Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Resurrection of a Road

8/11/18 

I had been antsy to get out to Laguna Atascosa and do a BBS-style survey since they finished resurfacing General Brant Road, so finally got the opportunity today!  Not sure if the Rio Hondo Bridge was open yet, I went by way of San Benito and cut up to General Brant from FM 510 via FM 803.  Having found out from their website that the Bayside Drive is still not open L, I started surveying just past the residential area that’s east of FM 1847, as it’s almost all good thornscrub and prairie habitat with only a few scattered houses.  My first pre-dawn stop hit pay dirt with a Botteri’s Sparrow singing right next to the car, and while I waited for sunrise I logged a nice selection of things including both Olive and Cassin’s Sparrows, Blue Grosbeak, Dickcissel, Common Nighthawks, and Bobwhites.  (I think this first stop is very close to Cactus Creek Ranch, as that was actually the first hotspot that came up on eBird…)


Botteri's Sparrow

Continuing on, another stop had a nice pair of White-tailed Hawks in an open area, along with a Harris’ on another pole.  Some distant whistling ducks flew by that lacked the tell-tale white wing patches, making them Fulvous (had plenty of the Black-bellied as well).  I happened to stop at a couple of the “wildlife corridors” that they built to encourage animals to travel under the road and not across it; here a Roadrunner sang (the only one of the day, surprisingly), and a Bordered Patch fluttered in and posed for pictures.  Shortly after that is the must-stop-at wetland that feeds into Laguna Atascosa (there’s also a paved parking area for the Prairie Trail on the right):  the place was alive with Least Bitterns, Common Gallinules, White Ibis, Black-necked Stilts, a single Solitary Sandpiper and Gull-billed Tern, and even a Green Kingfisher came in to say hello!  The wires were lined with tons of Cave Swallows (plus a few Purple Martins), and several other herons either flew over or called from the reeds.  Down the road apiece you cross a Resaca which often is lifeless but today had oodles of stuff:  Willets, both flavors of yellowlegs, three Spotted Sandpipers, a couple of Black-bellied Plovers, another Gull-billed Tern, and even a couple of Wilson’s Phalaropes twirling around in the distance!

White-tailed Hawk

Bordered Patch
  
General Brant no longer “T’s” like it used to at Buena Vista, but rather the latter swings to the right, while you deliberately make a left turn towards the refuge headquarters.  By the ag fields an Upland Sandpiper flew overhead, and an Olive Sparrow came right out for pictures!  The day’s only Starling showed up on a wire, along with the Mockingbirds, Mourning Doves, and even a Collared Dove!  After getting my pass (where I found out that they’re hoping the Bayside Drive will be open to vehicles by this time next year) I headed out to Osprey Overlook, where a guy had his ham radio equipment set up!  So I listened in on these conversations while scanning Laguna Atascosa; picked up a single Little Blue Heron, several Black and Forster’s Terns out over the water, and a couple of Pied-billed Grebes on the water!  A quick look down the “dead end” road didn’t add anything new, but had several Scissor-tailed Flycatchers flopping around.

A few Olive Sparrow shots along the entrance road



Bronzed Cowbird on the road to Osprey Overlook

 Wandered around the headquarters area before checking out Buena Vista:  scruffy-looking Green Jays were coming to the open feeders along with a White-tipped Dove and Bronzed Cowbirds, and a couple of Long-billed Thrashers visited the drip at the blind (one was pristine and one was pretty scruffy).  Nothing was blooming so there wasn’t much butter action except for a Lyside Sulphur trying to hide, but on the way to the Kiskadee Trail a mom Chachalaca was feeding her three adorable babies behind the building!  
  
Scruffy Green Jays


Pristine Long-billed Thrasher

Not-so-pristine Long-billed Thrasher

Plain Chachalaca family

The trail itself was rather quiet except for a couple of anis, but a big surprise was flushing the Pauraque near the amphitheater!  The garden trail across the parking lot had several Snouts, and a little time at the gazebo water feature produced a bathing Olive Sparrow and drinking thrashers and cardinals.  A Myiarchus flycatcher came in that sure struck me as a Great Crested:  it seemed to have a marked contrast between the bright yellow belly and darkish gray throat, but unfortunately I couldn’t get a bead on it while it faced me to get a photo; by the time I found it in the viewfinder (my one real beef with the Powershot) it had turned sideways, and the resulting shots were inconclusive to my mind (the “dark gray” throat could easily be seen as an artifact of the light, and the diagnostic pale base to the lower mandible was not visible, although the tertial edgings looked pretty bright). After examining the photos Mary G. concluded that it was indeed a Brown-crested (the tail feathers growing in made it suspect to me as well...).

One of many Snouts

Brown-crested Flycatcher

Cardinal with flying water...

A pretty good storm was brewing, so I wrapped that up and headed for Buena Vista, as I saw cars going that direction and was wondering how much of the road was open.  Thankfully, the stretch of road that goes through refuge land is open, and was able to bag a Long-billed Curlew along here, but the monsoon hit as well, so about all I could do was scout the road!  It was closed again shortly before Laguna Vista, so I just turned around and headed back by way of General Brant, stopping at the Prairie Trail parking area to eat lunch and enjoy The Storm Part 2 that was rapidly headed my way!  Finished just before it hit, so continued on in to Rio Hondo in hopes that their bridge was finally open after years of work, and it was!!  (It’s a straighter shot from Alamo to go north on US 77 to Combes and head directly east…)

Incoming monsoon

Ended up with a respectable 82 species for the morning!  Bird list:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck         
  Fulvous Whistling-Duck               
  Plain Chachalaca                     
  Northern Bobwhite                    
  Pied-billed Grebe                    
  Least Bittern                        
  Great Blue Heron                     
  Great Egret                          
  Snowy Egret                          
  Little Blue Heron                    
  Tricolored Heron                     
  Green Heron                           
  Black-crowned Night-Heron            
  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron           
  White Ibis                           
  White-faced Ibis                     
  Black Vulture                        
  Turkey Vulture                       
  Harris's Hawk                        
  White-tailed Hawk                    
  Swainson's Hawk                      
  Common Gallinule                     
  Black-necked Stilt                   
  Black-bellied Plover                 
  Killdeer                             
  Spotted Sandpiper                    
  Solitary Sandpiper                   
  Greater Yellowlegs                   
  Willet                               
  Lesser Yellowlegs                     
  Upland Sandpiper                     
  Long-billed Curlew                   
  Least Sandpiper                      
  Wilson's Phalarope                   
  Laughing Gull                        
  Gull-billed Tern                      
  Black Tern                           
  Forster's Tern                       
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  White-winged Dove                    
  Mourning Dove                        
  Inca Dove                            
  Common Ground-Dove                   
  White-tipped Dove                    
  Yellow-billed Cuckoo                 
  Greater Roadrunner                   
  Groove-billed Ani                    
  Common Nighthawk                     
  Common Pauraque                      
  Chimney Swift                        
  Green Kingfisher                     
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  Ladder-backed Woodpecker             
  Great Crested Flycatcher             
  Brown-crested Flycatcher             
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Couch's Kingbird                     
  Scissor-tailed Flycatcher            
  Loggerhead Shrike                    
  White-eyed Vireo                     
  Green Jay                             
  Purple Martin                        
  Cave Swallow                         
  Black-crested Titmouse               
  Verdin                               
  Bewick's Wren                        
  Cactus Wren                           
  Long-billed Thrasher                 
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                    
  Olive Sparrow                        
  Botteri's Sparrow                    
  Cassin's Sparrow                     
  Northern Cardinal                    
  Blue Grosbeak                        
  Dickcissel                           
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Eastern Meadowlark                   
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Bronzed Cowbird                      
  Brown-headed Cowbird                 
  Bullock's Oriole                     

