Journal archives for September 2020

September 04, 2020

Winsor Creek hike

On 8/11/20 hiked Winsor Creek, Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico, to ridge overlooking stream valley. Basically my idea of a perfect trip- the valley a paradise with a huge number of insects, snakes, and plants.
In the valley, found many flowers, wasps, butterflies (Speyeria, Polygonia, Cupido, Lycaena, Echo Azure, Mylitta Crescent, yellows, and more unknown), flies, a Gnophaela moth, two Shamrock Orbweavers, and more. One particular patch of the insect-attracting Cutleaf Coneflowers was very fruitful; swarming with butterflies, and I narrowly missed catching a Wandering Garter Snake.
The first of the Shamrock Orbweavers was orange. Very happy to find it.
Turned off from the stream and began to gain elevation. En route, found many more plants, a trashline orbweaver (first I’ve seen in NM), Laphria, and grasshoppers. Passed through a recently burned area.
Rested on top and took in the view. Found a beautiful giant lady beetle (Anatis).
Headed back down. More plants. Back in the streambed, found a Wandering Garter that was swimming in the stream. Took lots of photos. Released it and it went into the creek, swam downstream, and then crawled out on the bank.
Proceeded on and found several White-lined Sphinx moths, then a big fat Wandering Garter Snake; a bulge in its stomach- must have recently eaten. Going off the trail, closer to the stream, found another Shamrock Orbweaver- this one yellow- in thick brush. They have small webs for such a large spider.
Saw two grouse that quickly flew away.
Going on, discovered a Wandering Garter Snake in the process of eating some kind of rodent, still protruding from the snake’s mouth. Fascinating.
More plants (and fungi) continually, along with two more Wandering Garters that escaped before I could get a picture- making for a surprisingly good total of six in all.
Saw a family of Dusky Grouse. Nearly six o’clock by now.
A successful trip, though I didn’t find the elusive Smooth Greensnake I was looking for- rare in Sangre de Cristos.
Started hiking around noon, which seems to be the golden hour for butterflies. Upon getting back down to the stream at 3:30-4 PM, there were none. Snakes were active in August’s warm weather as long as I was out there, though I found the most between perhaps 4 and 5.

Posted on September 04, 2020 19:43 by ectothermist ectothermist | 68 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

September 06, 2020

Lake Johnson hike

On 8/13/20 hiked to Lake Johnson, Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico. Started a bit after 9 AM. En route to trailhead at Panchuela Campground, saw a Mule Deer buck and a group of turkeys- only ones from the trip.
A little up Cave Creek, flipped a rock and found a young Wandering Garter Snake. It promptly musked on me. Walking down to the creek to wash off, snake in hand, I immediately found another Wandering Garter, this one quite large. As I was juggling the two in an attempt to take pictures, the smaller one bit me twice- the second time, it sank one fang into my left index finger, mercilessly deeper and deeper. Felt just like a hypodermic needle.
Continuing on, found a few beautiful Speyeria.
Arrived at the caves and briefly explored them. They went back quite far, passages going in and out of each other until they ended in several narrow, dark notches that the creek poured into.
Slogged on, finding Cupido, Speyeria, Polygonia, and many plants, until a stop at a junction to refill bottles with treated stream water. Went on for hours more, with the forest environment slowly but continually changing in plant and animal life as the altitude increased. Found a probable Linyphiid spider.
After 7 or so miles that never seemed to end, arrived at Lake Johnson. It was lower in elevation than I had thought. Almost immediately began walking around the perimeter. Found interesting plants and a pair, at least, of large blue Darners. Perhaps more flying around, unless they were the same pair. About 3:00 by now. I lay down on my stomach to photograph the dragonflies. One was perched on a log, arched between head and abdomen. The other would periodically swarm it, buzzing and harrying the perched dragonfly. Eventually they ended up with the flying dragonfly on its back, its mouthparts tourching the perched one’s upside-down, its tail touching the other at the anterior portion of its thorax. Were they male and female? And what were they doing?
Went on to a beautiful meadow at the west end of the lake. Found some blue flowers I thought especially pretty, that I believe I saw only there. These proved to be Gentians.
Found small grasshoppers and an orange butterfly by the lake, even at this high elevation (11,100’). The butterfly got away.
Packing up, saw a few Gray (Canada) Jays.
Considered climbing “Capulin”/Redondo Peak, but unfortunately got to the lake too late.
Came back in the dark. A strenuous but successful hike. 14 miles round-trip.

Posted on September 06, 2020 17:35 by ectothermist ectothermist | 40 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment