One or two individuals of a broad array of birds decorate The Stockpond, all nicely plumaged: Wilson’s Warbler; Black-headed Grosbeak; Bell’s Vireo; Brown-headed Cowbird; McGillivray’s Warbler; Vermillion Flycatcher; young Western Kingbird; Blue Grosbeak; a female Lazuli Bunting (though plain, still pretty with that blue tail of hers); and Gray Flycatcher–the first returning individual that I’ve seen, pumping its tail down in that distinctive way of theirs that is a godsend of a diagnostic “mark” for this species in a crazy-making genus. The more-greenish-than-grayish little flycatcher jumps off a branch time and again, drops and splashes in miniature belly flops into the pond, and is up then on the wing quickly enough to avoid sinking.
Blue Grosbeaks out in the pastures, who seem still to be unaware their endless Summer will indeed have an end, cavort on the wheel lines, bathe at the tops of the wheels in water that stays collected in the grooves with the constant passing around of the arcs of spray. The shining, sapphire birds stand and let themselves be hit by the waterdrops thrown over them, shake themselves off, then slide down the incline of the wheel to land in another puddle when they want even more fun!
Atop one of the plastic (insulated) electric line posts a large Apache Jumping Spider hangs out, waiting for some bug to land haplessly. It jumps inside the hollows of the post where the wires pass through when I come close for a better look at this most beautiful of Southwestern spiders, and then it comes back out and stares at me through all those eyes as if trying to remember where it knows me from. It is all black velvet and red velvet, most elegantly patterned.
Harvester Ants are cranky after the irrigation leaves their big, bare circle drenched, they swarm all over the place and I know they’d find me trying if I came any closer, but there is a very large, pale brown Swallowtail butterfly who keeps flitting around them. It’s a female Pipevine Swallowtail, the only one I’ve seen this year–and usually males are everywhere through Summer but they were scarce this year. She has cream spots striped between with blue on her underwings, and flashes amythyst on her upper surfaces–a very different color than that indescribably tropical blue of the males. She lands all over that circle, throws out a proboscis to the mud but is only relaxed for a second or two before she has to hot-foot it as ants try to latch on to her tiny feet. She seems to know just how much she can get away with before she’s got to take wing and try another spot.