Some friends visited for a few days last week and, as they enjoy hiking and the outdoors, Melissa and I did our best to show them the best Albuquerque has to offer. We made it out to the Piedras Marcadas area of Petroglyph National Monument early in the visit where we found the desert in bloom. I never made it out to the West mesa last spring, so this may be normal, but it seems like it hasn’t been quite as dry. The greater abundance of butterflies and moths this spring compared to last must be due to something.
Flowers in the desert!
One of the most common flowers a bit farther along the trail was Freckled milkvetch, a kind of purple legume with large, speckled, green pods. Some kind of duskywing skipper was flying around near these plants and once it landed, I got a great view of a Funereal Duskywing, a new butterfly for me. Desert vetches are typical host plants for this species.
Freckled milkvetch (Astragalus lentiginosus), a legume and host plant for Funereal Dukywing. Thanks to Mom for the identification!
Freckled milkvetch pods
Fence lizards (or Prairie/Plateau lizards) were out and about on many of the basalt boulders, but one last lizard we found was a horned lizard trying to hind under and in a small bush. Based on the patterns of horns on the head, location, and elevation, this is a Round-tailed Horned Lizard (pdf guide to US horned lizard species). (When another friend visited last September, we found a Greater Short-horned Lizard at the top of the Sandias.)
Round-tailed Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma modestum). Pretty cute for a reptile.
Just a few more photos of flowers.
Purple scorpion weed (Phacelia strictiflora)
Gordon’s Bladderpod (Lesquerella gordonii)
Canaigre dock (Rumex hymenosepalus) also known as Desert rhubarb
My goal this year is to start paying more attention to damselflies and dragonflies. Without a net and a good camera, identifying them in the field is turning out to be a little difficult. Several Common green darners were flying along some of the washes, very far from water. No photos of dragonflies, but the Ancestral Pueblo People left a few dragonfly petroglyphs on the boulders.
A sage plant with exposed roots