Embudito Trail in the Sandia Mountains

The weather has been just beautiful these last few days.  So I made it a point to make time to go hiking and birding.  I decided to hike the Embudito trail on the west side of the Sandia Mountains.  I haven’t been on that trail in 18 years! Spring is a great time to hike that trail because the snow melt creates small waterfalls all along the trail.  It’s considered a difficult trail…a fact I had forgotten.  You have to scramble over boulders, navigate narrow canyons filled with bushes and trees, and claw your way up muddy slopes. But it’s all worth it for the scenery, butterflies and birds.  Because there’s usually water in this canyon year round there are always birds and other critters.

I tried taking several photos but the canyon is so narrow and steep that the photos really didn’t do it justice.  I’ve included a few of the better pics.

As soon as I started my hike I saw a black-throated sparrow.  I love these beautiful birds! Always a joy to get an opportunity to photograph them.

I captured a fun photo of a bushtit feeding.  They are so acrobatic.  While watching them I heard a new bird singing.  I was very excited.  I saw him sitting atop a rock and got a great pic.  He was a rufous-crowned sparrow.  That makes bird #294 that I have photographed and identified.  🙂

I was also excited to hear and photograph a cactus wren.  That’s the first time I’ve ever seen one in the Albuquerque area and I’ve lived here 21 years.  As you’ve probably figured out by now…I love wrens!

Just before heading home I was thrilled to capture a pair of Western Scrub Jays gathering nesting materials.

DSC_7171

Curve-Billed Thrasher

DSC_7165

Western Scrub Jay

DSC_7138-2

Bewick Wren

DSC_7041

Gambel’s Quail

DSC_6986

Rufous-Crowned Sparrow

DSC_6980

Canyon Towhee

DSC_6904

Cactus Wren

DSC_6843

Bushtit

DSC_6662

Black-Throated Sparrow

The spring flows over smooth granite bedrock. And this is the trail too.

DSC_7108

This is one of the parts of the trail where you had to squeeze through the bushes up again the rock face.

I managed to get a few butterfly photos.  I thought taking pictures of birds was difficult, butterflies are even more difficult! So needless to say my photos aren’t great….something new to practice 🙂 DSC_7192 DSC_7133 DSC_7082 DSC_6785 DSC_6765

It was a fun day hiking and birding!

Piedras Marcadas – Petroglyphs National Monument, Albuquerque, New Mexico

My plans for the day to go thrift shopping with a friend fell through last minute.  So even though it was a cloudy, dreary day, I decided to go for a long hike.  My dog Liela hasn’t been on a walk much lately so she was begging to go out.  Trying to avoid the light rain surrounding the Albuquerque area, I remembered a great easy hike on the west mesa that is part of the Petroglyphs National Monument.

So camera and dog loaded in the Jeep, I headed across town.  I wasn’t sure if I would see many birds as I chose the worst time of day (1:30 pm) to go birding.  But because it was overcast, I guess the bird activity was better than usual at that time.

I heard a lot of Rock Wrens (wrens are my favorite) in the area singing away.  They know spring is edging out winter.  I was lucky to have a curious one get fairly close to me.  Got several great pics.

It was nice to explore the petroglyphs.  I never seem to tire of them.  If you look close, you’ll see some of the hands have 6 fingers.  Interesting…

I also saw a pair of Northern Flickers that must be building a nest among the rocks.  They kept hanging out around this one big boulder way up on the hillside.  I managed to get somewhat close to get a photo.

And there was a Say’s Phoebe hanging out managing to find a few insects for lunch.

Liela was going crazy seeing lots of squirrels and jackrabbits.  She just loves to chase critters! But I wouldn’t let her go and she was not happy about that.  Bunnies got to live another day.  I was happy to get a shot of the jackrabbit.  I usually just see them from behind lol!

All in all, it was nice to get out and get some fresh air and see some sights and birds.  Never a bad day when I’m out in nature!

DSC_6451

Rock Wren

DSC_6524

Rock Wren

DSC_6422

Rock Wren

DSC_6622

Northern Flicker

DSC_6635

Say’s Phoebe

DSC_6385 DSC_6491 DSC_6547 DSC_6576 DSC_6583

Birding and Exploring Sapello, New Mexico

I recently had to travel to northern New Mexico to a little spot on the road called Sapello (Sap Pee O) New Mexico.  I had to work there for several days but made sure to take some time for birding and exploring the area.  I drove up to a very secluded lake called Morphy Lake. The drive was windy and steep and only one-lane wide but it was well worth the effort.  On the way I saw a lot of old buildings on private land that were probably built by ranchers in the 1800s.  It was great to see so many being maintained by the property owners.

DSC_6182

DSC_6194DSC_6254DSC_6029

There were a couple dozen turkey that were in the field adjacent to our job site.  They were there every day.  Shy but I was able to get a few photos before they ran for the bushes.  Didn’t see any males unfortunately.

DSC_5837DSC_5868

I was excited to see some magpies.  They don’t live as far south as Albuquerque so it’s always a real treat to see them.  Of course, the locals say they are pests as they will eat most anything…dog food, snack food, whatever they can find handy.  They were shy as well so had to really utilize my zoom lens to get a photo.

DSC_6227

Magpies

There was a pair of Say’s Phoebes that were hanging around as well as a pair of bluebirds and hairy woodpeckers. On the way home I was thrilled to see a pair of Horned Larks.  Unfortunately the male dove for the scrub but the female posed nicely for me.

Female Horned Lark

Female Horned Lark

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

DSC_5985

Female Mountain Bluebird

DSC_5548

Hairy Woodpecker

DSC_5951

Say’s Phoebe

DSC_6094

American Robin