Rio Grande Valley, Texas
Butterfly Trip

With Bill & Naomi Murphy
Thursday, November 3 through Wednesday, November 9, 2005

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Butterfly List

Bird List


Xami Hairstreak at Loma Alta

November 3, 2005 (Thursday)
We got into McAllen around 1:30PM and picked up our rental car. After dropping off our bags at the Best Western Inn in McAllen we drove to Santa Ana NWR. It was sunny and very warm but the gardens were pretty quiet. The entrance garden looks newly re-planted. “A” trail is closed so we did a brief walk around “B” trail.

    SPECIES SEEN
  • Giant Swallowtail (1)
  • Cloudless Sulphur
  • Large Orange Sulphur
  • Lyside Sulphur (1)
  • Little Yellow
  • Gray Hairstreak (2)
  • Red-bordered Metalmark (1)
  • Metalmark sp. probably Fatal or Rounded
  • American Snout - lots !!!
  • Gulf Fritillary
  • Julia
  • Mexican Fritillary - very poor looks at what would be a “north American” first for me so I would like to get better looks
  • Bordered Patch
  • Pale-banded Crescent
  • Phaon Crescent
  • White Peacock
  • Common Mestra
  • Tawny Emperor – amazing numbers…. everywhere!!!!
  • Monarch
  • Queen
  • Mimosa Skipper (1)
  • Brown-banded Skipper
  • 'White' Common Checkered-Skipper
  • Tropical Checkered-Skipper
  • Clouded Skipper
  • Fiery Skipper

    Species seen – 25

Giant Swallowtail

Red-bordered Metalmark

It was Naomi's choice for dinner so we crossed over to the north side of the highway for a lovely dinner at the Olive Garden.
November 4, 2005 (Friday)
After breakfast at the motel we drove east to Laguna Atascosa where we had some great birds and butterflies. One of the highlights of the trip was a sighting of an Aplomado Falcon . I know it’s an introduced bird in this area but what a great bird. The gardens here are incredible. A large garden is across the driveway and there are extensive gardens around and behind the visitor’s center. We also drove the Bayside Drive stopping at the Moranco Blanco and Paisano trails. There were a few nice birds but very few leps. All the butterfly action seems to be concentrated in the amazing gardens. I managed to get a few nice photos although the wind made things a bit difficult.

Leaving Laguna Atascosa we drove south to Sabal Palms which was very disappointing. We had some nice birds, especially waterfowl, but there were very few leps. The gardens looked miserable; all dried up and practically deserted.

Great Purple Hairstreak

Clouded Skipper

Little Yellow

    SPECIES SEEN
  • Giant Swallowtail (30+)
  • Great Southern White – this is the common large white out along the coast and there were certainly quite a few flying about.
  • Southern Dogface (2+)
  • Little Yellow with the 2 black dots at the base of the under HW
  • **Great Purple Hairstreak** (3)
    What an amazing looking bug. The first one I found was very worn but the other 2 were gorgeous!!!!
  • Dusky-blue Groundstreak (1)
  • Clytie Ministreak (1)
  • Ceraunus Blue
  • Red-bordered Metalmark – quite a few
  • Gulf Fritillary
  • Julia
  • Variegated Fritillary (1)
  • Theona Checkerspot (2+)
  • Bordered Patch
  • Pearl Crescent
  • Common Buckeye
  • White Peacock
  • Common Mestra
  • Tropical Leafwing
  • Tawny Emperor
  • Carolina Satyrs at Sabal Palms
  • Monarch
  • Queen
  • White-striped Longtail (1+)
  • Long-tailed Skipper
  • Brown Longtail
  • Mimosa Skipper
  • Sickle-winged Skipper
  • White-patched Skipper (1)
  • 'White' Common Checkered-Skipper
  • Tropical Checkered-Skipper
  • Laviana White-Skipper
  • Julia's Skipper
  • Clouded Skipper
  • Eufala Skipper
  • Ocola Skipper

    Species seen – 36

I photographed a bug that might be a Fawn-spotted Skipper at Sabal Palms but I can’t be sure. Also possibly had Obscure and Olive-clouded at Laguna but definitely need better looks

Bill chose Luby’s as our dinner spot tonight. While very much a Texas tradition, I’m not a big fan!


