Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

An Update From The Lone Star State

Well, it’s been fun so far! I’ve traveled 1500 miles so I can dig in the dirt here in Texas — it’s amazing what a NYCer will do to re-experience her country-living childhood, huh? The dirt here is very rich with clay and so, when it dries out and the sun shines on it, it becomes as hard as a rock. So I ended up beating the clay to death with a hoe.

I also saw a crested caracara (a new life list bird for me), numerous turkey vultures, some black vultures that seem to enjoy city living, marsh hawks (northern harriers), cooper’s and sharp-shinned harks, and red-tailed hawks. I also saw lots of eastern phoebes and eastern meadowlarks (both life list birds for me). And butterflies .. ! I saw numerous gulf and checkered fritillaries, checkered and clouded skippers, several monarchs and approximately one dozen swallowtails, two long-tailed skippers, at least one fiery skipper, and two julia butterflies. I also saw one white-tipped black geometrid and another butterfly that was small and seemed dull creamy white until the sun hit it and, thanks to iridescence, turned it a delicate shade of violet.

I will write up an official list after I have a little time to go through my notes (and a butterfly guide to remind me of everything I saw).


  1. #1 Don Thieme
    October 28, 2007

    I have heard that Texas is surprisingly diverse in terms of both birds and wildflowers. I did not know about the butterflies, although that also makes sense. I could at least tell which of the names that you mentioned were which, but I hope that pictures of some of these will come later.

  2. #2 biosparite
    October 29, 2007

    Texas leads all other states in butterfly species numbers with its array of environments. Some of us Houston NABA members made a mid-January trip to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in 2005 and saw around 80 species of butterflies over the course of a Friday even in early winter (the following Saturday turned cold, so the butterfliers switched to birder mode). There are butterflies winging around the Houston area in great numbers at present.

  3. #3 Heidi
    October 29, 2007

    Aww, if I’d started reading your blog sooner, I would have had time to drool and ponder your potential species. I grew up in Houston and now live in Abilene – hoping to make it to south Tx pretty soon, before the last of the butterflies and peak of birding vanish with my crazy schedule. Congrats on the Caracara, they’re freakin’ awesome =D

New comments have been disabled.