I haven’t written in some time. Life got busy, times got difficult, and now the world is in chaos. I realized recently that I have let myself get into a funk. I am unhappy with how things are right now. I worry how long it will be before we get back to normal. And what will normal be??? I have missed my life before all this craziness began.
I started realizing I needed to do something that will keep me from getting down. So I am going to get out more and explore. I love being behind a camera and see birds and landscapes.
This morning I got up early and drove to Los Poblanos Open Space. With the hot days we’ve had, I figured I needed to be there as close to sunrise as possible.
This morning was gorgeous! Cool and calm, and lots of birdsong.
I had fun taking some scenic photos of the open space while the sun was just rising. I had forgotten how beautiful summer could be in Albuquerque.
I decided to walk the entire perimeter of the open space before going in and bird. This way I could photograph some of the sites during the beautiful dawn light.
Since the Los Poblanos open space is irrigated all summer, it felt so lush and green.
Lots of folks were up early to walk their dogs and enjoy nature. There were a few birders out as well.
After the wonderful dawn light was past, I changed lenses and went birding. I had been hearing a lot of birdsong during my walk and was anxious to get some photos.
One of the first birds I saw was to my surprise, a Lazuli Bunting! This bird has been my nemesis for years. Never could seem to get a decent photo. Finally! I got to see this bird up close and get a few nice shots. A wonderful way to start off a birding day.
Lots of Western Kingbirds were out. They seem to chatter constantly. I love that about them. They are not shy!
In the top of a tree in the distance, I saw a large bird. I knew it was a raptor, but what kind? Once I finally got closer, I saw it was a Swainson’s Hawk. That was another nice surprise.
There were loads of Canada Geese about. They seem to enjoy the flooded fields.
Near the community garden, a few Greater Roadrunners were enjoying the morning. I never tire of seeing a roadrunner. They are so intelligent and have great personalities. It’s always a treat to see our state’s bird. The roadrunners here at the garden as so used to people. I was able to get within 10 feet of the birds and they just ignored me.
Near the end of my walk, I was astonished to see a Barn Owl fly overhead. Wow! I had to track him down and see if I could get a better photo than the quick one I took of him flying over.
I was fortunate that it decided to roost in a visible location right next to the drainage ditch. It had its back to me so was very camouflaged. It took me a few minutes to find him, but was well worth the effort. What a gorgeous sighting!
I had a wonderful birding hike this morning. It definitely helped get me out of my funk. Join me again soon on my next hike. And I will be posting photos from my Nome, Alaska, trip I took this past June!
This should be my last post from my trip to Texas last May/June. It’s taken awhile to get caught up on my blog.
Birding in Port Aransas this last time was bitter sweet in many ways. First off I knew it was most likely the last time I would be visiting there. I lived in Corpus Christi from 1982 to 1994. With my parents living in San Antonio, it was an easy drive for us to go to the beach whenever I visited them. The last time I posted about birding in Port Aransas, my dad was still alive and me and my parents had taken a 5-day trip to the beach. It was in May during spring migration. I had plenty of time there to explore all the bird sanctuaries. All the wonderful boardwalks into the marshes and estuaries were so much fun to explore.
Since that last visit, I had forgotten that Hurricane Harvey had come through and dealt a lot of damage to the coastal towns of Padre Island. So while I was excited to visit the beach, I was sad to know my dad wouldn’t be there to join us and that all the bird sanctuaries had been destroyed.
Demolition and construction was still ongoing while I visited. This restaurant still hadn’t been addressed.
Going to cost a pretty penny to get this boat fixed.
Birding this year was tough. I believe a lot of the birds did not linger during the spring migration because the usual areas they visited were completely destroyed. Also, I think a lot of the local birds had left and not returned. Needless to say, it took a lot of driving around to find any birds. But I did manage to find a few good spots.
The first evening we were there I drove to the ferry and the walkway along the intra-coastal channel. The damage from the hurricane was very evident here. Huge pieces of concrete were lifted like they weighed very little.
Destruction from Hurricane Harvey
While here I enjoyed the antics of several dolphin getting dinner. It was interesting to watch them herd fish toward the wall so they could catch them. I spotted a mother and her calf working the wall.
Mother dolphin with calf looking at me
The sunset was gorgeous!
