar. I have now counted 8 hummingbirds at one time and have identified two species: black-chinned and broad-tailed.

I put up one fancy feeder and three cheap feeders from the Dollar Tree. All four feeders are regularly visited so once my Dollar Tree has more feeders in stock I will likely pick up several more. It is easy enough to fashion perches out of flexible garden wire (padded and used to secure plants) and as can be seen above, the hummers do indeed perch to feed when a perch is available.

Hummingbirds

The previous owners had left a hummingbird feeder hanging and in the almost fifteen years I have lived here I have seen hummingbirds stop and check it out every year. However, it was high enough that even on a step ladder I couldn’t easily reach it to take it down. I have instead just marveled at the fact that the high winds never blew it off the hook.

I was in town last week and though I had not intended to buy a hummingbird feeder I found one that was attractive and not unreasonably priced which I bought and brought home. I hung it under the gazebo on a hook I had put up for a hanging plant last year. Even though it wasn’t the “traditional” red with yellow flowers, it didn’t take long for the hummingbirds to find it.

Copper and glass with red metal flowers

I’m not sure how many hummingbirds are around – I’ve only seen four at the same time – but decided I needed at least one more feeder. I spent some time looking at various feeders on line and finally decided if I was going to have to settle for a red plastic feeder I would just buy feeders at the Dollar Tree. I bought three more feeders and used floral wire to fashion perches for each feeder since the hummers were using the perch on the more expensive feeder I had originally purchased.

While I managed to get the old hummingbird feeder down, I wasn’t able to get it taken apart to clean it so ended up disposing of it. I added some chain to lower the feeder to a height where I can easily take down and refill the replacement feeder and the hummingbirds found it in short order. The previous height put the feeder in a better location for me to observe hummers while I work, but it was either lower the feeder or not put one up. The hummers are just happy I finally put some food out and don’t care that it is about 24 inches lower.

I have seen hummingbirds at all four feeders so I guess the hummers are fine with tacky red plastic feeders if it means more food.

New Mexico Butterfly Monitoring Program

I did the first official survey on April 30, 2022 and took a friend along to take notes. I was amazed that vegetation in the area had started to green up despite the lack of rain. I did see five butterflies but could only identify one with specificity. Three I had to classify by species only and one I couldn’t even get that far.

The claret cup cacti were blooming in late April.

I did the second survey earlier this week, on May 17, 2022.

I did even worse in identifying butterflies on this survey. All but a few I caught in my peripheral vision and by the time I turned my head to get a better look they had fluttered off. I did manage to classify six of the thirteen that I saw by species.

I was hoping I’d be able to put up blog posts with photos of some of the butterflies but so far that doesn’t seem very likely.

The claret cups were no longer in bloom but the prickly pear had flowers.

Six Months! [Updated]

It is hard to believe, but six months ago Bug had a litter of five little bugs:

2 days old

I asked the new owners to provide a current photo and brief update on their pups so this post is for those who followed the progress of the “little bugs” as they went through their metamorphosis. [All the blog posts are tagged Litter and begin in October 2021 should you want to revisit the trip.]

Puppy #1: Litter name Grasshopper – now called Mouse and living in New Mexico

I set a deadline of four months to place the last puppy but was not able to find the right home so he ended up staying. Since Grasshopper was too much of a mouthful and by four months it was apparent that this pup was seal and not a true black, he was renamed Mouse (it also fits the theme of a name from the Dresden Files started with Sidhe years ago.) Mouse is really a little Fix clone. He is bright and learns quickly though he is hitting the age of “I’m a big dog now so don’t have to listen to you.”

Taken 04/21/22

Puppy #2: Litter name Cricket – now called Cricket and living in New Mexico

Here are some photos of Cricket.  She continues to be a very busy, confident, well socialized, loving dog.  There are moments where we see the 6 month independence but for the most part she remains well behaved.  Easter weekend we had the kids, grandkids and 4 extra dogs that come with them and she loved every minute of it. Only problem was during the easter egg hunt, she was “finding them” while they were being hidden so had to be put in the house.  I like the first photo because it shows her always happy self the best but thought you might like to see her with adult dogs for scale.

Puppy #3: Litter name Grub – now called Grubber and living in Vermont

Grubber is doing great! He has made fast friends with his new sister, Roxy. They play hard and snuggle when they wear themselves out. He has learned to sit, lay down, stay and touching point. He is working on shaking paws and rolling over. 

Grubber is growing so very much. He can stretch far enough to reach the cooling maple whoopie pies on the counter…that he couldn’t reach a few days prior…  He is a total family dog…loves everyone…and is learning not to bark at everyone that comes to the door…it is a long process…but has gotten so much better over the last couple of weeks. 