November 5, 2005 (Saturday)
Our first stop of the day was at the WBC at Bentsen (A) . The gardens looked great and the eups were definitely in bloom. Butterflies were everywhere. It’s hard to believe these plantings are only a year old.

We then made a stop at NABA Park (B) . The gardens here were not as great as Laguna or even Bentsen for that matter but there were some nice bugs. We spent a little while here before returning to Bentsen where we met Dave Hanson who told us of some nice bugs at the Armory Gardens in Mission and at Frontera.

Lucy’s Garden (C) and the garden at the Armory (D) had a few nice bugs and offered some nice photos ops.

We then went east and stopped at Frontera Audubon (E) which had lots of bugs and some very active bait stations. The Valley Nature Center (F) gardens, however, were dead although the center itself was very nice. They had lots of great books, including the revision of Kim’s book.

    SPECIES SEEN
  • Pipevine Swallowtail (A) (B)
  • Giant Swallowtail- 1-2 individuals at most sites
  • Great Southern White (A) (B)
  • Southern Dogface (A) (B) (E)
  • Large Orange Sulphur
  • Lyside Sulphur – very common everywhere
  • Little Yellow
  • Great Purple Hairstreak (A) (1)
  • Silver-banded Hairstreak (E) (1)
    Big stand of balloon vine along the fence is pretty mature so only 1 silver-banded was found. They need “younger” plants.
  • Gray Hairstreak (D)
  • Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak C) (D)
  • Western Pygmy-Blue (C)
  • Ceraunus Blue (A) (B)
  • American Snout - everywhere
  • Julia (B)
  • Variegated Fritillary
  • Bordered Patch
  • Pale-banded Crescent (E)
  • Phaon Crescent
  • Pearl Crescent (E)
  • Question Mark (E) coming in to the bait
  • Painted Lady (E)
  • Red Admiral (E)
  • Common Buckeye
  • White Peacock
  • Mexican Bluewing (B) males and females
  • Common Mestra
  • *****Tropical Leafwing **** (A) (E) 2 at Frontera using bait
  • Tawny Emperor – zillions !!!!!!
  • Carolina Satyr (E)
  • Monarch
  • Queen
  • ***Hammock Skipper **
    Dave told us about this bug at the Armory Garden and, luckily we found it quite easily.
  • White-striped Longtail (E)
  • **Zilpa Longtail ** (1) (A)
  • Brown Longtail
  • Sickle-winged Skipper
  • White-patched Skipper (A)
  • Mournful Duskywing – (D) probably
    I could not make out the species but that’s what it was called by Dave
  • 'White' Common Checkered-Skipper
  • Tropical Checkered-Skipper
  • Turk's-cap White-Skipper (A) (E)
  • Julia's Skipper
  • Clouded Skipper – very common !!! got some good photos
  • Fiery Skipper
  • Whirlabout (B)
  • Southern Broken-Dash
  • Sachem
  • Eufala Skipper
  • Ocola Skipper

    Species seen – 50

Large Orange

Silver-banded Hairstreak

Tropical Leafwing

Question Mark

My choice for dinner tonight and I/we chose the Red Lobster. Yum!!!!
November 6, 2005 (Sunday)
We made a return visit to Santa Ana (A) . The gardens were still pretty quiet although we found some nice bugs along the “B” trail, around the Cemetery and along the very long Resaca Trail. The amazing highlight was all the Mexican Bluewings along the Resaca Trail. We were flushing them off the trails (30+). The other great highlight was a gorgeous Gray Crack at the “bluewing tree”. While I got great looks, all attempts to photograph the little bugger were in vain. We also ran into Benton Basham and Rich Cech (with Emily).

We then drove to the Mission West RV Park (B) and walked the famous hedge looking for Marius Hairstreak. While we found lots of leps, all we saw was a worn Gray Hairstreak.

We finished up the day with stops at Bentsen WBC (C) and NABA Park (D) where we ran into 8 year old Seleste and her father Fernando. Seleste is amazing; she found and ID’d the Blomsfeld Beauty at Ferontera. We also ran into Rick and Emily again and Dave and Jan Dauphin.

