As a follow up to my earlier report on the butterflies and diurnal moths of the Pikes Peak Region, I took the advice of Steve Taylor and prepared a graphic of all 255 dates on which I counted butterflies, and on which the time, temperature, and other conditions were favorable to flight. This shows the “noise” encountered in this sort of work, as well as the extraordinary summers of 2012-2014. If there is a trend, it might show up as a decline after 2015, when levels are about as they were early in the study. Note that most of the points from 2015 on fall below the mean score of 72.5/h. However, the overall slope is very slightly up (+0.032x). I can’t wait to continue observations this summer.
If I restrict the data to just the 145 dates that are from Bear Creek Canyon, there is a very slightly different trend, this time downward (–0.12x), from about 91 to 74 over the 35 years. Maybe this is the apocalypse! More later!
For those not tuned in to Southwest Geology, a sill is an igneous intrusive that has inserted itself parallel to the surrounding strata (a dike runs at angles to the strata). Palisade Sill is a huge intrusive in northern New Mexico between Raton and Taos on Highway 64. You won’t miss it when you head west into the canyon out of Cimarron. The sill is made of Monzonite, which is on the continuum between syenite (very light in color) and diorite (medium in color) and has plagioclase and orthoclase feldspars in approximately equal amounts. In short, it is a lighter than granite, but generally similar.
My favorite aspect of this imposing formation is that the joint systems are at nearly right angles, which leaves enormous faces and a ragged, blocky crest at the skyline. And, of course, lots of rubble along the stream below. Here are some images of the crestline.
We keep a patch of milkweed in the back yard, and several patches of excellent nectar sources for butterflies. My favorite colors are monarchs on Tithonia. Check these out.
And then, of course, the milkweeds. Here it seems necessary to quote part of the great Richard Wilbur poem, “Two Voices in a Meadow.”
Anonymous as cherubs
Over the crib of God,
White seeds are floating
Out of my burst pod.
What power had I
Before I learned to yield?
Shatter me, great wind:
I shall possess the field.
After 33 years of collecting moths in the Pikes Peak Region, I finally have begun to let it go to the C. P. Gillette Museum in Fort Collins at Colorado State University. The first installment, 36 drawers of mostly Noctuidae (the owlet moths) were shrink-wrapped and dispatched on August 29. One drawer is shown here.
And here is the first load.
And in their new home.
Many more to go in the next few weeks. Sad to see them go, but I know that they’re in a better place. (!)
A road trip across southwestern Colorado and northern New Mexico shows breathtaking beauty, but also astonishing devastation of the forests. Every magnificent scene–and there were many, from Creede to Taos–is countered with fire and blight. Three huge fire scars, running for miles and miles, and the almost complete loss of the conifer forests on Wolf Creek Pass are hard to look at. Long-term drought and dense forests make life tough. Even the aspen were compromised on the Tusas Mountains east of Tierra Amarilla. Here is the upper Rio Grande below South Fork, pure beauty:
And the Ute Park Fire scar:
And Wolf Creek Pass: miles and miles of this…
But also, Prairie dogs, butterflies, and ravens: