Birding in Southern New Mexico – Part 2

The next morning of our anniversary trip we drove our ATVs for about 30 minutes to get to a lucky gold spot for my husband.  Unfortunately, we can’t ride the ATVs all the way to the location he likes to prospect so we had to hike for another 30 minutes.

On the way to our destination I came around a bend and saw a beautiful Red-Tailed Hawk in the top of a tree.   He was at the max range of my lens but I managed to get a pretty good photo.

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Red-Tailed Hawk

After a full exciting day in the sun the day before, I wasn’t looking forward to spending another day in the sun. So I parked myself under a big shade tree and birded while sitting down.  Lazy right?!  LOL! But it was great because none of the birds wanted to be in the sun either and the shade is sparse.  So my spot was quite popular with the area birds.

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Cactus Wren

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Canyon Towhee

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Cactus Wren

While relaxing in the shade, I was full entertained by a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet.  The day before at Caballo Lake I saw quite a few of them but didn’t get any photos as they were staying high up in the foliage.

Well, I was rewarded this day by a very tame male.  At first he didn’t like me being so close to his tree.  He started scolding me and raised his ruby crown.  I didn’t get any photos of him posturing in the sun to really show off that ruby crown.  But I am still pleased with the shots I did get.

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Ruby-Crowned Kinglet – my first shot of him scolding me

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Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

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Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Eventually he settled down and got used to me.  Pretty soon he was foraging all around me within a foot.  I could have reached out and touched him.  I took full advantage of this opportunity and took as many photos and videos as I could. He was happily singing the whole time. I loved that little bird!

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Ruby-Crowned Kinglet. You can really see his beautiful markings on his back.

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Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

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Ruby-Crowned Kinglet. I think he was curious of me. He would land very close to me and look at me before going back to foraging.

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Ruby-Crowned Kinglet – my favorite photo I took of him. He was so close to me that I almost couldn’t get a photo with my zoom lens.

On the walk back to the ATVs I spotted several variety of butterflies.

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Note sure what this one is. Only photo I got.

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Acmon Blue

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Common Buckeye

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Orange Skipperling – I was able to get a better shot of this tiny fast butterfly!

And yes…my husband did find some gold!

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My husband metal detecting

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The nuggets he found that day

We had a wonderful time enjoying nature together and enjoying the hot spring soaks in the evening.  We needed the break together as work has been extremely busy.  It was a very fun weekend!

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The End! 🙂

Birding in Southern New Mexico – Part 1

Wow…October was a very busy month for me.  All throughout the year I didn’t realize I was scheduling everything in October.  I had something planned for practically every weekend!

So the last time I posted it was the first weekend of October and I was in Denver.  I called it Part 1.  I will write Part 2 soon, but I just had to skip to the second weekend in October.  Every year my husband and I go to Truth or Consequences (TorC) for our Anniversary.  We ride our ATVs and he hunts for gold and I go exploring and birding.  This year was our 19th anniversary! (For our 20th I want to change things up and do an Alaskan cruise…..)

Anyway…we left later on Friday than we originally planned so didn’t get to explore a box canyon my husband told me about in the area.  I guess we will save that for next time we visit the area.  So I talked him into stopping at Elephant Butte Lake on the way to TorC.  I was hoping to see some birds there as the fall migration has begun.  We stopped a marina and saw right away lots of Western Grebes.  One was looking down and all around him.  So I was curious what he was doing.

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Western Grebe

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Western Grebe

And I was able to catch a funny photo.  This grebe looks like it has a fish tail.  🙂  The carp in the lake are very large and this one must have been biting at the grebe’s feet.

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Western Grebe with carp under him 🙂

The dock master saw me taking photos and came over.  I asked him if he had seen any Clark’s Grebes.  This would be a new bird for me.  He said he has seen them but they tend to stay out on the lake and not near the shore.  He said a rental boat was coming in shortly and if we wanted to wait for it he would take us out on the lake to the grebes.  Of course I happily agreed to wait.  I thought that was very kind of him to offer.