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

American Snout

Ocola Skipper

    SPECIES SEEN
  • Pipevine Swallowtail (C)
  • Giant Swallowtail
  • Giant White (A)
  • Southern Dogface
  • Large Orange Sulphur
  • Lyside Sulphur – an amazing size variation within this species
  • Little Yellow
  • Mimosa Yellow (C)
  • Sleepy Orange – winter form 1 (B)
  • Gray Hairstreak – got good photos of this bug because were looking for a Marius which is similar but it really looked like a Gray
  • Ceraunus Blue
  • Reakirt's Blue – 1 at (C)
  • Metalmark sp. – still can’t separate Fatal and Rounded …drat!!!!
  • American Snout
  • Gulf Fritillary
  • **** Mexican Fritillary *** (B)
  • Bordered Patch
  • Elada Checkerspot (A) at the cemetery
  • Pale-banded Crescent (A)
  • Phaon Crescent (D)
  • Painted Lady (B)
  • White Peacock
  • Mexican Bluewing
    (A) 4+ at the usual “bluewing tree” opposite the stone marker on trail B. ( the old ranger’s station??? ) and an amazing 30+ along the Resaca Trail.
    (D) we also had 2+ coming to a fallen tree at NABA Park
  • Common Mestra
  • ******Gray Cracker *****
    great looks at a bug that kept coming into the bluewing tree at (A). Unfortunately, every time I tried to take a photo, just at the moment of clicking, the darned thing would flutter so I got terrible photos.
  • Tawny Emperor
  • Gemmed Satyr - 2 (A) at the bluewing tree
  • Carolina Satyr (A)
  • Monarch
  • Queen
  • Long-tailed Skipper
  • Brown Longtail
  • Mimosa Skipper 1 at (C)
  • Sickle-winged Skipper
  • White-patched Skipper (A) (C)
  • 'White' Common Checkered-Skipper
  • Tropical Checkered-Skipper
  • Laviana White-Skipper
  • Turk's-cap White-Skipper
  • Julia's Skipper (A) (B)
  • Fiery Skipper
  • Southern Broken-Dash
  • ******Brazilian Skipper ***** large, dark above with 3-4 white spots on forewing
  • Ocola Skipper

    Species seen – 43

We met Rick and Emily at the Republic of the Rio Grande for a lovely dinner and some great conversation.
November 7, 2005 (Monday)
This was the day to drive west. While we got into some interesting and different habitat, the butterflying was disappointing.

Our first stop was Falcon State Park (A) where we wandered around, not really sure of where we needed to be. We did find one small patch of eupatorium with a few bugs but not much (some good birds, though).

We then headed back east stopping at Salineno (B) where we headed towards the river stopping at Pat and Gale Dewinds to check out their feeders. What an amazing couple? We had a couple of nice birds here and a quiet look at the river although a Mexican Bluewing was a bit of a surprise.

along the Rio Grande River

We stopped by Roma (C) and walked along the river, again. And again it was pretty quiet. It wasn’t until Rio Grande city (D) that we found bugs, walking the RR tracks opposite the Wal-mart. Lots of eups and lots of bugs!!!!

We dipped out again at LaGrulla , mostly because, once again, we couldn’t find it. Talking to Dave Hanson later at Bentsen it was clear that Eileen’s directions are a bit off. She said to go .6 miles and, per Dave, it’s much further down the road. Oh well. At least I know it wasn’t me the last time.

We stopped off at the entrance walk to Bentsen (E) before going back to NABA Park (F).

