June 3, 2013


Butterfly numbers and variety are increasing in their slow way this season, but it still seems they’ve been decimated by that most bitter of cold spells last winter or by the drought of the last year, or both. A Checkerspot is here or there, or a Metalmark here or there–someday I’ll apply my mind to studying the tricky differences among the species but then by the time such leisure comes my way there’ll be no mind left to apply to anything much. Hairstreaks … Blues … Azures … Tailed-blues … doubtless I’m seeing a few of all of these, maybe a single specimen of a species in a whole springtime, or masses of one or two others teasing the eye like a box of ping-pong balls upended and bouncing crazily all over the place so that the eye can alight on no detail. They’re all silvery to blue, or blue to silvery, some with copper sheen, some with exquisite, complex tails so tiny they can hardly be seen. A species that in goodly numbers rises in eddies and swirls from the mud of The Stockpond’s edge is finely striped below (but no tails), and has a pair of round eyes on the edge of each hindwing. One is being tame enough that it doesn’t take flight and allows a very close approach … isn’t that nice of it? As I enjoy this rare chance to see these beautiful markings, it sinks in on me that something is sunk in on the butterfly: stabbed into its tiny abdomen are the fangs of a black spider who apparently hangs out here where the buffet will come to it.

A “small” Mexican Tarantula Hawk, bright cobalt, shining, as gloriously beautiful as it is baleful, zooms past us over the water, the first blue Pepsis of the summer. Tarantulas do come to these banks, but this wasp was probably looking more for a drink than for a spider buffet it could leave for its offspring. So many insect and arachnid chisels and straws and harpoons! The first mosquito of the year shoves hers into my earlobe.

From all the branches along The Lane, from the lone and handsome large mesquite in #1 Pasture, from the bosque, from the River bank, from the mesquites growing scattered in the old alley running down to The River, come to my ears nestlings cheeping and peeping, some softly, some wildly and demandingly, and the frantic coming and going of tireless parent birds catches my eye. Flycatchers and warblers, kingbirds–the close approach of an ever-hopeful raven doesn’t amuse the kingbirds, and I more than once see a huge black silhouette flying off grouchily with Daddy Kingbird in hot “basta ya!” pursuit, trying to bean ol’ Raven on the head with a sharp bill … who is to decide which most deserves to be nourished, which will be nourishment? […]