The next morning was when I realized all the local birding hot spots were destroyed. Thankfully I saw signs saying they already had funding in place to repair all the boardwalks. It looked like their plans were even going to improve what was originally there. Someday if I make it back there I will have to see what they did.
I headed to the beach and jetty where I knew terns had gathered in the past. Thankfully, this spot was still favored by the terns. The surf was rough and the birds were gathered in big numbers fishing.
Terns and gulls fishing the rough surf at the jetty
I found an area where the birds were resting and grooming after tackling the rough waters. I was able to get several good pics of the terns resting.
Black Tern Juvenile
From there I headed down the road toward the big bridge going to Corpus Christi. There is a marina there. I’ve seen birds hanging out there in the past so had high hopes I would see some that morning.
Along the highway I saw a hawk looking for breakfast in the coastal grasslands. I had to take a second look as I realized it was a new bird for me! A White-Tailed Hawk. Gorgeous!!!
I saw a Roseate Spoonbill fishing the shallows not far from the marina. I pulled into a construction area to get closer for pics. I managed a few photos before I was run off by the foreman. 🙂
As I was driving into the marina I spotted a beautiful Osprey hanging out on the electric wire. He let me take a few pics before flying off.
The marina was not a disappointment. There were several birds hanging out hoping for a free meal.
Black-Crowned Night Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Black-Crowned Night Heron
Near the marina is an area that shorebirds have liked in the past. I drove over there to see if I could find anything. I was thrilled to see a pair of Willets with two young babies. I’d never seen Willet babies before. Adorable! I sat for some time just watching this little family. You can’t help but smile and enjoy new life.
Soon though the parents grew nervous and started telling me to move along.
Willet telling me to move along
There were also some Black-Necked Stilts and a Reddish Egret enjoying the shallows.
The next morning I decided to go the Horace Caldwell Fishing Pier. Not sure if I would see anything here, but it was fun to go there at sunrise.
Horace Caldwell Pier
Beach at Port Aransas, Texas
I came across these two children fast asleep on the pier. Their parent must have gotten them up really early to fish. 🙂
Too early of a morning for these kids
The only birds I saw were White-Winged Doves and Pigeons. What I found curious though, was a cross between these two species. Interesting bird.
The Rock Pigeons at the pier had very dark plumage. Doesn’t make sense at a hot beach!
Rock Pigeon and White-Winged Dove Cross Breed
After the pier I drove to the lone surviving boardwalk that overlooked a salt flat. Most of the birds were too far away for photos. I managed to see one bird closer to me. And to my surprise it was a lifer! A Black-Bellied Plover Juvenile. Too bad it wasn’t an adult. They are beautiful birds. Even better, this is a rare sighting for the area! I wouldn’t have believed I identified this bird correctly if it hadn’t been sighted by other birders on eBird.
Black-Bellied Plover – juvenile
I spotted a few birds flying over and managed to snap a couple of photos on the fly. 🙂
During this trip I decided to take a ride on the Red Dragon.
While waiting to start the boat ride, I saw the local offshore fishing tour boats had come in as well. They were hanging up the catch of the day. Lovely Red Snappers with a few other interesting fish mixed in.
Nice haul for the day
It’s was fun sailing with the pirates!
Kelly sailing on the Red Dragon
Arrrrrr…there be Pirates!
Beautiful boat ride
The Captain at his helm
I took the sunset tour. We boated along the intra-coastal and made it to the lighthouse. We got there just as the sun was setting. So lovely!
Sunset over the lighthouse
One day at the ferry I spotted a juvenile Laughing Gull trying to swallow a whole fish. He tried and tried to gulp that fish down.
Laughing Gull juvenile
I love people watching. I think most people do. While there I captured a few fun moments of people watching.
The waiting line for the ferry was so long and slow, this girl had time to get into the back of the car and get cold drinks for everyone. It was fun to watch her walk along with the car while digging in the cooler.
I saw lots of turtles about while birding. I had never really seen turtles there before so it was fun to see several on this trip.
Turtle moving along
I had a great time at the beach birding and spending time with my mother. We enjoyed sitting on the beach, enjoying the warm summer days. And we had fun shopping and eating delicious fish and shrimp dinners. I’m so glad we took the time off to relax after all the stresses.
While in San Antonio last June, I visited the Japanese Tea Garden. It’s not a very big place, but it’s very unique. This site was initially a limestone quarry that opened in 1840. Many of the buildings in San Antonio during that time were built with the stone from this quarry.