Caterpillars

    SPECIES SEEN
  • Pipevine Swallowtail (A)
  • Giant Swallowtail (E)
  • Southern Dogface
  • Large Orange Sulphur
  • Lyside Sulphur – lots…everywhere
  • Little Yellow (D)
  • Sleepy Orange (D)
  • Gray Hairstreak
  • Ceraunus Blue
  • American Snout
  • Gulf Fritillary
  • Variegated Fritillary (D)
  • Mexican Fritillary (D)
  • Bordered Patch
  • Phaon Crescent
  • Question Mark
  • Painted Lady (D)
  • Red Admiral (C)
  • Common Buckeye
    Also photographed a very dark Buckeye with bright orange surrounding the FW eyespot.
  • White Peacock
  • Mexican Bluewing (B) 1 along the river
  • Tawny Emperor - again, everywhere !!!
  • Carolina Satyr (B)
  • Monarch
  • Queen
  • Long-tailed Skipper
  • Sickle-winged Skipper
  • 'White' Common Checkered-Skipper
  • Clouded Skipper
  • Southern Skipperling (E)
  • Fiery Skipper
  • Ocola Skipper

    Species seen – 32

We went to a really nice restaurant over on the north side… 1600 block north 11th…… Casa de Mar.


November 8, 2005 (Tuesday)
Today was the clean-up day and there was no hesitation. We headed east to the coast again and the amazing gardens at Laguna Atascosa (A) where were once again had some great bugs including a few new ones but a fun mammal sighting was a Bobcat right next to the Visitors Center.

Bobcat at Laguna Atascosa Visitor's Center

We then headed south to the Old Port Isabel Road (Loma Alto) and the shooting club where, thanks to Dave Hanson’s great directions we had no problem finding Xami’s Hairstreak.

On our way back home we stopped off at Frontera Audubon (C) where some nice bugs had been reported. We managed to find a few as well as running into Louise Zemaitis, Mike O’Brien and Paul Lehmann from Cape May.

    SPECIES SEEN
  • Giant Swallowtail
  • Great Southern White
  • Southern Dogface (A)
  • Cloudless Sulphur
  • Large Orange Sulphur
  • Lyside Sulphur
  • Little Yellow
  • Great Purple Hairstreak (A)
  • Silver-banded Hairstreak 1 (A) and 1 (C)
  • ***** Xami Hairstreak*****
    What a snazzy looking bug ! We had at least 5 individuals along the fence line to the left of the entrance road to the shooting club; one was very worn but the others were all gorgeous and we got some good photos ops. They seemed to be hanging out very close to their larval plant, low lying succulents.
  • Gray Hairstreak
  • Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak (A) 1
  • Dusky-blue Groundstreak (A) 1
  • Clytie Ministreak (A) 1
  • Western Pygmy-Blue
  • Ceraunus Blue
  • Red-bordered Metalmark
  • ***** Blue Metalmark*****
    We were very lucky to find this gorgeous male at (A).
  • Red-bordered Pixie (C)
  • American Snout
  • Gulf Fritillary
  • Julia (C)
  • Variegated Fritillary (A)
  • Mexican Fritillary (A)
  • Bordered Patch
  • Pale-banded Crescent
  • Phaon Crescent
  • Pearl Crescent
  • Red Admiral (C) coming into the bait
  • White Peacock
  • Malachite (C) 1 at the bird blind sitting deep in the understory
  • Common Mestra (C)
  • Tropical Leafwing (C) on the bailt
  • Tawny Emperor
  • Carolina Satyr
  • Monarch
  • Queen
  • Soldier
  • *****Guava Skipper***** (C) 2
    A very worn bug was photographed before a gorgeous bug was seen well along the trail
  • White-striped Longtail (C)
  • Brown Longtail
    Need to work on this…. Some have varying white lines in the forewing???
  • Sickle-winged Skipper
  • White-patched Skipper
  • Mournful Duskywing
  • 'White' Common Checkered-Skipper
  • Tropical Checkered-Skipper
  • ** Pale-rayed Skipper** (A)
  • Clouded Skipper
  • Southern Skipperling
  • Fiery Skipper
  • Whirlabout
  • Sachem
  • **Olive-clouded Skipper** (A)
  • ** Obscure Skipper** (A)
  • Ocola Skipper

    Species seen – 55

Blue Metalmark

Dusky-blue Groundstreak

Malachite

For dinner we headed back to the Red Lobster for our “farewell” dinner; our farewell to Texas, anyway since we're all traveling back together. It’s been a great trip and it’s hard to leave when things seem to be heating up... but there's always next year, and the year after, and the year after....