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Year of the Butterflies

Monday, June 29th, 2020: Animals, Hikes, Holt, Mogollon Mountains, Nature, Southwest New Mexico.

It’s been going on since early springtime, and I can’t keep quiet about it anymore.

There are more butterflies this year than ever before! I have no idea why. Are their predators in trouble? I don’t even know who their predators are.

First the small ones, yellow and white, along the wilderness trails. Then the bigger ones, in my yard at home. By now they’re darting and sailing back and forth all the time – I often mistake them for birds.


I returned to my favorite local trail, the one with over 4,000′ of elevation gain that takes me to a peak with a view of the interior of the mountains. It’s more of a struggle each time, because more trees have fallen or been blown down across the trail.


Hectic time of year for birds, too! Turkey vultures and hawks circle overhead as mother quail shepherd their tiny young across the road. As I traverse stark burned slopes on the peak, the boomerang shapes of white-throated swifts rocket past my shoulder. And in the forest from canyon bottom to ridgetop, constant calls and song from a diverse community. Birds are less timid, often allowing me to walk right past them.


In the lead-up to our monsoon, as the heat rises, the air dries out, and the creek dwindles, the first wave of flowers reaches its peak.


On the way up the mountain, I just enjoyed the butterflies. But on the way back, in the canyon bottom, I suddenly reached a large clump of Monarda where butterflies were converging from all directions, and I stopped in their midst to photograph them as they ignored me and went about their business.

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