82 SPECIES

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Wild Darner Chase

8/6/2018 

Some incredibly rare and beautiful darners had been reported in the last several days (e.g. Turquoise-tipped, Blue-spotted Comet, etc.), so after being good-naturedly razzed by a couple of my odonate friends that I needed to get down there 🙂, I finally had some time after church to make a run down to Santa Ana, where many of these bugs were being found (and is thankfully only 15 minutes away from where I live)!  Most of the action was being reported along the Willow Lakes Trail, where it crosses two of the Willow Lakes (and the only two that currently have any water in them), so that’s where I headed first.  Sure enough, the place was alive with odes, but most of them were buzzing back and forth and back and forth and back and…you get the picture!  There were plenty of Red Saddlebags and Roseate Skimmers (some of the few odes I can ID on the wing), but thankfully a little dasher decided to land, and since my usual MO with odes is to “shoot now and look it up later”, that’s exactly what I did, although I suspected it was a Three-striped Dasher as its white abdominal spot near the tip was square-shaped (and having just gotten back from a dragonfly tour to Costa Rica with Dennis Paulson, the first thing that went through my mind was Square-spotted Dasher, but I don’t think so…🙂 ).  However, after getting home and processing the pictures, I discovered it was actually a Thornbush Dasher, with the distinctive “Y” on the thorax.

Here's the first Thornbush Dasher on the lake to the west of the trail...

...and here's a second bug hiding behind the culvert to the east!

What could be the original bug lands and then "obelisks" - he points his abdomen directly at the sun to minimize the rays beating down directly on it!


The heat was starting to get to me, so I decided to head back by way of the Chachalaca Trail, where I kept flushing all these tiny little moths (along with the Snouts); those that landed on top of a leaf (as opposed to underneath) looked to be either carpet moths or what are commonly known as “grays”, but I couldn’t pin them down to species.  A Northern Beardless Tyrannulet wheeked for the bird list, and where the pavement starts a nice Rosebelly Lizard posed.  I had noticed a lot of tree snails as well, so I was hoping the Hook-billed Kites would start showing up as a result!

Either a carpet moth or a "gray" of some kind (also below)


Rosebelly Lizard

Tree Snails that the Hook-billed Kites like

The canal is always a good place to look for odes (damselflies at least), and this time a Smoky Rubyspot had landed on the end of a twig, which I got to show to a family passing by!  A Blue-ringed Dancer was on another twig directly below the bridge, which was a challenge to shoot as the breeze kept moving it!

Smoky Rubyspot

Blue-ringed Dancer

I was able to cool down enough in the car by driving over to the other end of the parking lot that I braved the new butterfly garden and the “Entrance Pond”, which was dry as a bone this time, but at least I was able to scare up a family of Clay-colored Thrushes and several Tropical Leafwings hanging around this fruiting cactus (and I see they’ve also put in a water feature, so we’ll have to visit that again in migration)!  I also stumbled upon a cactus leaf that was covered with cochineal bug nymphs, the famous bugs that produce a red dye!

The "white stuff" is actually a protective coating that the nymphs produce; the nymphs themselves produce the "red stuff" from which carmine dye was made!


Tropical Leafwing

I had had it after that, but the show wasn’t over:  when I got home to the Alamo Inn gardens, a tiny little Southern Skipperling greeted me, along with our resident Polydamus Swallowtail, which is usually rather rare in the Valley, but I was told we had its host plant nearby, so that stands to reason!  A big Silver Orb Weaver was also hiding in plain sight – a stunning creature!

Southern Skipperling

Silver Orb Weaver

The flighty Polydamus Swallowtail can be hard to shoot!

(He never seems to stop...)




Even so, I tried to keep an eBird list at Santa Ana, so here it is:

Turkey Vulture  2
Gray Hawk  1
Inca Dove  1
Common Ground-Dove  1
White-tipped Dove  2
White-winged Dove  6
Mourning Dove  2
Groove-billed Ani  1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  2
Golden-fronted Woodpecker  2
Ladder-backed Woodpecker  3
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet  1
Brown-crested Flycatcher  1
Great Kiskadee  2
Tropical Kingbird  2
Couch's Kingbird  2
White-eyed Vireo  2
Green Jay  1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  12
Purple Martin  1
Black-crested Titmouse  1
Verdin  2
Carolina Wren  2
Clay-colored Thrush  7
Long-billed Thrasher  2
Common Yellowthroat  1
Olive Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  2
Altamira Oriole  1
Red-winged Blackbird  3
Lesser Goldfinch  2
House Sparrow  1

