Annual Butterfly Count in Las Vegas, NM

Last Sunday I met up with my butterfly friends to attend the only annual butterfly count held in New Mexico. The weather has been extremely hot in Albuquerque so I was looking forward to heading north to more normal June temperatures.

The drive there takes about 2 hours and it goes right past one of my favorite birding spots…Valley Irrigation Road in Moriarty. So I left a little early so I could drive down this road.

I hadn’t been down that road for a few weeks. I was surprised to see the Otto Pond migrant trap had tripled in size. I could hear several variety of shore birds but couldn’t see them. But a Great Blue Heron was very close by and lots of doves.

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Great Blue Heron

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Mourning Dove

Since not much else was out I hit the road.ย  Taking Highway 41 is always a pretty drive. Saw a beautiful prong horn antelope and wide open scenery.

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Ortiz Mountains in the distance

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Church at Galisteo

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Prong Horn Antelope

We were to meet at a location north of Las Vegas called Montezuma. I’d never been there before. It was a beautiful place with lots of water and lush vegetation.

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Canada Goose

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After everyone met up we were divided up to cover more ground. My group opted for the higher elevations. First we stopped at a campground that is closed for repairs…which was great because we were the only people that were there. We got quite a variety and number of butterflies there.ย  We started out walking together but soon spread out.

I was ahead of Joe and Rebecca by a ways and was searching the stream and grasses on my right not paying attention to my left. All of a sudden I caught my breath because I had just disturbed about 20 swallowtail butterflies and they all flew up around me.ย  I quickly called out “Joe!” He came running up just in time to see them land back on the road. It was so beautiful that he ran back and got Rebecca.

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Western Tiger Swallowtail

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Two-Tailed Swallowtail

DSC_5914 DSC_5928 DSC_5961 DSC_5955Further up the road we saw many more variety of butterflies.

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Mexican Yellow

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Western Pine Elfin

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Northern Crescent

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Painted Lady

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Hoary Comma

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Hoary Comma

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Pacuvius Duskywing

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Silvery Checkerspot

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Margined White

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Northern Cloudywing

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Weidemeyer’s Admiral

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Echo Azure

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Northern Crescent

ย  When we were heading back to the car I heard all this noise in the brush and could see the bushes swaying like something huge was headed my way. I immediately thought “bear!” and my adrenalin kicked in…but then I saw the culprit. Thank God it was a horse!

DSC_6186Next we headed up to Johnson Mesa which is at an altitude of 9,467 feet above sea level. It was a gorgeous location. Thunderstorms were close by but fortunately never came over us.

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Joe and Rebecca searching the meadow for butterflies

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Selfie ๐Ÿ™‚

DSC_2413But because there were more clouds and cooler temperatures there were a lot fewer butterflies flying. We combed the mesa looking for butterflies in the grasses and were rewarded with a few.

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Common Alpine

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Common Ringlet

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Common Checkered Skipper

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Painted Crescent

Throughout the day I looked for birds but they were scarce. But on the way down from Johnson Mesa we saw about six male Evening Grosbeak feeding on the side of the road. Gorgeous birds!

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Evening Grosbeak

At this point I left Joe and Rebecca and headed to Sapello to see a client for a signature. Since Sapello was still considered in the radius of our day I took some time to search for butterflies there. On the way to Sapello I did get a pretty good pic of a magpie. They had been eluding me all day. And I saw a Yellow-Breasted Chat land not 5 feet from me…but no chance to get a pic…..dang it!

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Black-Billed Magpie

By the time I made it to Sapello it was late afternoon. I couldn’t stay long but I still found a few butterflies to add to the count as well as a few fun photos.

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Silvery Checkerspot

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Red-Winged Blackbird – female

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Cloudy Sulphur – mating! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Old Convent

DSC_6423 DSC_6398 DSC_6395Overall a very long day by the time I drove two hours back home. But I had a wonderful time and definitely added quite a few new species to my butterfly list!

Tunnel Canyon Birding…. Sort of

Last Thursday the local birding group was meeting up very close to my house so I decided to join them. We hiked the lower valley area of Tunnel Canyon on South 14. We met at 8 am but even that early it was already pretty warm. We have had unseasonably hot weather this June.

Because it was so warm there really wasn’t much bird activity. I’m sure they were up at 5!ย  I did hear several birds…most notably a Yellow-Breasted Chat. I would have loved to get a photo but they are so shy. As soon as we got close to target him he stopped singing. And of course as soon as we moved on he started up again.

A fun find of the morning was a very plump horned toad feeding on an ant bed. He didn’t seem too concerned about us photographing him.

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Because it was so warm the butterflies were out in pretty good numbers. I had fun chasing them down for photos.

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Checkered White

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Acmon Blue

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Acmon Blue - a little tattered

I soon left the bird group behind. Got a fun photo of them though.