His snuggle time is wonderful…he loves to be on you…not next to you…but right on top of you. He likes to keep dibs on you and make sure you’re not too lonely…. He has been an amazing addition to our family and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

And this isn’t current but I absolutely loved it so am sharing:

Puppy #4: Litter name Flea – now called Beau and living in New Mexico

Taken 04/21/22

Puppy #5: Litter name Beetle – now called Mookie and living in Vermont

Was promised an update and current photo so will update this post once I receive those.

Update: Mookie is growing like a weed and currently weighs 44 lbs. He is a wonderful, faithful dog. He loves to go on hikes with me and his sister, Lady, who is an Australian Shepherd/ Retriever mix. While she takes off in the woods to hunt for squirrels, he never follows her to the point of being out of my sight. He is faithful to ck back in and return to me as we continue. He is much like our previous dog which was a lab, in that he is motivated by food and loves to have his belly and ears rubbed. Unfortunately, he has developed a bad habit of getting food off the counters or tables when no-one is looking, and even if we are! Yikes, need to do some training on that! He is protective and a bit skitish when it comes to strangers. He usually barks at anyone who comes to the door and especially if they have sunglasses, a hat or hood on, he seems to be very concerned about and barks in a somewhat aggressive way. We will need to help him with a little more socialization but we are also grateful for his protective nature, living on a farm on the main road where we on occasion have had things go missing. We are happy to have him as part of the family and look forward to many years of having him on the farm.

Happy Easter

I came back from feeding for a friend this morning and decided to leave the truck at the gate and walk down to the house. Luckily for the snake as I’m not sure I would have seen it – or been able to avoid it had I seen it – if I had been driving the truck.

About 3 feet or a little longer
Not sure what kind but I don’t think it was a rattler. Anyone know?

Butterflies

I volunteered to assist with the New Mexico Butterfly Monitoring Program this season and met up with another volunteer last week to walk the route I’ve been assigned. It is at Sevellita National Wildlife Refuge so only about 25 minutes from home. Since I know virtually nothing about butterflies, I got some tips on identification and a book recommendation. The on-line course which is a prerequisite for volunteers also mentioned a few books, one of which I hoped to pick up this weekend at the Bosque del Apache Nature Store.

After dropping off a jar of water from my well to be tested by the State of New Mexico’s Environmental Department, I picked up a friend on Saturday and headed down to the Bosque del Apache. While I didn’t find the book I was looking for, I did get a nice laminated brochure with the most common butterflies in this area to carry with me and a small book focused on butterflies I am likely to see. Before we left, we toured the garden maintained by the Friends of the Bosque del Apache. My friend took a nice photo of a cactus in bloom and then a close up of one flower.

Points to anyone recognizing the species of cactus.

Bonus points to anyone recognizing the bird below.

Getting Ready for Summer

The spring winds arrived early and appear to be hanging on but I’m hopeful that eventually I’ll be able to use the gazebo again. The nighttime temperatures are still dropping too low for the geraniums but I have hopes I’ll be able to move them out to the gazebo by the end of the month. In the meantime, last week while I was up in Albuquerque, I swung by my favorite nursery and bought two bags of my favorite potting mix for hanging baskets and a purslane for my first hanging basket of the season. I had good luck with portulaca in hanging baskets last year so I set up a couple of baskets and sowed some seeds – will have to see if that works or if I’m going to have to buy started plants.

While I was out Saturday with a friend, we stopped off at a shop in town to look for a Mexican frog. I had bought one last year and after living with it for about a month, decided it just wasn’t the right frog for me so had passed it along to my friend.

Here is the frog at my friend’s place

Here are the lizards I bought last year

And finally, here is the new frog. Will see if I still like it after I’m spending time under the gazebo. If not, then I guess my friend gets a new frog this year.

Another Year . . .

Happy birthday Fix! Hard to believe but Fix turned five today.

Carrying on the tradition – here is a photo of Fix in (roughly) the same place as last year’s photo.

And here is Fix with Mouse (who turned 5 months earlier this week on the 22nd)

2-22-22

A friend told me this was a lucky day. I’m not convinced of that but the pups turned 4 months old today and that was my deadline to find a home for the last pup. Since I wasn’t able to find the right home for him, he now is officially “my” dog.

His new name is “Mouse” – it appears that he is seal and white and not black and white and I expect his adult coat will be more of a dark gray than true black. While I didn’t want – or need – another pup at this time, he is the type of pup I look for and is bright and biddable. He is already starting to help put chickens up at night and ignores them during the day when they are free-ranging.

He has been learning a “place” command where he has to stay on an elevated bed next to my desk until he is given permission to get off the bed. These two photos are from this morning.

Can we go out and play now?