Exciting Week

Last time I wrote, I had just ended the 2016 Birdathon.  Since the event ended at 10 am and I was only about 15 miles from Carlsbad Caverns, I decided to stop in and tour the cave before heading home.  I hadn’t been there since the 80s.

I understood there are cave swallows that live at the entrance of the cave.  These birds can only be seen in New Mexico way down south along the Texas border. So, of course, I just had to go see this bird as it would be a lifer for me.

Luckily I had my tripod with me as they were nesting deep under the cave roof.  This made for very low lighting.  But I managed to get a few decent shots.  My biggest disappointment in my camera is that it performs poorly in low light conditions.  Otherwise, I love my camera.  It’s small, lightweight and can zoom way out there.


Cave Swallow


Cave Swallow


After taking a few minutes to photograph the birds, I descended into the cave.  The cave descends 1.25 miles….and the elevator is broken……sigh…..

I really enjoyed touring the caves.  It is truly spectacular to see in person.  Photographs just cannot capture the real beauty of the formations.  I took a lot of photos, but overall I am disappointed in them because my camera just struggles in low light.  Here are a few of the more passable photos.


Overall, I walked 4 miles.  The ascent out of the cave was tough as I was the last one out and the park rangers were wanting to close up.  But I was proud of myself as I felt good climbing out.  All the walking this year has paid off! But I have to say I was relieved to see the entrance of the cave after all that climbing.


I was a sweaty mess after that hike, but I had to take a selfie because I was proud of myself 🙂

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Me after hiking the cavern. 

The cactus garden at the entrance of the cavern was in full bloom. I love the vibrant colors of the the cacti flowers.

When I got home I saw my bleeding heart plants were in full bloom.  I couldn’t resist photographing them.  And I was pleased to get a nice photo of a Pine Siskin enjoying my garden.


Pine Siskin

This week I took several short excursions around home to look for more spring/summer birds.

I had heard there are Acorn Woodpeckers in a canyon near Los Alamos, NM.  So on Tuesday I headed up there to find them.  They have a very unique voice and that’s how I first found them.  I was thrilled.  This is a gorgeous bird and not very commonly seen in New Mexico.


Acorn Woodpecker

Around mid-week I went up to Cienega Canyon to see what might be about.  Most of the birds were being shy that day so it was a challenge to get photographs.


Steller’s Jay


Hairy Woodpecker


American Robin


Broad-Tailed Hummimgbird


Warbling Vireo


Red-Naped Sapsucker


Mountain Chickadee

The highlight of that outing was seeing a whole flock of Grace’s Warblers.  Beautiful birds.  I managed to get quite a few nice photos as they foraged in the pines around me.


Grace’s Warbler

Miss Scarlett was being very patient waiting for me to photograph birds.


Miss Scarlett

Later in the week I stopped in at Valle de Oro.  It was very quiet in the fields, but the bosque along the river was busy with birds.  It was a beautiful day and Scarlett and I had a great time exploring.


Greater Roadrunner


Western Kingbird


Yellow-Breasted Chat


Summer Tanager


On Saturday I was heading to Valerie’s house for a fun day of scrapbooking.  She lives in Placitas.  I had heard there were Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Algodones, which is just up the road from Placitas.  So I stopped there first to see if I could find this woodpecker.

As Scarlett and I were heading into the bosque to look for this bird, we both heard a rattlesnake!!!!  It was about 3 feet in front of us hiding in the shade in front of a post!!

Now recently Scarlett attended a rattlesnake-proofing class to help prevent her from getting snake bites.  As soon as she heard that rattle, she was 30 feet away at the car!  I guess the training worked perfectly!!!  I was thrilled!!!!  Of course, my heart was pounding in fear as well as Scarlett’s.  The sight and sound of a rattlesnake is most fearsome!  But being the obsessed photographer, I had to take a few photos.


Western Diamondback


Western Diamondback

There were some people nearby that heard me cry out when I saw the rattlesnake.  They came over to help get this snake to move off the trail.  They had a canoe paddle and were trying to shoo it along.  But it kept striking the paddle.  I wish I had gotten a photo of that, but I was busy making sure Scarlett was safely away.

Since it didn’t want to move with the paddle poking at it, the guy started scooping up dirt and tossing it at the snake.  That did the trick and it finally moved on.  Whew!!!!!


Western Diamondback

After that initial heart-pounding excitement, I headed into the bosque to find that woodpecker.  It took a little coaxing to get Scarlett to join me.  🙂

The directions for the location of the bird were spot on.  I found it almost immediately.  It didn’t want me to get too close, so I didn’t get very good photos.  This is another beautiful woodpecker. I was thrilled to add another lifer to my list.   I’m up to 358 lifer birds I have photographed!


Red-Headed Woodpecker


Red-Headed Woodpecker

So my week was exciting in several ways.  🙂