Saturday, December 14—Butterflies, Again

With a decent, but windy, forecast, Van and I started out on a short (20 miles or so) bike ride, but after 5 miles, my stamina hadn’t returned, and I wimped out.  About the same time, it started misting, and in combination with the wind, brought back memories of Wednesday’s long ride, the latter part in the rain, cold, and mud.  We rode back to the RV resort, another 5+ miles.  Here are the ride statistics:
Ride Time: 53:33
Stopped Time: 4:53
Distance: 10.18 miles
Average: 11.41 mph
Fastest Speed: 17.84 mph
Ascent: 102 feet
Descent: 98 feet
Calories: 712
Frankly, I was beat.  And then, to add insult to injury, the sun came out and the wind slowed considerably.

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After a late lunch, with the sun shining but the wind picking up speed, Lorna (our next door neighbor and a heck of a great birder and butterfly expert) and I drove to the National Butterfly Center to see if the butterflies had survived the cool, wet weather the last couple of weeks.  There were no birds present at the bird feeding station, and the butterflies, especially the large, showy ones, were far and few between in the usual places we see them.  However, in some small, isolated beds, tiny butterflies were zipping here and there, aided by strong winds.  I had switched lenses on the Canon 5d Mark III, putting on an “old” lens to see if “hand-held” photo shots would be sharper than with the Canon T3i, and this would provide a good opportunity to try the new combination.  While I don’t know all the names yet (Lorna has agreed to help in identification), here are a few of the pretty little creatures.  And, to top it off, we saw a beautiful Monarch Butterfly, my 4th for the year.  These once thriving butterflies have had a very difficult year, and their future does not look too bright—a real shame.  As we wrapped up butterfly watching, we walked to the bird feeding station, but with no birds in sight.  After about 5 minutes, Lorna spotted a juvenile Harris’s Hawk perched on a low limb within a few feet of the bird feeding area.  We both took photos, and after several more minutes, the juvenile Harris’s Hawk flew away.  And then, sparrows began coming out of the woodwork, literally.  They had hidden in the brush pile near the feeding station.  Jerry and Karen Smith had told me about this, but it was hard to believe until I actually saw it today!  We saw several Inca Doves, Green Jays, a Clay Colored Thrush, Ladderback and Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, and sparrows.  After several days of inclement weather, it was good returning the the NBC, and especially seeing all the tiny butterflies; the hawk was icing on the cake.  Happy hour at the palapa was well attended, and continued until after 6 PM.  Jenny surprised me with a Facetime call, and I got to visit with her, Harper, and Brian for a good portion of the evening.  This modern technology provides great venues for staying in touch.

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