And sure enough there were lots of Clark’s Grebes out away from the shore.  I was so excited to see them!  My husband said he couldn’t tell the difference of these from the ones at the dock.  So I explained that the Western Grebes have black on their heads that go down to the eye while the Clark’s have white around the eye.

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Clark’s Grebe

While at the lake I enjoyed seeing a couple of American Coots snooping around the dock and a very tame Ring-Billed Gull.

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American Coot

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Ring-Billed Gull

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Neotropic Cormorant

When we got to TorC we decided to walk down to the park along the Rio Grande River.  There’s a pond there that sometimes has water and with all the rain we’ve had this year that pond was pretty full.  We had fun looking for all the pretty green frogs coming to the shoreline to sun themselves.  I had hoped to see some birds in the cattails but no luck. But we did see several birds along the river’s edge.

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I’m guessing, but I think this is a Northern Leopard Frog

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Great Blue Heron…love the knobby knees

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White-Winged Dove

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Pied-Billed Grebe

The next day we headed to Caballo Lake for the day.  Now in the past I have said how I hated the Caballo Mountains as they are just hot, dry, and full of plants with thorns.  It’s an awful place.  Well….I changed my mind once I got my own ATV.  I could now explore to my heart’s content without getting stabbed every 5 steps!

I started my day exploring around the shore of the lake.  I usually see quite a few birds in the cottonwood trees at the lake shore.  I wasn’t dissappointed.  On my way to the shore I saw a whole bunch of Yellow-Rumped Warblers.  They were so pretty foraging in a field of yellow flowers.  I stood very still and eventually they ignored me and I was able to get good close-up photos of them.

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler.  Here you get a good look at that yellow rump!

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler I especially liked this photo as you get the yellow flowers blurred in the background.

After spending a good while enjoying the warblers I made my way to the beach.  There I saw lots of Ruby-Crowned Kinglets but couldn’t get any decent photos as they wanted to stay high up in the trees.  But I did manage to get a Verdin.  These birds are so cute.

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Verdin

While at the lake shore some bushes were blooming that drew in lots of bees and a few butterflies.

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Queen

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Tarantula Hawk Wasp.  These guys actually catch tarantulas for their young

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I believe this is a blue-winged wasp.

While at the shore I saw a variety of birds including one very shy Red-Naped Sapsucker and a couple of Turkey Vultures eating something that had been dead so long it looked like leather.

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Snowy Egrets

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Chipping Sparrow in winter plumage

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Turkey Vulture…ugly aren’t they?

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Red-Naped Sapsucker

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Scaled Quail…these guys were fast!

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White-Crowned Sparrow

I then headed to an arroyo that I enjoy visiting.  It has a natural waterfall that flows when it rains.  We have had a lot of moisture this year and the waterfall did have a trickle of water running down it.  This usually brings in some nice birds.  I did see a rock wren and one of my favorite birds, the Black-Throated Sparrow.

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Rock Wren

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Black-Throated Sparrow

I also saw my first American Snout butterfly.  It landed on my ATV as if saying “here i am!”

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American Snout

After exploring the natural waterfall area, I started heading back to find my husband and see if he found any gold.  I stopped along the way to try and photograph a butterfly that had landed in the road in front of me.  I had turned off my ATV so it was quiet.  As I was focusing in on that butterfly I heard rocks tumbling down the steep side of the arroyo.  I thought maybe it was cows as I see them often on these sloped sides foraging.  But I didn’t see any cows.  I kept hearing one or two rocks tumbling and I was starting to get creeped out.  Then suddenly I saw what was making the rocks move.  Big Horn Sheep!!!!!!

I slowly walked toward them so I could get some photos.  They were just beautiful! I was so excited to see not only a ram with ewes but a young one too!  I took a bunch of photos in hopes of a few good ones.  They knew I was there but grazed for awhile.  I kept creeping closer and eventually they decided to move on.  I will never forget the first time I saw these majestic animals.  I wasn’t expecting to see them so it was an amazing surprise!

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In this photo you can see how they are easily overlooked. They blend right in to the scenery. One of the ewes had a radio collar on.

