Red-spotted Purple

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) is one of the more "cooperative" butterflies when it comes to getting close for a good look or a photo. With some things, using a flash up close washes out the color. With this, it helped bring out the blue iridescence. This species makes a harmless and tasty meal for any bird brave enough to eat one, but many get passed up because they resemble the toxic Pipevine Swallowtail.


Red in black, venom lack; red in yellow, kill a fellow...

This past weekend while visiting Brendan and Billi, we saw a snake that we've been looking forward to seeing for years. We found this Coral Snake (Micrurus tener) under a large sheet of bark on an old pine snag near Nacogdoches, TX. Although the neurotoxic venom from this species can be lethal to an adult human, Coral Snakes tend not to be very aggressive, and we were extremely careful while handling this one.


Golden-cheeked Warblers!

Yesterday, I got to see my first two Golden-cheeked Warblers (Dendroica chrysoparia). Today, a few of us got to catch them. I felt pretty nervous taking an endangered bird out of a net, but I think I'll get more used to it as I go.


Rio Grande Valley Trip

Sarah and I went with our friend Billi on a short but exciting trip to the southernmost part of Texas. We focused on birds, but enjoyed a lot more. We identified about 130 species of birds on the 2.5 day trip, and 33 of them were lifers for me.

A bird that I'd been looking forward to seeing since the first time I saw it in a fieldguide, the Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas) was every bit as beautiful as I expected.

This happened to be the nearest of a few American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) that we were fortunate enough to see at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, where we also got to see the endangered Whooping Cranes (Grus americana) on their wintering grounds.

These Texas leaf cutting ants (Atta texanus) were an unexpected treat at our first campsite, on the Rio Grande in Salineno, TX.

I thought it fitting to have our first sighting of the Rio Grande Leopard Frog (Rana berlandieri) on the Rio Grande (their range extends over 300 miles from the Rio Grande).

Definitely one of my favorites from this trip, this Texas Tortoise (Gopherus berlandieri) was right out in the open, munching on grass at Bentsen Rio Grande State Park.


Fort Hood so far

My job on Fort Hood has begun, and although I've not yet seen a Golden-cheeked Warbler, there has been some neat stuff to keep my attention.

I was pleased to get this 'Olive' Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus) and a Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus) in the same shot on this Elbow bush (Forestiera pubescens).

Though not rare, these Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) were fun to see up close.

This flower may be some type of phlox, but I'm not sure. Either way, I think it's pretty.

This Black-crested Titmouse (Baeolophus atricristatus) was a recent lifer for me, so it was fun to get to hold one. They're very spirited.

This Striped Bark Scorpion (Centruroides vittatus) was my first wild scorpion. Good reminder that I'm in Texas.

Does this remind anyone of Lord of the Rings?