32 SPECIES

Monday, July 30, 2018

A Cool Place on a Hot Day

7/28/18 

Since returning from Costa Rica I hadn’t had a chance to get out birding (except around the neighborhood), so I was anxious to at least join Arroyo Colorado Audubon’s (ACAS) Birder Patrol and see my friends as we all descended upon Jan Jones’ yard in Progresso Lakes!  The temperatures were forecast to reach triple digits once again (it’s been that way for almost a month), so we figured that sitting in the shade of his back yard overlooking Moon Lake Resaca for a couple of hours would hit the spot!  Steve and Kathy joined me in Alamo and we headed over to Progresso Lakes; they actually took their own cars in case we all wanted to go our separate ways from there, so they followed me in.  I lowered my window along Moon Lake Drive and added a beenting Common Nighthawk and tons of Dickcissels singing in the fields! 

Pulling into Dan’s drive, Norma, Sue, Billy, Alicia, and Mark (ACAS’ new conservation chair) were already there, so having brought our lawn chairs we settled down to watch the show.  A Black Phoebe was up on the wire, and five Green Herons chased each other up and down!  A real treat was a Least Bittern flying back and forth, and a pair of Muscovy Ducks apparently nesting on top of a thick, dead palm tree!  Purple Martins were all over, and even a Bank Swallow called.  Both Couch’s and Tropical Kingbirds song-battled, and I thought I heard (and Billy thought he saw) an Eastern Kingbird, but without another good “listen” I wasn’t willing to say for sure, especially since eBird would have flagged it.  Eventually during the course of the morning both Green and Ringed Kingfishers shot by, a Yellow-crowned Night Heron briefly showed, and an Anhinga sailed past!  A Spotted Sandpiper bobbed across the way while a handful of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks flew over (a far cry from the mobs that were there last winter)!

The Birder Patrol patrolling Moon Lake Resaca

Feral Muscovy Duck at presumed nest site

One of several Green Herons

Kathy, Norma, Steve, Alicia, and Billy (Sue and Mark are hidden)

Some of us decided to walk down to the end of the road just to stretch our legs and see if anything else was about; an Olive Sparrow was singing from the woodland edge, and at one point a Yellow-billed Cuckoo went tearing past and landed for a look!  The neighbor’s friendly lab mix accompanied us while the girls gave me a crash course on some of the trees there (and I’ll need a lot more practice for sure).

Norma points out a Retama bush

Retamas bloom late in the summer and have multiple bean pods, in addition to long, skinny leaves.

Huisache, which blooms early in the spring

Tepehuaje, with large, single bean pods

Close-up of the Tepehuaje leaves

Returning to the yard we saw that Dan had joined the guys that stayed behind; he had forgotten we were coming and opened up his curtains to see a mob of people in his back yard! J  Billy was jokingly giving Dan a hard time for not producing a Clay-colored Thrush (he said that was the whole reason he came J), when suddenly the thing darted out of a tree and across the resasca!  We commented that his butterfly bushes were coming along nicely, and already his Pyramid Bush had come Clouded Skippers on it.  Just before we left Dan was showing Alicia the pods from his deceased yucca plant that could be used to make “babies”!

Pyramid Bush, a butterfly magnet!

Some of the gang continued on to Tiocano Lake to look for King Rails, but I had too many chores to do so headed home.  I ended up with a modest but very high quality list of 40 birds for the morning!  (And later I found out they had a lingering Sora there!)  Bird list:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck         
  Muscovy Duck                         
  Plain Chachalaca                     
  Neotropic Cormorant                  
  Anhinga                              
  Least Bittern                        
  Great Egret                          
  Snowy Egret                          
  Tricolored Heron                     
  Green Heron                           
  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron           
  Black-necked Stilt                   
  Spotted Sandpiper                    
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  White-winged Dove                    
  Mourning Dove                        
  Yellow-billed Cuckoo                 
  Common Nighthawk                     
  Buff-bellied Hummingbird             
  Ringed Kingfisher                    
  Green Kingfisher                     
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  Ladder-backed Woodpecker             
  Black Phoebe                         
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Tropical Kingbird                    
  Couch's Kingbird                     
  Purple Martin                         
  Bank Swallow                         
  Black-crested Titmouse               
  Carolina Wren                        
  Clay-colored Thrush                  
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                     
  Olive Sparrow                        
  Northern Cardinal                    
  Dickcissel                           
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  House Sparrow                        

