Texas/Arizona Week 18

This week was largely devoted to west Texas - the Guadalupe, Davis, and Chisos mountains (Big Bend NP).  

Foremost was a long hike in the Guadalupes - for many years I’ve wanted to set foot in these mountains.  So I put butterflies to the back of my mind and hiked hard for several miles into a scenic canyon.  Of course, at trail’s end a seasonally early Canyonland Satyr crossed my path!  

Spring was late coming to the Davis Mountains (locals informed me of recent overnight freezes) but Big Bend in the Chisos was dazzling in its wildflower displays and butterfly activity.  Not thirty minutes out of the car, I had one of my targets - several Poling’s hairstreaks gamboling about in the tops of small oaks.  

The second day in the Chisos was to prove quite special.  The night before, I had met SF Bay area naturalist, artist, and friend Liam O’Brien at the Chisos Mountain lodge, and he introduced me to several of his companions conducting Colima Warbler surveys.  Among them was Greg Lasley, longtime Texas bird expert and photographer; Greg offered to drive me to the Pine Canyon Trail the next day (one hour’s drive, part rough road, and 4-mile hike), where they had photographed some outstanding butterflies.  Joined by Mary Gustafson of Mission, TX, we added two of the three “Chisos” butterfly specialties: Chisos Banded-skipper and Chisos metalmark, missing only the Chisos skipperling seen the day before; also the second Sandia hairstreak of my big year, and my first good looks at Meridian duskywing.

Driving back roads from Big Bend to Arizona added no new species, but on the following day Mary Klinkel of Tucson joined me for a half day in the Catalina Mountains.  Mary took me to a known location for Cestus skipper, which we found and photographed, thus allowing me to correct a mis-identified Cestus on my list from the previous month.  Following Mary’s directions, that afternoon I crossed the valley to butterfly-rich Box Canyon in the Santa Ritas for Violet-clouded and Arizona skippers.  Thanks again, Mary!

New Species:  Poling's Hairstreak Satyrium polingi, Leda Ministreak Ministrymon leda, Palmer's Metalmark Apodemia palmerii, Chisos Metalmark Apodemia chisosensis, Variegated Fritillary Euptoieta claudia, Theona Checkerspot Chlosyne theona, Hackberry Emperor Asterocampa celtis, Canyonland Satyr Cyllopsis pertepida, Red Satyr Megisto rubricata, Arizona Skipper Codatractus arizonensis, Chisos Banded-Skipper Autochton cincta, Meridian Duskywing Erynnis meridianus, Oslar's Roadside-Skipper Amblyscirtes oslari, Texas Roadside-Skipper Amblyscirtes texanae, Slaty Roadside-Skipper Amblyscirtes nereus, Violet-clouded Skipper Lerodea arabus

New Species:  16     Total trip species:  236    Species Photographed:  229


Golden Banded-skipper, Big Bend National Park, Texas


Chisos Banded-skipper, Big Bend National Park, Texas


Two-tailed Tiger Swallowtail, Molino Basin, Tucson, Arizona

© Chris Tenney 2014