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Big Horn Sheep – mother with a young one

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Big Horn Sheep

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Big Horn Sheep Ram – beautiful!

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Big Horn Sheep

DSC_1780I couldn’t wait to meet up with my husband to tell him what I saw! And he did find some gold 🙂

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Can you see the flake of gold? Personally, I have no idea how he sees those small pieces!

While watching him search for gold I captured a couple more butterflies that day.

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Black Swallowtail

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Common Checkered Skipper

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Orange Skipperling – this guy was super tiny and quick!

On the way back to the hotel that evening we saw some deer foraging in the fields.  Always a beautiful sight.

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Mule deer – doe and buck

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Common Raven

Birding from Albuquerque to San Antonio and Back

Last August I drove to San Antonio to visit my parents.  Life has been busy and I’m late on posting.

I wasn’t sure how well the birding opportunities would be as it was the middle of August.  But I was surprised at how successful I was at seeing a variety of birds…several of which were new birds for me.  I realized quickly that it was soooo dry in Texas that if I birded in areas where there was water I was sure to get something.

I decided this trip to break it up into two-day drives coming and going.  In the past I would drive the entire 12-13 hours in one day.  I’d be exhausted by the time I got to my destination.  It was a much better choice to drive half way and rest.  Plus it afforded me opportunities to stop and bird and let Scarlett get out and stretch her legs and play in some water.

This was Scarlett’s first road trip and she did great!

On the highway outside of Fort Sumner I happened to see a Swainson’s Hawk perched nicely in a dead tree.  I can never resist photographing birds of prey.

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Swainson’s Hawk

I’m so glad I decided to stop and take a few pics.  Because in that same tree was a Common Nighthawk! I have seen them in flight many times but never had to opportunity to photograph one.  So I was excited to see this one so close.  🙂

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Common Nighthawk

On the way to San Antonio I decided to drive to Lubbock, Texas, and stay the night there.  I had seen on the internet that there was an arboretum there.  Now how many of you think of a nice, lush garden area when you hear the word “arboretum”?  Well…the arboretum at Lubbock was a huge disappointment.  Maybe at one time it was nice, but not now.  The wildflower garden was way out of control but did give me a few butterflies to photograph.

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Bordered Patch

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Painted Lady

The only highlight of the arboretum besides the butterflies was a family of Mississippi Kites.  They were determined to stay in the tops of the trees, but I did manage to catch one decent photo.

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Mississippi Kite

The next morning I was determined to find someplace on the way out of town that would be much nicer to bird.  I decided to check out Buffalo Springs Lake outside of Lubbock.  What a great choice!  A beautiful community with lots of water around and full of birds.

The drive from the highway to the lake wound through grasslands and I got a new bird.  I’ve heard Northern Bobwhite many times in the past but never got a photo.  And for those of you that know me well, I only count birds on my list if I managed to get a photo (even a crappy one! LOL!).

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Northern Bobwhite

I also got to watch a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher getting breakfast.  He was a ways away but I did manage to get a halfway decent shot of him in flight.  First time I’ve seen the red patch on their wings.  It’s usually hidden when the wings are folded.

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Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher

There was a nice group of Cassin’s Sparrows but they were very shy.  I managed to get one shot before they all dove into the deep grasses.

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Cassin’s Sparrow

Scarlett was happy that she got to have a morning splash in the lake before hitting the road for another 6-7 hours.  From Buffalo Springs I took a little side road to connect to the main highway instead of backtracking.  I’m so glad I did!  The drive was wonderful because of the acres and acres of stunning sunflowers!

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Giant Sunflowers outside of Lubbock, TX

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Facing the early morning sun

While staying in San Antonio I had heard about this place called Warbling Woods.  It’s a privately owned residence on several acres.  The owners are bird lovers and have created a beautiful bird sanctuary that visitors can come and enjoy.  I got to go for a couple of hours one morning.  Nothing of note really except for hearing a Dickcissel – a new bird for me.  Sadly I didn’t get a photo so he couldn’t get added to my list.