40 SPECIES

Friday, June 8, 2018

Goin' With the Flow

6/8/2018 

Clayton, a journalist with Texas Highways, wanted to write an article about the Valley, found our hotel, and booked a room and a guide (me)! J  Neither she nor her photographer Kenny were birders, but their purpose was to do a “go with the flow” type of trip to the Valley (no GPS, and no technology – just reading the maps the old fashioned way J), and seeing Santa Ana was high on their list.  So we took off very early this morning to beat the heat!

We even beat the automatic gate going in J, but as I warned them, we’d probably hear a lot more than we’d see this time of year!  So I tried to point out what I was hearing:  White-winged and White-tipped Doves, Clay-colored Thrushes, and Olive Sparrows were amongst the early-morning songsters, and as we got out of the car a Chachalaca posed on a tree (which was also big on Clayton’s “wish list”), but didn’t stay around for a scope view…  

It was just after sunrise when we got there, so Kenny wanted to try and get some early morning shots in an open area, so we headed to Pintail Lakes first.  It was a beautiful morning and was actually quite pleasant to start; going over the levee we had a pair of Roseate Spoonbills fly past, and once out in the open and by the lakes a pair of Mottled Ducks greeted us first off (but again, didn’t stick around for scope views), and an adult and immature Yellow-crowned Night Heron posed on some dead branches.  A pretty Black-bellied Whistling Duck sat out in the lake, so we scoped him while Kenny took pictures of us enjoying the duck! J  

On the Pintail Lakes Trail

Clayton and Kenny

A Common Ground Dove sang and then darted past, but then I heard a Ringed Kingfisher call, so we hightailed it down to the last lake (also to get the sun to our backs) and were greeted with lots more night herons!  Each lake is numbered (and I keep forgetting which is which L), but the lake we ended up at had lots of Pied-billed Grebes on the nest, trumpeting Least Grebes, both Neotropic Cormorants and an Anhinga drying their wings, and Black-necked Stilts flying overhead!  Both Tropical Kingbird and Great Kiskadee gave us scope looks, and before long I heard a Blue Grosbeak singing – and there he was, right on top!  What a looker!  

Yellow-crowned Night Heron on the trail...

...and on the wood!
   
The kingfisher was in a tree along the trail, but obscured by branches, and as we tried to get closer he took off, but thankfully landed on a branch across the pond which was actually in great light!  So everyone got scope looks at him before he took off and showed off his lovely chestnut underparts!  Both Great Egrets and a Great Blue Heron flew in; Clayton relayed a story where one seemed to follow them all the way down the Guadalupe River on a boat trip!  I heard an ani, but never could spot him, telling my charges that he looks kinda like a grackle with a big schnozz!

Clayton enjoying scope views of the Ringed Kingfisher

We headed back after that, enjoying a pair of Blue-winged Teal that had joined the Mottled Ducks and a female Marl Pennant (until told otherwise) watching us from a stem!  Some Lesser Goldfinches fed in some sunflowers along the main trail, and taking the cutoff trail back to the tour road bagged us a pair of Altamira Orioles!  Up on the road a Beardless Tyrannulet called loud and clear, but as per usual wouldn’t let us get a look… L  We were on our way to the Willow Lakes connector trail and enjoying a Yellow-billed Cuckoo when the Rare Bird Alert went off on my phone:  a Mexican Violetear (which had initially shown up the day before at Quinta Mazatlan) had reappeared!  When I told them how rare this bird was (a life bird for me, definitely) and suggested they may want to write about chasing a rarity as part of the “birding culture” (plus the fact that the mansion itself has such a great history), they were very game!  So we double-timed it back to the car and headed to Quinta Mazatlan!