Entrance to the gardens
In 1880 it was changed to a cement quarry. At this time a kiln was added to the site, which still stands today.
Old kiln door
Kiln stack and buildings
Such unique craftsmanship
Living quarters for the laborers
More openings for the kiln
By 1917 the cement plant had shut down. The City Parks department of San Antonio launched a program to convert the old quarry into a Japanese Tea Garden. Prison labor was used to shape the quarry into a complex that included walkways, stone arch bridges, an island and a Japanese pagoda.
Restored pagoda, gardens and pond
What a wonderful idea for an old quarry.
In 1919, at the city’s invitation, Kimi Elzo Jingu, a local Japanese-American artist, moved to the garden. Him and his wife maintained the garden, lived in the garden and raised 8 children. Kimi died in 1938 and in 1941 the family was evicted from the garden due to the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment of World War II.
Arched path built by prison labor
Such beautiful landscaping
Bridge to the kiln stack.
The Japanese Tea House up above.
For years the garden sat in neglect and disrepair, becoming a target of graffiti and vandalism. In 2005 the city started restoration on the pagoda-like pavilion.
The roof was rebuilt in 2005.
In 2007 restoration began to restore the ponds and waterfall.
View from the pagoda
Path to the waterfall.
I loved the waterfall!
All work was completed by 2011. The Jingu family members still alive returned for the public re-opening. In recognition of the garden’s history, it has been designated as a Texas Civil Engineering Landmark, a registered Texas Historic Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Walkway from the gardens to the zoo nearby
I am so glad this precious gem of history has been saved and has been restored to its previous glory. It was a wonderful place to visit. So peaceful and beautiful.
I loved walking these paths
If I lived here, I would visit often!
Scarlett enjoyed touring the walkways as well. She was curious of the Koi fish and they looked like they were just as curious.
Scarlett was fascinated by the curious koi 🙂
I love the colorful koi fish
I’m so glad I decided to visit the gardens. I would have been sad if I had never taken the time to see such beauty that has been restored to its former glory.
At the end of May I drove my mom back to San Antonio so we could get her house cleaned up to sell. I stayed for about 2 weeks. Summertime in Texas is HOT and HUMID. Ugh! Because of this, there weren’t very many birds about during the dog days of summer. All of the migrants were gone leaving only the local birds.
In order not to die while birding, I got up at 6 am every morning to head out before it got to 100 degrees. Yikes! I drove to several locations during my stay. I found the best opportunities for birds was if I visited the small lakes all around San Antonio.
On of my favorite birding spots I discovered was Live Oak Lake in Live Oak, Texas. It was only about 7 miles from mom’s house. It had a nice path all the way around the lake. Believe me, you don’t want to wander off path into the grasses there. That lake was loaded with snakes!
They even had signs saying so!
I thought it was a joke until I saw this!
Needless to say, I tread carefully wherever I went. Yikes!
The resident Northern Mockingbird greeted me when I pulled into the parking lot. I have never found a shy Mockingbird.
Live Oak Lake is home to lots of herons and egrets. They are used to people walking around the lake, so they just seemed to ignore me and go about their business…as evidenced by this Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. He caught a monster crawdad!
Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
While I was photographing him, he quickly lunged and came up with the huge crawdad!
It’s like the size of a lobster!
There was a juvenile looking on with envy…
Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night Heron
There lots of Green Herons about. In Albuquerque I’m lucky to come across one here and there. But at this lake, there were so many they constantly chased each other trying to keep a preferred fishing spot to themselves.
Checking me out 🙂
Needed a better look LOL!
The resident Great Egret was fishing along the edge of the lake. I saw him intent on something in front of him.
Then all of a sudden he lunged! Fortunately I managed to get a great pic of him diving for his prey. Sadly, he missed on that attempt and decided to move to a different part of the lake for better luck fishing.
Great Egret fishing
There was a pair of Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks watching all the goings on around the lake. I think they are beautiful waterfowl.
Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks
The Muscovy Ducks had some babies while I was gone for several weeks. I saw this one mother with a huge brood!
All the while I’m photographing birds, Scarlett was kicked back relaxing and watching all the people and birds.
And Squirrels!!! She was on high alert when she spotted the squirrels!
Scarlett keeping a sharp eye on the squirrel nearby.
