Spring Survey

In early- to mid-July I provided some logistical support to my son, Jon, as he did a survey of the geology of some of the springs in the Black Range.  We were typically on-site by 6:30 a.m. so it was a good time to catch Turkey Vultures, Cathartes aura, on their night-time roosts.  

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The two photos above were taken near Mud Spring on North Percha Road northwest of Hillsboro on July 6.  Other postings about this species include; TV’s are Back (March 9, 2013) and a video shot near Caballo Reservoir east of the Black Range. 

During the survey we visited several of the springs listed in the Black Range Springs section of the original Black Range website, including Bloodgood Spring east of Kingston, pictured below, on several occasions.  It was during this visit that we discovered other springs at this spring site (see Bloodgood Spring link above) and a Twin-spotted Spiny Lizard.

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At Bloodgood Spring we found several specimens of Gibbifer californicus, Blue Fungus Beetle, pictured below.  This species feeds on wood-rotting fungi as a larvae while adults extend their diet to include pollen and nectar.  The only other insect which I photographed at this location was a Buckeye, Junonia coenia.

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Among the plants at Bloodgood which caught my attention was the Narrowleaf Cottonwood that grows along the creek.  Between this website and and the original website we have photographs and information about the three cottonwood species in this area.  The areas where there are wet seeps and run-off from the springs generally have Broad-leaved Cattail, Typha latifolia, one of the two Typha species found in the Black Range (photo below).

At the Southwest Canyon Spring I found the spring in disuse but protected more wisely than in the past.  Near the spring I found the Black Witch, Ascalapha odorata, in the photo below.  It fluttered about a bit and then settled in an open space below the rootball of a tree on the slope west of the spring.  A previous post, Black Witch Moth, from August 4, 2015 describes some of the natural history of this species.  

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Moving across the crest of the range we searched for the right type of rock and I found what appears to be a Spotless Lady Beetle (aka Blood-Red Ladybird Beetle), Cycloneda sanguinea sanguinea, in Railroad Canyon. (photo below).

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Back on the east side of the Range we ventured into the Pickett Spring area north of Kingston.  The springs here were unfenced and a trampled muddy mess, in the current political environment the U.S. Forest Service appears unwilling to enforce even the most basic provisions of grazing permits.

On the positive side, the Juniperus deppeana, Alligator Juniper, in the area are doing well (photo below).  On the rocks nearby, lichen was flourishing (I will not even attempt the identification to species - photo below).

  

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I am not sure what is going on with this spider (below), photographed near Pickett Spring.  An egg sac?

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On July 9, we found one of the most common mammals of our area in the Lake Valley area where we found a spring we were searching for was on private land - or at least it was posted.  A family group (below) of Javelina (aka Collared Peccary),  Pecari tajacu, ran across the road and up the slope on the other side as we were fixated on the spring question.

On a later visit to North Percha Road (July 10) we found Red-tailed Hawk and the Arizona Sister, Adelpha eulalia, pictured below.

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Part of the hypothesis that my son had developed involved the fracturing of otherwise impervious rock (or at least of rock with very low porosity).  Along North Percha Road the rock below piqued his interest.

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In a short section of Middle Percha east of Kingston we found several species of interest, including two amphibians and a reptile in a 50’ section of stream.  The Canyon Treefrog, Hyla arenicolor, (photo below) was the first species that I saw.

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The New Mexico Spadefoot Toad, Spea multiplicata, is the state amphibian of New Mexico, the individual in the photo below is beside itself in excitement about that fact.  I found it just downstream from the Canyon Treefrog.

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In the stream pool with the Treefrog, there was a Blackneck Garter Snake, Thamnophis c. cyrtopsis.  This was the second time I have seen this species and the first time that I have been able to photograph it.


And lastly, for this post, I saw my first Mountain Patchnose Snake, Salvadora grahamiae, on the July 11 outing to Bloodgood Spring.  My son, Jon, spotted the snake, I dutifully lamented that it would be nice to have seen the head - it had slithered down a hole.  A bit of “shadow” modification resulted in the second photograph below…

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© Robert Barnes 2017