May 15, 2013

Dragonflies are reappearing this year in rather slow fashion, not very many of any one species are there over the water of The Stockpond. Too many ducks eating the larvae? Not as much underwater tangles of roots and stems of rushes and cattails as formerly, for the aquatic stages to hide in and hunt from? (The cows have developed quite a taste for the green parts of those plants.) One of the most beautiful of our dragonflies on the San Pedro, a “Desert White Tail” put in its first appearance today. It’s colored in dark red-browns and white, in pattern looks like a saddle shoe from a 1950s Catholic girls’ school.

As with the dragonflies, the butterflies this year are also coming back into sight slowly, sometimes a single even common species only being seen once or twice and then not for a long time after that. A single Buckeye was low over the pastures, but I don’t know which of the two Arizona species it was because I failed to look at it closely enough and I wasn’t aware that a tropical species reaches north to the state. A large and already much-tattered and color-smudged Black Swallowtail also came past–it looked like it may have had a hard time of it with so many kingbirds around. Field Bindweed has suddenly become the most abundant flower for butterflies to visit, in the grass there are many of these in bloom, and they have the nostalgic look of appleblossoms drifted down from orchard branches. This Convolvulus is another adventitious plant that cows at least in the Southwest make great use of, and many ranchers welcome its presence so long as the vines are grazed back enough to keep the (reputedly) poisonous seeds from developing in numbers, or getting into cropped hay … […]

As have so many other migratory bird species this year (perhaps every year?), Purple Martins arrive at Mason’s a week after being seen first to the north, in the Pool Wash area. They remain far overhead, but their high-pitched, tight guitar-string twangs are unmistakable, and hearing them makes me smile.