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This September was an up and down month, with some early coolness after 90 degree weather.  Our vultures (Turkey Vultures, Cathartes aura) are still with us, as are the Rufous Hummingbirds, Selasphorus rufus, though by now only females.  I gave a talk on spiders earlier in the month which was unfortunately scheduled for the same day as the Diez y Seis de Septiembre fiesta in Mesilla and a closing of the main access road to the center where I was speaking!  Oh well!

Otherwise the valley has had a lucky break from the drought. Over an inch of rain fell earlier in the month and another 24 mm today (September 28). Yellow composites are now blooming over the western mesa. Insect life has been very evident. I have observed several mantis (Stagmomantis sp.) males and one or two females over the last several weeks in our back yard. Another visitor was a male Flame Skimmer (Libellula saturata), one of the most stunning dragonflies in the Southwest.

Flame Skimmer

Flame Skimmer in Mesilla Park, New Mexico.

A Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) has been hanging around the neighborhood and I managed to get at least one nice photo of it.  

Road Runner in Yard Next Door

Roadrunner in yard next door.

Unfortunately the Rio Grande is now dry as water is being impounded behind the dams near Truth or Consequences and will not release water until spring, if then.  We are still hurting for water and even the recent rains have not alleviated the need for more runoff. Still there was some water in the Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park. I have seen no more Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes (Crotalus atrox), but the Sacred Datura (Datura wrightii) is usually in bloom still in the morning, the blooms withering by late morning.  Bees drink nectar from the flowers, sometimes seeming to be intoxicated by it.

Datura

Sacred Datura in Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park.

Fall is finally here in Nuevo Mexico, along with the heady smell of chilies roasting and the smell of leaves and earth after a rain. Not a bad place to be, despite all the troubles on the planet.  Note: I'm a bit late getting this diary out, but I have been very busy, in part because of the upcoming election!

Originally posted to Desert Scientist on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 08:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by Backyard Science, SciTech, J Town, New Mexico Kossaks, and Community Spotlight.

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