Female Marl Pennant

Kenny getting some photo ops

We found a spot in the almost-full parking lot, and right away the Chachalacas were doing their thing right there in the lot, spreading the morning news!  A Clay-colored Thrush zipped in while a Curve-billed Thrasher fed on the ground, but we quickly headed in, checked in, then found the clearing behind the amphitheater where the bird had been hanging out.  My friend Pat and I had zipped over the previous day and dipped (Keith gave his blessing to take a long lunch hour J), but we saw old friends, and practically the same crowd was back today!  The bird wasn’t visible when we walked up, but we gave it about 15 minutes before exploring the rest of the place, and in good journalist fashion, Clayton “interviewed” Mary G., Lizee C., and I think even Simon K. a little!  I had explained that this bird was a recent “split”:  what used to be known as Green Violetear – ranging from Mexico down into South America – was now the Mexican Violetear (for the birds in Mexico down to Honduras) and Lesser Violetear (everything south of there).  I wasn’t sure what the split was based on, so Mary gave us a rundown on the subtle differences in plumage and vocalizations.  In the meantime we enjoyed a little female Black-chinned Hummer that came in, and a family of Chachalacas that came right out on the road!  

After a while the group broke up while we waited out the 15 minutes, hearing a Hooded Oriole sing and a cowbird rattle (Clayton didn’t think very highly of their parasitic habits)!  After said 15 minutes I took my charges on a stroll around the main trail, where we had more closeup looks at Chachalacas, a family of Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, and a baby Curve-billed Thrasher being chased by an adult!  Clayton enjoyed the animal statutes (in case you didn’t see the real thing J).  We were just coming out of the Ebony Grove where I had been showing them the Green Parakeet nesting trees area when another alert came over my phone – the bird was back!  So we zipped back over there (along with everyone else who had gotten the alert) and again, the bird was gone by the time we got there… L  But this time he didn’t stay away long: I think both Mary and Lizee announced at once that they had the bird, and this time he posed just beautifully!  I eventually got the scope on him, and Clayton was just delighted with this sparkling little guy!  Even Kenny was able to get a digiscoped picture (which he immediately posted on Facebook J)! 

Clayton enjoying the statuary

A young Ladder-backed Woodpecker entertains us with its acrobatics!



Back at the watch site, Lizee, Mary, and Simon enjoy the vagrant Mexican Violetear (below)!


After that Clayton and Kenny explored the old mansion while the rest of us continued to enjoy the violetear, then eventually called it a day.  We had a modest 60 species for the morning, but you couldn’t beat the quality!  Bird List:

  Black-bellied Whistling-Duck         
  Mottled Duck                         
  Blue-winged Teal                     
  Plain Chachalaca                     
  Least Grebe                          
  Pied-billed Grebe                    
  Neotropic Cormorant                  
  Anhinga                              
  Great Blue Heron                     
  Great Egret                          
  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron           
  Roseate Spoonbill                    
  Turkey Vulture                       
  Common Gallinule                     
  American Coot                        
  Black-necked Stilt                   
  Killdeer                             
  Eurasian Collared-Dove               
  White-winged Dove                     
  Mourning Dove                        
  Common Ground-Dove                   
  White-tipped Dove                    
  Yellow-billed Cuckoo                 
  Groove-billed Ani                    
  Chimney Swift                         
  Mexican Violetear                    
  Black-chinned Hummingbird            
  Buff-bellied Hummingbird             
  Ringed Kingfisher                    
  Golden-fronted Woodpecker            
  Ladder-backed Woodpecker             
  Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet        
  Brown-crested Flycatcher             
  Great Kiskadee                       
  Tropical Kingbird                    
  Couch's Kingbird                     
  White-eyed Vireo                     
  Green Jay                            
  Purple Martin                        
  Bank Swallow                         
  Black-crested Titmouse               
  Verdin                               
  Carolina Wren                         
  Clay-colored Thrush                  
  Curve-billed Thrasher                
  Long-billed Thrasher                 
  Northern Mockingbird                 
  European Starling                    
  Common Yellowthroat                   
  Olive Sparrow                        
  Northern Cardinal                    
  Blue Grosbeak                        
  Dickcissel                           
  Red-winged Blackbird                 
  Great-tailed Grackle                 
  Brown-headed Cowbird                 
  Hooded Oriole                        
  Altamira Oriole                      
  Lesser Goldfinch                     
  House Sparrow                        

60 SPECIES