The squirrels kept on eye on her as well.
Staring contest between the squirrel and Scarlett
There were some other small birds about. But overall it was pretty quiet for them. So I ventured over to Converse Lake. It’s a more wild lake. You pretty much can only walk along one edge of the lake. The rest of it is overgrown. Because of this, the smaller birds tend to hang out here more. I got 2 lifers at this lake!!! A Rusty Blackbird and a Couch’s Kingbird.
The Mute Swan I saw last time I visited was joined by his lady and their two new babies. Adorable! I’d never seen baby swans before.
Mute Swan male
Mute Swan female and babies
Here are some of the other small birds I saw around this lake.
Black-Crested Titmouse enjoying a bird drip fountain
Brown-Headed Cowbird female and male
While photographing the little birds, I heard a commotion behind me. I looked across the open field and saw a Red-Tailed Hawk had caught a White-Winged Dove. Surprisingly a Northern Mockingbird harassed the hawk until it took its breakfast elsewhere.
Red-Tailed Hawk being attacked by a Northern Mockingbird
One delight while visiting Converse Lake was that the water lilies were in full bloom. Just beautiful!
One of my favorite photos of the visit
One thing I noticed about San Antonio is that there is a huge population of Black Vultures. These birds are huge and were everywhere I went in great numbers.
Must be tasty as a squabble broke out over it
There are always lots of White-Tailed Deer around the San Antonio parks. I really liked this photo I took of a doe enjoying the wildflower field.
There were a few other blooming flowers about, but not many as San Antonio was experiencing a drought.
Honey bee enjoying the clover blooms
This squirrel appreciated the water put out for the birds.
While driving around, I came across this sign. I had to turn around to take a picture. Don’t you wonder how this creek was named???
One morning I arrived well before sunrise. I came across this Little Blue Heron fishing. I loved the colors and lighting of this photo.
Little Blue Heron
It was nice getting out early every morning and seeing some fun bird sightings. I actually got a 3rd lifer, but sadly my photo is just too poor to post. I saw a Brown Boobie. I never dreamed I would see this bird in San Antonio. It was a rare sighting indeed. Sadly, it was on the far side of a lake with no way to get closer. My lens just couldn’t get a clear pic, though the markings are clear enough to identify it for me. Someday I might see one to get a better photo! 🙂
This doe found a nice place to sit out the day’s heat
I recently went on a hiking trip to Red River, New Mexico. I love Red River. It’s a beautiful mountain town with amazing scenery. New Mexico has been experiencing a severe drought. Many of our forests are being closed to safeguard them from forest fires. I think my trip was timed just before the Carson National Forest is closed.
I drove through Taos and was happy to see Black-Billed Magpies busily hunting for food. I usually get terrible photos of these birds. But on this occasion, I had a very cooperative bird and was able to get some nice photos.
While in Taos I came across several Rock Pigeons enjoying a puddle together. I thought they looked adorable.
Birds of a feather….
Flock together….and enjoy a refreshing bath
I spent 3 days there and thankfully it rained each evening. Hopefully they don’t experience any closures. On Day 1 I drove to Red River and met up with the hiking group at the Columbine State Park trail. This was a nice, easy trail. I climbed about 500 feet in elevation over 2 miles. The trail is along Columbine Creek, which is a lovely little creek.
Scarlett was happy to be on a hike and water to play in! She needed a good hiking trip. She ran and ran and splashed and splashed. But occasionally she used one of the bridges (after she ran through the creek!).
I loved how the trail crisscrossed the creek. It always fun to walk along water – especially in New Mexico.
Only rocks here to cross the water.
There were a few flowers trying to bloom even though we are experiencing a drought. Even a few strawberries were determined to bloom.
I loved the scenery as I climbed. The aspen trees were beautiful in their new leaves.
Quakies as they are called in New Mexico
I came across one area that begged me to take some creative photos. I love how the log crossed the small waterfall. I couldn’t decide which one I liked best….
I liked this area so much, I had someone take a pic of me and Scarlett.
Kelly and Scarlett
There were several small waterfalls along this trail. I’m glad I was wearing my waterproof hiking sandals so I could get in the water for fun photos.
I eventually climbed higher and left the creek below.
Scarlett ran ahead of me most of the time. At one point I didn’t see her so I called her name. The silly girl peeked at me from around a tree. LOL!
Scarlett hiding behind a tree.
I had wanted to hike further up the trail, but a storm cloud had been brewing while I hiked. At one point it started rumbling, so I figured I’d better turn around and head to the condo. Scarlett was happy to run back downhill!
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I passed a small lake on the way to the condo. It must have interesting minerals in the water to give it a beautiful turquoise blue color.
Eagle Rock Lake
Along the road I saw a beautiful little waterfall. I just had to park and climb down the steep incline to photograph it. Totally worth it don’t you think?
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Tune in next time for Day 2. I hiked to a beautiful waterfall and a lake!
Over the past few weeks I’ve had a chance to get out and bird a time or two. I mostly went out to see some rare sightings that have shown up around town. I missed several, but managed to see a couple to add to my life list.
I visited Valle de Oro a couple times. I had heard there were a number of warblers there. It’s always fun to go find warblers, though my neck complains by the end of the day LOL!
When I arrived at Valle de Oro I saw a pair of coyotes out hunting. One disappeared right away, but the other stayed out long enough to let me get a few good pics.
As always, I saw several Western Meadowlarks out singing. I love their beautiful voice.
I walked along the main drainage ditch hoping to see some good birds. A scrub jay announced his presence.
Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay
Then almost right away I heard a lot of birds singing. I just started taking pics of everything that moved. As you know, songbirds are small and fast!!! When I looked at the pics I was surprised to see a several birds I don’t see often. Mainly my nemesis, the Lazuli Bunting. Try my hardest, I can’t get a good pic of this bird.
Black-Throated Gray Warbler
I heard several Summer Tanagers singing. It’s amazing how a bright red bird can hide among green leaves. But they can just disappear! I only got a few pics and they weren’t very good. But I did see a Western Tanager female closer to me.
Western Tanager Female
I had been told where a Common Black Hawk’s nest was near the Valle de Oro. So I went on a 2-mile hike to find this beautiful bird. Once I was in the general location, I looked for the nest. I found it way up high in a cottonwood tree. There was no seeing if anything was in the nest. I waited around for a while and eventually heard the hawk calling from a distance. Then to my delight the bird flew in and landed near the nest. A lifer for me! At first I barely saw him as he was deep in the leaves.
Common Black Hawk
Eventually he moved to a better location for photos. This is a magnificent bird. From what I understand there are only about 250 breeding pairs in the US. They are easily disturbed by humans and are known to abandon nests if bothered too much. So after getting a few pics, I quietly left the area to let them raise their young undisturbed.
Common Black Hawk
On my way back I saw a flycatcher along the ditch. I believe it’s a Hammond’s Flycatcher.
Then I heard another bird calling that I only rarely hear – a Gray Catbird. Always a treat to see and hear! I only managed one pic and that was from behind.
While hiking along he ditch, I enjoyed the wild irises blooming.
While hiking at Valle de Oro I came across this interesting insect. I tried looking it up, but I can’t figure out what it is.
Not sure what this cute guy is….
I had heard about a very rare sighting in the East Mountain area that I just had to go find. There was a Golden-Winged Warbler sighted and it was practically in my back yard. After much searching I was rewarded with a short view of this bird. I took several photos before he disappeared into the deep brush. I managed to get a few decent pics. Another lifer!
While hiking there I was treated to some beautiful wild apple blossoms.
Wild apple tree blossoms
I visited the Rio Grande Nature Center. I hadn’t been there in a while, so it was a treat to see it in the springtime. Right away I heard a Yellow-Breasted Chat singing. I managed to find it in a tree on the island in the pond. So it was quite a distance away.
I also saw the resident roadrunners in the parking lot. Always fun to photograph!
While walking the paths, I heard some Summer Tanagers talking back and forth amongst each other. This time I had more success getting photos of the pair.
Summer Tanager male
Summer Tanager female
There were several Black-Chinned Hummingbirds visiting the feeders. Whenever there are several hummingbirds at a feeder, there’s always fights defending their food. For a tiny bird, they are fierce!
Uh oh! He sees another hummer coming for him!
Defending the feeder!
Here are some of the other birds I saw on my visit.
The gardens were beginning to bloom. The bees were happily gathering pollen.
