The Vast State of Texas

I can't remember who said it, but when Greg Lasley and I mentioned to someone that we'd only met through iNaturalist, their response was something like, "That could really have...gone wrong." Strange. I didn't even think of that.
I think it "went right" from the minute he picked me up at the Austin Airport. A retired Lieutenant with the Austin Police Department, Greg is an iNat Superstar with his broad range of birds, butter and dragon fly knowledge. His photographic skills are...sheer art. Our comments and encouragement towards others and each other here over the last year made a trip out there a no-brainer. ( I remember when Scuba diving was the focus of my life and when I'd meet other divers from other parts of the world, there was already an intimacy and language set. Seems to be true of iNaters as well...) He was planning trip with some of his Naturalist friends to the southern tip of the state and a visit to the National Butterfly Garden in Mission, TX. I'd never been there. Came home from Puerto Vallarta one night and flew to Austin next morning.
Cool, overcast weather didn't deter me. I jumped out of the car and immediately became inthralled with the weird lichens on his oak trees in the yard. Greg laughed and said it was a group he hadn't taken on yet. Meet his fantastic, brilliant wife Cheryl ( a Texan judge ) and the other two occupants of the house - Jericho and Joshua, the cats. Jericho followed me around like a dog
I was excited to visit the Hornsby Bend the next day - a place Greg iNats a lot from. We met up with another iNater Eric Isley - another iNater and just walking in the shadow of these two friends and listening to their banter about nature. Makes me smile. Had about 15 lifers that day. Saw my first Texan Crescent butterfly.
The trip south was packed with amazing, new ecosystems for me. Bad, cloudy weather for the beginning but a sunny few days forecasted ahead gave us hope. His friends were encyclopedic in there knowledge: John and Kendra Abbott. John is the author of "Damselflies of Texas" and he and Kendra are photographing insects for the new Petersen's Guide update. ( Excited I found a Unicorn Mantid for them one day), Jim and Lynne Weber - birders-gone-butterfliers and Roland Wauer, who went by Ro, an elderly man and quite the legend in Texas. He'd worked in many National Parks in the US and autographed two of his books for me: "Butterflies of the Lower Rio Grande Valley" and "Finding Butterflies in Texas". The cherry atop this esteemed ensemble: Jim Brock, co-author of "The Kaufman Guide" - the Bible every lepidopterist I know on the West Coast carries - an honor to have him autograph my well-worn copy. Many days of rapier wit, spirited banter and explosive joy when a new thing was observed. With this group most bug and bird taxon was covered. Brock would just call out " Hey Lifer" to call me over. Beer at the end of a day never tasted better.
The pictures that accompany this journal entry say it all. Somewhat overwhelming to process even now. The NABA park was great - a place I never thought I'd want to go to because I swing a net, but my desires have changed towards how I connect to leps. Disagree with collecting-has-no-place-anymore but complied with Glassberg's park rules. Really a cool place he has created there.
It all comes back to Greg. He is at that magnificent place with his relationship to Nature that what he shares with others seems to have superseded what he gets from it. I deeply identified with his wanting to break out of the "Bird Expert" box he is known for and approached about. "I did that already", he'd say. My Odonate skills ratcheted up a few notches after a week with this man. A great teacher. A kind man.
We had a day with iNater gyrfalcon ( Jennifer Rycenga) that I will never forget, driving along the beach at Boca Chica. I think I wandered across the Mexican Border because when I posted a Black Mangrove, I was in the US and a Great Southern White butterfly caught my eye and I walked only a few feet away and the coordinated read Mexico. Whoops. Another favorite memory: Greg really putting up with my "Roadkill Series"- a tongue-and-check homage to the "Poor Little Critters on the Road" ( a cool song by the Knitters) "We gotta find you your first Armadillo. There's a joke in this state that they are born dead along the Highway." 9 species I iNated.
79 new butterflies, 18 new odes, 35 new birds, 7 new mammals, 2 new frogs even!
Ten days. Ten days with a stranger I met on iNat. Can't wait to see him and his state again. And Jericho the cat.

Posted by robberfly robberfly, November 15, 2014 20:39

Observations

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Common Raccoon Procyon lotor

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 4, 2014 12:09 PM CST

Description

The Yellow Rose...of Roadkill.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 4, 2014

Description

Last time I saw this I was diving off Maui a few decades back. Greg pointed out it's native here in Texas.

