Saturday, March 17, 2012

Old Friends, of the anima variety.

The new species which I encounter during my travels are, of course, very exciting. But I get a kick out of seeing species I am familiar with from other locations in new settings. So here are two species which are “old friends” that I have found in Peru recently:

Monarch, Argentina (the damn things won't sit still here)

Everyone knows the Monarch’s spectacular migration and wintering by the millions in Mexico and thousands in California. Less well-known (to us northern hemisphereans) a population exists across a broad swath of South America (and Australia!). From Colombia down almost to Patagonia in Argentina and Chile, little is known of this population, but it is downright common in places. 

Monarch egg, Pacora, Peru
Asclepias cursavica, Pacora, Peru
Here the milkweed species is different from all are home… the flowers are different colors and in less of a ball, and overall more dainty and small. But it is similarly devoured by the larvae of both Monarch and Queen butterflies (which occurs in the south of the US, but not up by us). Monarchs are probably the most common large butterfly here save Phoebis sennae, another old friend (though not common in the northeast).

I am 90% sure this is Phoebis sennae, the cloudless sulphur.

The other old friend around here is a fascinating one that I have encountered in many places… but could encounter in many more! Pantala flavescens, the so-called Wandering Glider, is a very common libellulid dragonfly the world over. It is said that every island world-over with fresh w├íter has this species and I have read reports of swarms passing over boats hundreds of miles offshore! Here they are absolutely everywhere – often there are hundreds in view at a time. The development of the species is very rapid, just a couple months… not the year required by most dragonflies or the 5+ years required by Phenes raptor and other petallurid dragonflies. I have seen them ovipositing here in rice paddies, in small streams, large rivers and swimming pools…

Pantala flavescens, Bosque de Pomac, Peru

And to disabuse the notion that all I think of is insects… some birds, too! Many species here are widely distributed, either in South America (Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Comb Duck) or in the Americas in general. I am just as likely to see American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Turkey and Black Vulture, Lesser Yellowlegs or Spotted Sandpiper (migrants), Killdeer (resident) and House Wren here as in MA/RI. 
Turkey Vulture, Bosque de Pomac

Peregrine Falcon, juvenile?, a different subspecies than at home. Also it has been trying to catch my swallows...
Other species are quite different – such as this little tiny (<1”) mantis - it wouldn't be interesting if too much were the same...

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