Giant black bee
I was entertained by a resident White-Winged Dove that has become very tame. The gardeners told me his name was Lonesome Larry. He was so tame, he would take see from your hand. He stayed so close to me, that I barely got photos because my zoom lens had a hard time focusing on such a close subject. 🙂
Such beautiful coloring
I’ve been keeping an eye on a Red-Tailed Hawk’s nest not far from my house. When I visited recently, I saw the eggs have finally hatched. When I first looked, I thought there was only one baby. But the mother flew off the nest and I saw two babies!
Red-Tailed Hawk with babies
It’s been great getting out birding. It was nice to see all the summer birds returning to Albuquerque.
In early April I flew to Atlanta to surprise one of my best friends, Kelly, on her 40th birthday. She had no idea I was coming, so it was a wonderful surprise for her.
Her local friends put on a fabulous party for her. It was first class! They even got her an ice sculpture!!! I also stayed up the longest I ever had. I got up at 3:30 am to catch my flight and when I landed I immediately went to the party. Things didn’t wrap up there until 3:30 am and then we had an hour’s drive to Kelly’s house. I don’t think I went to be until after 5 am!
Kelly & Kelly
Me with Bob Dylan – one of Kelly’s favorite artists
Another friend named Angie also flew in to surprise Kelly. The three of us used to work together here in Albuquerque, but eventually Angie and Kelly moved away. Thankfully we have kept in touch and manage to see each other periodically.
The day after the party, the three of us wanted to do something together. But nothing too adventurous since we were slightly hungover and short on sleep. It was a pretty nice day so we decided to visit the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I’m so glad we went. We strolled and visited and enjoyed beautiful scenery.
The day we were there was the last day of an orchid show. They had over 400 variety of orchids on display. Stunning! I had no idea there were so many varieties!
Angie, Kelly & Kelly
Kelly & Kelly
The show was held in the Conservatory. A very large building that had several types of climates.
Here’s some of the stunning orchids we saw. I could have posted so many more than this! 🙂
I never would have guessed these were orchids.
This one looks like the head of a cobra snake.
Stunning colors and patterns
Touring the conservatory was just amazing. Everywhere you looked, there was something unique. No niche was left without some kind of plant. You wanted to walk through slowly so as not to miss some little treasure.
These strands are roots of plants planted 30 feet above in the ceiling. I loved this!
All of these colors are on one plant.
I thought this looked like the mouth of the Kraken! Arrrgh!!! 🙂
There were many varieties of pitcher plants. Fascinating!
These stripes looked painted on.
Outside, we walked along an elevated footpath that offered stunning views of the gardens and you felt like you were walking in the tree tops.
There were wonderful statues throughout the gardens. One of my favorites was of a bust of a woman. It will be a living statue in the warmer months. But for now, she’s bare but still beautiful.
Fat, lazy frog!
Adorable statue of a boy catching frogs.
I really liked this deer statue.
The living statue. I hope to see this woman transformed with living, blooming plants.
We visited the children’s garden. Kelly hates snakes, she didn’t want to walk on this path. LOL!
A little gnome was trying to get my attention 😉
The grounds were just beautiful. I can only imagine this place in the warmer months. It must be spectacular!
The pink tree is dead. They painted it to give it a second life.
I liked the perfect pine tree
One of my favorite photos was of the English garden area. Just beautiful!
I think we only saw maybe a 1/3rd of the gardens that day. It’s a huge place. It was still pretty cold in Atlanta. But there were a few blooming plants and trees outside.
One of my favorite blooming trees – the Dogwood
Not sure what this flower was, but this is exactly what it looked like. Seriously!!
Stunning Japanese Maple
We came across these vivid azaleas. Such striking colors!
Can you believe these colors!?!
The trees in Atlanta are so tall. I’m not used to trees that big. Things are more stunted out here in the desert.
I have a confession to make about this post. Can you believe I didn’t bring my camera with me to Atlanta?!? I was only going for 3 days and the forecast said rain the whole time. I just figured we wouldn’t get out so didn’t want to keep up with my camera. I was grieving for it!!!
My purse I used looks like a camera. So Kelly took a picture of me acting like I’m taking a photo with my camera purse. That’s how desperately I was wanting my camera!
So what did I use to take these photos? My phone!!! Our phone’s cameras have improved tremendously over the last few years. I was real pleased with what I captured. I hope you agree!
I’m planning on visiting again in August. I will definitely be bringing my good camera then!!!
