Roswell, Carlsbad Caverns, Hidden Valley Ranch RV Park. All belong in the category of locations worth visiting in New Mexico. Which is why the BIObus made it our first stop after leaving Catalina SP and saying goodbye to Arizona. Hidden valley is quite self-descriptive, being that the park was well away from the highway, nestled in desert hills. Whilst there Chris and I encountered an adorable round tailed lizard, a Texas horned lizard, and at night a Whippoorwill. As for invertebrates, there were plenty of giant wolf spiders, and we even found another tarantula, a male this time (males have smaller abdomens and are in general of smaller size). Hidden valley ranch was a great rv park with an accomodating host, a window to the desert, and I’d recommend it to anybody traveling through New Mexico.
Big Bend SP near Lajitas in Southwest Texas was next. We were amazed to see, during a one hour period of time around dusk, that literally hundred of Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) and common nighthawks (Chordeiles minor) swarm around our nearly deserted RV park, snatching up flying insects. I was even able to toss a couple ants up to the hungry bats zig-zagging above. At Big Bend we collected from the banks of the Rio Grande, only a stone’s throw (a unit of distance I personally determined to be accurate) from Mexico. The riverside was ripe with grasshoppers (Orthopterans) and damselflies (Odonates).
From then we traveled to Fort Clark Springs, Texas, where we met up with two former University of Guelph classmates, Nicole and Dom, who are participating in a project run by Texas A&M involving endangered bird species such as black-capped vireos. It was a huge pleasure to spend time with fellow Canadians, and to exchange intrepid tales of our international adventures.
Abandoning our initial plan to explore Kickapoo state park, having heard that it was very dry this time of year and would thus not yield much in the way of insects, we decided to collect mainly from the oasis that is Red Bridge Municipal park in Fort Clark Springs. Here there was a creek with aquatics that would have made Jeff blush had he still been onboard. We collected, spread the good BIObus word to several park visitors and befriend several curious locals. And now the BIObus sojourns onwards toward Gentry Creek, Oklahoma, the final official collection location on this leg of the expedition…