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Near the end of the hike someone with a sharp eye saw a gray flycatcher nesting.ย 

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Gray Flycatcher

And someone else found a gnome that came out to see what was going on.ย 

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All good finds that morning. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tough Week….

Well…I managed to get a summer cold. Made it through the winter without getting sick…figures…

So needless to say I haven’t done any hikes lately. I did manage to get a few butterflies over the past week.

Last Thursday I met up with the Thursday birder group up in Jemez Springs. The hike there was beautiful. No new birds for me. I tried in vain to get a pygmy nuthatch but no luck. Maurice pointed one out to me but I didn’t get a photo so it doesn’t make my list.

But I did get a couple of butterflies while there.

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Field Crescent

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Marine Blue

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Marine Blue

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Artic Blue

Then last Friday I had to drive to Santa Fe for work. I stopped in at the Randall Davey Audubon site but no luck birding. I think every school kid within a 25-mile radius was there running, screaming, scaring everything in the vicinity. But I found a couple of butterflies.

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Common Checkered Skipper

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Checkered White

Then I got knocked down by my cold. Managed to get one butterfly in my own yard.

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Canyonland Satyr

Yesterday I finally started feeling like I was going to live so I drove to Bill Spring for a couple of hours. Glad I did because I got a couple of beauties. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Question Mark Comma (I think lol!)

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Western Tiger Swallowtail

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Weidemeyer's Admiral

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Hoary Comma

This coming Sunday is an annual butterfly count in Las Vegas, NM. I’m hoping to attend. Will be fun to chase butterflies in the sun for a few hours after being home bound this week.

I’m all Ears!!!

Miss Scarlett is growing up fast. She’s three months old now. She’s gotten taller and her ears are starting to stand up.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

She has been a real joy.ย  She loves to learn and explore. All housebroken and loves to go for car rides. I can’t wait to take her hiking.ย  Two more weeks before all shots are done. Soon!

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Kelly

Capulin Spring, Sandia Mountains, NM

I haven’t been to Capulin Spring since last fall.ย  Yesterday morning the weather was slightly overcast and a little cool.ย  I thought it would be good conditions to visit. Boy! Was I right! When I got there I was amazed at all the birdsong. And even better I was the only one there ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I stayed for about three hours.

As soon as I walked up to the spring a Band-Tailed Pidgeon flew away. I was disappointed not to get a photo. I’ve photographed them twice before with pitiful results. However, I stood very still hiding behind the trees and was rewarded by a return visit and was able to get a great photo.

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Band-Tailed Pigeon

There were a lot of Hermit Thrushes. They weren’t shy at all. I had fun watching them come in for a bath.

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Hermit Thrush

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Hermit Thrush

The warblers were scarce which was disappointing. I didn’t see but one Orange-Crowned Warbler way up high singing and a couple of shy Yellow-Rumped Warblers.

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler

The Western Tanager was scarce as well until late in the morning. But was rewarded by several pairs coming in for a drink. I will never tire of photographing them!

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Western Tanager

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Western Tanager female

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Western Tanager

The Chipping Sparrows were abundant. They were everywhere. They always seem a chipper lot ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Chipping Sparrow

A Steller’s Jay was being harrased by a pair of Plumbeous Vireo who must have had a nest nearby. The vireo were so busy chasing that Jay that I was hard pressed to get a photo.

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Plumbeous Vireo

While trying to capture a picture of the vireos I saw a Fox Sparrow way up high in a tree. I managed to snap one quick pic before he flew away. Was thrilled to get one photo (evenย  though it’s not great) because it’s a lifer for me! Never saw it again the rest of the time I was there.

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Fox Sparrow

At one point I patiently waited for a Green-Tailed Towhee to get the courage up to visit the spring. He was well worth the wait. Such a striking bird.ย  And his song is beautiful as well.

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Green-Tailed Towhee

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Green-Tailed Towhee

I was entertained by the ground squirrel.ย  They are so used to people that they are very relaxed….as evidenced by this pic ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Next time I will have to remember to bring some raw peanuts. This little guy climbed into my camera bad looking for goodies.

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Colorado Chipmunk

A few other birds visited very briefly.ย  I saw Dark-Eyed Juncos, American Robin, Pine Siskin, Warbling Vireo, Northern Flicker, Broad-Tailed Hummingbird, Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet and House Finch. Overall a very good morning!

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Northern Flicker

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Warbling Vireo

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Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

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Broad-Tailed Hummingbird getting a drink

But the highlight of my visit was seeing a Long-Tailed Weasel! He came out of the bushes and passed right in front of me!ย  I tried getting a photo but he was too fast. But as I was walking to my car I saw him again coming out of his burrow. Such a beautiful animal. He was very shy but I managed to get a few pics before he disappeared. I love getting surprises from nature.