With my several trips this year and busy work, I haven’t had time to blog as often as I would have liked to. So I thought I would combine several sightings over the summer into one post. Now that fall is officially here, many of these birds are gone or will be gone soon.
During the summer I went on several day hikes within a couple hours of Albuquerque. Partly to see something new in scenery and partly to see some birds I don’t normally see around home.
One hike that was new for me was the Cave Creek hike in the Pecos Wilderness. It’s about a 5-mile round trip hike to some caves that were created by water eroding through limestone. It was a beautiful hike in thick forest along a creek. Of course, Scarlett enjoyed the water immensely!
So much fun at the water crossings!
Lovely stream to hike along.
The caves were very interesting. There were several that were big enough to walk inside of. I didn’t go very far in as it got dark quickly and I wasn’t sure how deep the water got. But lots of fun to explore. Scarlett was curious about the caves as well.
Unique caves created by water erosion.
Scarlett exploring a smaller cave.
On this hike I saw a flock of Dusky Grouse. This is pretty much the only grouse specie New Mexico has. I’ve only seen this bird a few times of the past 20 years and never very close. But I was lucky on this hike. When I startled them, they flew into a nearby pine and sat very still – which was perfect for a great photo.
Another day I ventured to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains next to Santa Fe. It was a very cloudy day and the birds were few, but I managed to get a few nice sightings. A favorite – Green Tailed Towhee – came close to check me out so I was able to see his colors nicely.
Green Tailed Towhee
Williamson’s Sapsucker – Juvenile
One of the highlights of this hike was seeing lots of mushrooms. I’ve seen photos of the red and white polka dot mushrooms, but never have seen one in person. It was a real treat seeing and photographing them. 🙂
Poisonous mushroom – but so pretty!
Aspen Vista is a beautiful hike at about 8,000 feet above sea level. As you know Scarlett loves water. But she also loves culverts. She’s always looking inside them to see what might be hiding. On this hike, she found a culvert that was big enough to run through and it had water flowing through it. Bonus!
Scarlett having a blast!
I walked along the Rio Grande several times. Most of the colorful summer birds love the Bosque. It’s so much fun looking for and photographing these beauties!
Great Blue Heron
Broad-Tailed Hummingbird enjoying the summer mimosa blooms!
House Finch – partial orange morph
One day while hiking along the river, I came across a Cooper’s Hawk enjoying breakfast. You could tell it had caught a songbird by the foot hanging out of it’s beak. Poor thing….
Songbird for breakfast anyone???
While reviewing my photos, I realized I had captured a lifer bird on one of my outings along the river. I love it when that happens! In this case, I had mistaken it for a Summer Tanager. But when I reviewed the photo more closely, I realized it was a Hepatic Tanager. Yay!!!
Of course, Scarlett always enjoys a visit to the river!
Look at that big grin on Scarlett’s face!
One day I took a drive out to Stanley. I hadn’t been there for quite some time. I saw a lot of the usual residents there. I never tire seeing a Western Meadowlark or the many hawks that live there. 🙂
Red-Tailed Hawk (juvenile) – I love the coloring of this particular bird
Around home I’ve had several new birds visit my yard this summer. It’s so exciting to see something new show up. I hope they find me again next year! Some were easy to photograph, while others were very elusive. The birds I was unable to photograph but saw were Yellow-Headed Blackbird, Brown-Headed Blackbird, Northern Saw-Whet Owl, and Green-Tailed Towhee.
I love their orange eyes.
Along with the new birds I’ve seen this year, I’ve had plenty of the resident birds stopping by the feeders and bird baths.
A very shy Ladderback Woodpecker (hence the blurry photo)
Wilson’s Warbler – coming to enjoy my bird bath
Holding down a sunflower seed to extract its goodness.
This summer New Mexico saw several forest fires in the Jemez Mountains. Because of this, a lot of the bird life has migrated south to new habitats. This summer we saw a large number of Lewis’s Woodpeckers in the greater Albuquerque area. We normally don’t see them here, so it was a real treat to see one only a couple miles from my house. It seemed to prefer this telephone pole as it was sighted there often. And it didn’t like the squirrel using its pole.
Get off my pole!!!
I drove down to the Monzano Mountains a couple weeks ago hoping to see the fall colors starting in 4th of July Canyon. Though the colors still haven’t begun, I did get to see several birds.