We didn’t have any specific plans for our trip after going to see Kilbourne Hole. So since we had to drive back through Truth or Consequences, we decided to stop there and let Tim have some coil time on his metal detector. We first went to a canyon hear Hillsboro, NM. We both struck out…no birds….no gold. So we got back in the car and headed towards Caballo Lake. While heading out of Hillsboro, we saw several cars parked along the highway and you could tell they were working dirt looking for gold.
Tim pulled in and spoke briefly to a couple about what they were finding. I stayed in the car. When he came back, he told me it was a husband and wife he spoke to. He said they were camping at Percha Dam State Park. The wife was a fellow birder and she said she had seen a Black Hawk and a pair of Vermillion Flycatchers. WHAT!!!???!!! I need both those birds!!!!! So, of course, I told Tim we had to go there before leaving town.
Since it was around noon, I knew the birds would be quiet at this hour. We headed over to the Caballo Mountains so Tim could do some prospecting. While he metal detected, I went searching for birds. By this time the temperatures were warming up. Scarlett was looking for every patch of shade she could find.
I didn’t see many birds. Mostly my favorite Black-Throated Sparrows. They always seem to be about all times of day.
I walked to a natural waterfall hoping for a trickle of water there but it was dry. I sat awhile and let Scarlett enjoy the cool sand and shade.After looking vainly for any birds, I headed back to the vehicle for some shade and comfort. Scarlett immediately crashed in the back seat enjoying the shade and cool breeze coming through the truck. I worked on editing photos from the day before. Then I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye. When I looked down, I saw a lizard camouflaged in the bushes. I love the turquoise coloring on him. Soon he darted away never to be seen again.
Tim came back to the vehicle after a couple of hours. He found one tiny piece of gold. At least he didn’t get skunked!
We finally got to head over to Percha Dam State Park. I really wanted to see if I could find that Vermillion Flycatcher. When we arrived I walked the park by myself while Tim relaxed in the vehicle and kept Scarlett with him. I immediately saw several Phainopepla. I tried getting some good photos of the male, but it was extremely windy. So the bird moving around on a swinging branch in the wind made for difficult photography.
While I was looking for that flycatcher Tim called me over to the truck. He said he had something he wanted me to photograph. He got out of the truck and pointed out a huge bullfrog in the grass. I mean huge!
He said while he was relaxing in the truck, he watched this bullfrog leave the dry canal and was slowly make his way toward the river.
I took a few photos of this bullfrog. He wasn’t moving very quickly but was clearly heading straight for the river, which was more than 100 yards away.
We decided we needed to help him get to the river. He was on the far side of the park and the gauntlet he would have had to traverse was crossing two roads, a playground, several campsites and the woods before he even got to the river’s edge. I figured he would have a better chance of surviving if I just carried him to the water’s edge. Being Easter Sunday, that park was pretty crowded. It took both hands to handle this giant. He was very cold so I figured he must not have been out of his hibernation spot very long.
Once we got him to the river’s edge, he still was reluctant to move much. But we wanted to make sure he was safe. So I found an area along the river that had lots of cattails so he could be at the water but also hidden from view.
After a little prodding on my part, he finally jumped into the water and safely out of harm’s way. He briefly stayed above water for a quick photo, then shot away with one powerful kick!
Tim stayed there a little while longer to make sure the bullfrog got safely away. There were lots of fisherman at the water’s edge.
That bit of excitement over, I was back to looking for that flycatcher. After about 10 minutes, I gave up and we got in the car to head home. We were both tired and hungry. Then just as we were driving out of the park, I saw a flash of bright red fly down from a tree and grab a bug on the ground. I yelled out “STOP!!!!” I jumped out of the vehicle and made my way over to the bird.
By this time the wind was really blowing. And that Vermillion Flycatcher male was not letting me get very close for a photo. So my pictures weren’t very good. But I still remember the joy and excitement I felt at seeing that gorgeous red bird come into focus in my viewfinder. Just breathtakingly beautiful!
Shortly after seeing the male, I spotted the female. She’s very pretty as well. I was thrilled! A new bird for me!
It was a great Easter Sunday adventure. We had a great weekend full of fun memories.