40 hour Arizona Rush - Part 2

Mark Walker MWalker at gensym.com
Tue Mar 12 03:56:03 EST 2002

Molino Basin Bonanza - 3/5/02
It's already been a week ago, but the memories are still vivid.  An early
morning breakfast at Coco's with Bill Mooney, a cross town drive through
Tucson to meet with Jim Brock, and a 10:00 a.m. arrival at the two mile
marker along the Catalina Highway with temperatures already surpassing 70
degrees F made for a perfect start to a perfect day.  Acting like quite the
guest, I followed the two seasoned professionals through the cactus habitat
along the ridge to where we were hoping to spot more Pima Orangetips
meandering their way to the hilltop.  Jim was wearing shorts - my preferred
butterfly attire, but I had decided to be smart for a change and wear long
pants.  I decided I could trust where Jim was putting his feet, as his were
the most exposed to the hostile flora, but I soon found that Jim just pushes
onward regardless of what jagged stalks might come his way.  I was quite
impressed, however, with the ease with which he maneuvered through the
cactus, missing wicked bows of cholla at the last minute by merely a slight
twist of the ankle.  Desert people are an agile people, in spite of the
abundance of scales and leathery skin.
Once atop the little ridge, all was quiet.  Even the birds were silent.  We
waited.  An hour would go by before we spotted our first butterfly - an
immaculate Hyantis Marble (Euchloe hyantis lotta).  A bit later, Bill would
spot the first Pima.  Bill had been to the location a week earlier, and
reported seeing good numbers of Pima's on that occasion.  It was still
early, so we decided to give them some time.  The two gentlemen were
gracious enough to give me the chance to net the gorgeous yellow butterflies
as they were spotted.  I was gracious enough to swing like an uncoordinated
imbecile - for their utmost pleasure and entertainment, of course.  I never
like to show up anyone acting as host.  How convenient, though, that they
were uninterested in netting anything.  It was a one man circus - er, show.
By 11:00 a.m. we were seeing about 4 Pima's/minute.    Of course, I was
pleased to "let" two out of three go on their merry way (I explained that
what appeared as unproductive swings were merely forms of exercise).  Jim
finally did take an interest in examining a female, and actually disappeared
after one in a rush and flailing of arms.  To my great pleasure, I would see
him do that at least two more times this day.
The dialogue was superb.  Though interrupted occasionally as another
gorgeous Anthocharis wandered along to give me an opportunity to exercise my
joints, we finally decided to take the conversation across the highway to
one of the south facing canyons that drains from the higher elevations.
Here we found a number of species patrolling the canyon, including
Asterocampa leilia (Empress Leilia), Plebejus (Icaricia) acmon (Acmon Blue),
Phyciodes texana (Texas Crescentspot), Anthocharis sara (Sara Orangetip),
Dymasia dymas (Dymas Checkerspot), and Systasea zampa (Zampa Skipper), to
name a few.  

More information about the Leps-l mailing list