Dead Horse Ranch State Park

I am sitting in the BIObus after a day’s collecting, and taking some time to enjoy a cold drink while I cool off. Grace is stitching together a GigaPan from this afternoon, Jay and Val are starting to sort and pin some of today’s specimens. It’s hot out, much cooler than it was in the scorching heat of Palo Duro Canyon mind you, but hot nonetheless. The bus is set up in a shady part of Quail Loop campground in the park, so named for the family of quail that we have spotted running between low scrub bushes, each with their head-feather bobbing comically as they hurry past.

Each state park that I have visited thus far has had one or two places that are so serene or picturesque that it is easy to forget that I am at work; at Dead Horse Ranch, that spot was the bank of the Rio Verde. With sunlight streaming through the trees, the river bubbling over the rocks, and the reeds swaying in the breeze, I put my net down and breathed it in. After a brief pause I was back to work, running after butterflies and beetles, swinging my net left and right.

I would like to take a second here to address all those skeptics out there, who believe that catching a butterfly is no great accomplishment. I invite any one of them to try and outrun a startled clubtail dragonfly, or to catch a swallowtail butterfly in flight; it is much more difficult than it would seem. I have to admit I was one of these aforementioned skeptics before I signed up with the BIObus, and spent the first few days of collecting swinging wildly in an unsuccessful frenzy, though I have improved since then (somewhat).

We still have a day or two left here before we move on, but already we have a diverse range of species to bring back home. Although I’ll be sorry to leave, I have new parks to look forward to, and who knows what new sights, people, and of course bugs, will be waiting for me when I arrive.

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