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Long-Tailed Weasel

Sadly I had to leave….I think I could have sat there all day.ย  It was a peaceful, relaxing morning….which was much needed.

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Common Checkered Skipper

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Cool looking fly ๐Ÿ™‚

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Checkered White

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Standoff between a ladybug and stink bug....

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I guess the stink bug won!

Enjoying Spring Birds, Butterflies and Flowers

These past two weeks were challenging to find time to get outdoors and enjoy the highlights of spring birding and butterflies. But I did manage to sneak off for an hour or two here and there.  My busy schedule did make my journeys with my camera all the more sweeter due to the rarity. 

I took time one morning to hike Embudito canyon. The weather was very nice and I ended up hiking around the canyon for a couple of hours.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching a Scott’s Oriole sing. Such beautiful birds. I also saw a Bewick Wren…my favorite wren. I love their personalities.

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Scott's Oriole

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Bewick Wren

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Scaled Quail

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Ash-throated Flycatcher

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You meet all kinds of people on the trails.

I ventured to Bill Spring in the Sandias several times during the past couple of weeks since it is so close to home. It was so peaceful to sit still and listen to the flowing spring and birdsong. Very therapeutic for my stressful life these days. One of my favorite singers is the Hermit Thrush. I love the haunting quality of their voice as it echoes through the canyon.

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Hermit Thrush

Sitting quietly near the spring I was gifted with the sight of several different birds coming in to drink and bathe. Always makes me feel blessed to see the beauties of nature.

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Virginia Warbler

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Western Tanager

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Mountain Chickadee

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Black-headed Grosbeak

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Bluebonnet

On one occasion I met up with my new friend Joe to search for birds and butterflies in the area around Bill Spring. We tried finding the Northern Pygmy Owl but no luck. Third time to strike out for me. But while searching for him I did get two new lifer birds. A red-naped sapsucker (beautiful bird!) and a Warbliing Vireo. 

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Red-naped Sapsucker

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Warbling Vireo

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Cordilleran Flycatcher

We also saw lots of very pretty butterflies. They were enjoying the warm sunny morning.

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Arizona Sister

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Painted Lady

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Red Admiral

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Juniper Hairstreak

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Spring Azure

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Spring Azure - so beautiful!

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Acmon Blue

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Common Sootywing

Just yesterday in my own back yard I got another lifer bird…a Gray Vireo. I have heard him singing for the past couple weeks. But couldn’t get a photo until yesterday. I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to update my bird list so I’m not sure how many sightings I have to date. But it’s somewhere in the 320s.

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Gray Vireo

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Broad-tailed Hummingbird

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Juniper Titmouse

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Lesser Goldfinch

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Also during the last couple weeks I had to travel to Sapello, NM. While there I took about an hour to bird next to the Sapello River.  I heard lots of Chestnut-sided Warblers but they were on the other side of the river and couldn’t get a photo. But I did get a few nice photos while there.

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Lewis's Woodpecker

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Took this photo thinking of my friend Valerie. Who knows how much I love taking pictures of horses ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Canada Goose

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Indian Paintbrush

I also took the opportunity to drive through Stanley on the way to Sapello. Got a few nice sightings there including a lifer for me.  A gray flycatcher.

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Blue Grosbeak

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Blue Grosbeak female

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Loggerhead Shrike

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Interesting clouds...very low stormy clouds with puffy ones in the distance

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Gray Flycatcher

I’m finally getting more caught up with work. Scarlett is getting her third booster shot today. So soon I will be able to get her and I out more often.  Yay!

So many butterflies!

I have been so busy with work these last few weeks that it has been difficult to get out birding and looking for butterflies. But I did manage to get out for an hour here and there during the week.

I got several pretty butterflies this past week. I’m getting better at identifying them ๐Ÿ™‚

I got a several bird photos too but that will be another post.

I had to drive to Las Vegas, New Mexico, this past week for work. I hated to leave little Miss Scarlett in the crate all day so I took her with me. I was so nervous to take her away from home since she hasn’t had all Ber puppy shots yet. So I made her stay in the car 90% of the time.

She was pretty patient with me stopping and chasing down a butterfly or bird. At one point she barked at me as I was walking away. I got a great pic of her watching me from the car ๐Ÿ™‚

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Miss Scarlett

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Unknown butterfly - Bill Spring, Sandias

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Fatal metalmark - Bill Spring, Sandias

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Silver-spotted skipper - Bill Spring, Sandias

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Hoary Comma - my house in Tijeras

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Checkered White - Embudito Canyon, Sandias

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Meridian's Duskywing - Embudito Canyon, Sandias

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Canyonland Satyr - Embudito Canyon

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Reakirt's Blue - Sapello, New Mexico