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En route, S. Texas—N. Florida
It took me three weeks to drive from home to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas. On the way, I prowled Nevada ridges, Arizona canyons, and New Mexico borderlands. I moved a dozen black-tailed rattlesnakes off a lonely road one night, the Border Patrol investigating me almost every time; and I watched a roadrunner pecking big grasshoppers off the grills of autos at the Basin in Big Bend. Butterflies increased all along the way. At last I reached the storied Valley — the almost-ruined Texan tropics, where reserves and butterfly gardens abound among the sprawl.
For several days now, I have reveled and sweated my way from one butterfly hot-spot to another. Yesterday, in the western valley, master-birder/butterflier Benton Basham (who first broke 700 species on a birding Big Year) guided me to flowery spot after spot. We saw 79 species, almost 1/10 of the American fauna, 8 of which were new for my own Big Year. All day, we swam through high heat, humidity, chiggers, sand burrs, and 10’s of thousands of butterflies. I wish every one could have seen those two massive Malachites together on purple mistflower, and the five species of impressive long-tailed skippers. I’ll be back to the valley for two more periods. Meanwhile, here is a collage of a few of the prominent species. RMP.
These species are, in order:
Snout (the most abundant of all — millions)!
This butterfly is certainly not here — it is South American. But another indigo & black beauty, the Mexican Bluewing, abounds!
I found this card floating on the surface of a stream near Big Bend Nat’l Park. Quite
appropriate, as it turns out, since it was at Sotol viewpoint between Panther Junction and Cottonwood Camp on the Rio Grande where I found both the Chinati and Fulvia Checkerspots — two uncommon beauties. Chinati is a specialty of the Chisos Mtns.