The weather lately has been tough to get out and take a nice long walk. I love walking for hours when I can. But cold windy winter days don’t appeal to me. I’m a warm weather lover.
Yesterday was very overcast and cold, around 34 degrees, with a breeze. Not ideal for me, but Scarlett and I needed a good long walk. So we headed out yesterday afternoon once I got my work done for the day. I decided to walk the irrigation ditch behind Corrales since I hadn’t been there in awhile. I headed north first and walked behind the homes along the seasonally dry irrigation ditch.
I wasn’t hopeful of seeing many birds since I was walking at the worst time of day for birding. But I was hopeful. Initially it was quiet. Just a few Juncos here and there.
About an hour into our walk the birds started coming out of their afternoon slumber. My first sighting was of a tree full of Goldfinches – both Lesser and American. They were way up high but I managed to get a photo or two.
I heard a few Pine Siskins in with them but was unable to grab a photo.
Further along the hike I came up to the back of a home that looked like a birder’s paradise. They had lush landscaping over several acres that was allowed to be a little on the wild side. Lots of trees and bushes. And two ponds. Needless to say there were lots of birds in the area even outside the yard along the ditch where I was.
I saw a wide variety of birds in this location. I will have to keep this location in mind and check back in the spring and summer.
I had been walking north for about 2 miles. I figured I better turn around at this point. The clouds had gotten thicker so my lighting was reduced for photos and it had gotten noticeably colder with less sun.
I decided to head back to the car by walking along the year-round ditch. I figured birds would be coming in for a late afternoon drink. And I was right!
There were also the usual residents of the ditch.
While walking along the ditch I also saw several birds I didn’t get photos of, like Cooper’s Hawks, Western Bluebirds, woodpeckers etc. But I did get some photos of the Sandhill Cranes flying over.
Up ahead Scarlett startled something at the water’s edge and I heard a big splash. When I looked ahead I saw something swimming toward a big hole in the side of the ditch. I managed to get a photo before it hurried into its lair. It was a muskrat! I’d never seen one before.
Scarlett was having a blast. She must have walked twice as far as me. She was very busy sniffing everything.
By this point we had been walking for 3 hours and over 4 miles. I was pretty chilled by now as the sun was very weak behind the clouds. The lighting made for some moody photos.
One last bridge to cross and we made it to the car. Scarlett took a long drink of water then flopped down on the back seat and started snoring. It was a wonderful afternoon together. And total bird species sighted on our hike was 31! Not bad for a winter afternoon walk.