Photos / Sounds

What

Soldier Danaus eresimus

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 7, 2014 11:34 AM CST

Description

Lifer

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Green Jay Cyanocorax yncas

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 7, 2014

Description

Hands down one of the coolest chapters in my "birding" career. A Masters Class with the Master - Greg Lasley. One incredible lifer flying in after another

Photos / Sounds

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What

Altamira Oriole Icterus gularis

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 7, 2014

Description

We heard them behind us first then...this novice kept saying, "Oh My God!" ( that would be me...)

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Golden-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes aurifrons

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 7, 2014

Photos / Sounds

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 7, 2014 11:36 AM CST

Description

Keyed by entomologist Dr. John Abbott

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Ailanthus Webworm Moth Atteva aurea

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 7, 2014 11:56 AM CST

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Guava Skipper Phocides lilea

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 8, 2014 01:01 PM CST

Description

Lifer

Photos / Sounds

What

Silver-banded Hairstreak Chlorostrymon simaethis

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 2014

Place

Texas, US (Google, OSM)

Description

Lifer

Photos / Sounds

What

Red-bordered Pixie Melanis pixe

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 8, 2014 09:17 AM CST

Description

Wow

Photos / Sounds

What

Crimson Patch Chlosyne janais

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 8, 2014 02:59 PM CST

Description

Lifer

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Harris's Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 8, 2014

Description

On the telephone pole outside the center today. Handsome bird.

Photos / Sounds

What

Texas Unicorn Mantis Pseudovates chlorophaea

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 8, 2014

Description

I'd seen a video of this creature that holds it's arms in the air for dragonflies and hummingbirds to land on then Snares Them. One of the finds for the day. Note the bit chin' unicorn horn!

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Blue Metalmark Lasaia sula

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 9, 2014 10:54 AM CST

Description

The Blue Metalmark. Male.

Photos / Sounds

What

Orange-barred Sulphur Phoebis philea

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 9, 2014 11:00 AM CST

Description

In amongst all of these Phoebis sennae two monsters cruised in with forewings yellow and hing wings orange...like lazy Paper Dolls thrown off a roof. Stunning.

Photos / Sounds

What

Pale-rayed Skipper Vidius perigenes

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 9, 2014

Description

An incredibly isolated population of this sublimely beautiful skipper. Occurs only in the southern tip of Texas. Crazy exciting to see the "Pale-rayed Skipper" ( even having to pull cactus spins out of my legs...) Now, pray I don't bring home Chiggars!!!!!

Photos / Sounds

What

Thornbush Dasher Micrathyria hagenii

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 10, 2014 12:32 PM CST

Description

Male.

Photos / Sounds

What

Crested Caracara Caracara cheriway

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 10, 2014

Description

Can't get enough of this creature over the last few days...

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Nine-banded Armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 11, 2014 11:01 AM CST

Description

Roadkill Series #5 titled " Deep in the Heart...a Tire Tread"

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Franklin's Gull Leucophaeus pipixcan

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 10, 2014

Description

I wanted to post this shot because it captured the challenge for this novice ( luckily with great teachers in my ear) Franklins Gull surrounded by Sandwich, Forrester's and Royal Terns.

Photos / Sounds

What

Wheel Bug Arilus cristatus

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 12, 2014 11:31 AM CST

Description

Cool to see this species again...

Photos / Sounds

What

Blue-faced Meadowhawk Sympetrum ambiguum

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 12, 2014

Description

Easily Species-of-the-Day. Greg and Eric had photographed it here prior. Wasn't looking good till things warmed up. Eric found it.
Wow. This is the male. Lifer.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Texan Crescent Anthanassa texana

Observer

robberfly

Date

November 12, 2014

Comments

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Glad you had a good time, Liam! We'll do it again. No, you were not in Mexico, even though the iNat program thinks you are when standing on the bank of the Rio Grande at that spot. Good you were here when you were as it really turned cold after you left.
Greg

Posted by greglasley over 6 years ago (Flag)
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cough you saw some cool Texas plants too!! cough
;)

Really enjoyed looking through your tx observations. :)

Posted by sambiology over 6 years ago (Flag)
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p.s. A huge part of this adventure was the go-to man known as "sambiology" here at iNat. Because of Butterfly host plants and painting Trail Signs...ummmm...Have I said I like plants enough? I'm officially a Naturalist!

Posted by robberfly over 6 years ago (Flag)
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Haha! The pleasure was mine to guide some of the plant ID's -- I can't wait to jump over to CA to see some of that unique flora!!!! :)

Posted by sambiology over 6 years ago (Flag)
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Thanks for sharing this wonderful trip with all of iNat community; too bad I was not able to go up there or you to come down here, some day we will meet.

Saludos!

Posted by aztekium_tutor over 6 years ago (Flag)

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