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Black-Crested Titmouse

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Summer Tanager – Female

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Carolina Wren

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Northern Cardinal – Female

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Inca Dove

I did get one butterfly at the Warbling Woods location.

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Gulf Fritillary

The weather was in the 100+ degrees and the humidity was extremely high.  So it wasn’t the best weather for birding.

On the way home I took a different route.  I drove to Roswell, NM.  I wanted to check out the Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge.  On the way out of San Antonio I stopped at a little park to let Scarlett run around before hitting the road for several hours.  I’m glad I chose that little park because it had a small pond.  Since Texas had been extremely dry for several weeks, this little pond was a big draw for birds.

While Scarlett played in the water I was fortunate to get several new birds.

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Louisiana Waterthrush – a new bird!

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Miss Scarlett relaxing after her swim

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Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher – yup! Another new bird!

Just as I was turning to leave I saw something larger fly overhead and land at the far end of the pond.  I was so excited to see it was a Little Blue Heron! Another new bird for me!

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Little Blue Heron

I would have loved to stay at that pond for several hours but I had to hit the road.  It was going to be a long day of driving.  Just outside of Fort Stockton I needed to get gas.  I couldn’t make it to the town so stopped at a little station in the middle of nowhere about 50 miles from Fort Stockton.  It was the middle of the day and 107 degrees!  I needed to let Scarlett out to do her business.  While she was doing that I noticed quite a lot of birds hanging out around a transformer on a pole.  It was the only decent bit of shade! The birds looked just miserable!

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Bullock’s Oriole – Female

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Northern Mockingbird

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Pyrrhuloxia

Back on the road I drove up through Carlsbad, NM.  I decided to stop at a little lake called Lake Avalon as ebird was showing several sightings there.  It was a very wild lake…more of a reservoir instead of a place for people to come picnic.  So the vegetation was thick and the roads around it terrible.  But I did manage to find one road navigable by my car and made it to the lake’s edge.  It was so hot Scarlett and I were only able to walk around for about 15 minutes before we dove into the car for max A/C!

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Scarlett cooling off at Lake Avalon

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Western Kingbird hitting a grasshopper on a limb

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Bullock’s Oriole – Female

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Western Kingbird – panting in the heat!

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Killdeer

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Greater Roadrunner

While sitting in the car getting ready to leave I heard an unusual bird call coming from the only two cottonwood trees in the area.  They were a magnet for lots of birds but pretty far away so was difficult to get photos.  But I was determined to figure out what was calling in that tree that I didn’t recognize.  I finally got a glimpse of it flying from one branch to another.  Quickly snapped a photo and zoomed in.  And saw it was a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo! A new bird for me!

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Yellow-Billed Cuckoo – I believe it’s a juvenile as it’s bill has lots of black

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I thought this photo looked like a watercolor painting

The next morning I got up very early (before sunrise!) and drove to Bitter Lake.  There wasn’t much water there so not many water birds around.  But on ebird there had been sightings of a Snowy Plover and that would be a new bird for me.  Needless to say I was excited to see one as soon as I got there.  The light was poor and the bird at a distance but I did manage to get a decent enough pic for my book.

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Snowy Plover

The refuge was a peaceful place to walk Scarlett and enjoy the sunrise and cool air.

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Scarlett enjoying the walk at Bitter Lake

While walking I saw a pair of raccoons go running past me.  Those guys can run!  As it was very early sunrise my camera just couldn’t get a sharp pic as they were moving so fast.  Briefly one stopped (sort of) so I grabbed a quick pic.

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Very fast racoons!

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Glad one paused for a quick look back

There were Scaled Quail everywhere and lots of Meadowlarks singing.  I can see how this would be a great place to visit for birding at other times of the year.  I will have to see if I can visit again in the spring.

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Scaled Quail

We finally made it home but the excitement didn’t stop.  I had to drive all the way into town and pic up photos for the State Fair photo contest and get them submitted that day.  But it was worth the effort and extra driving time.  I won an Honorable Mention ribbon for my Burrowing Owl photo 🙂

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Burrowing Owl

I was surprised at how good the birding was for me for a late hot summer trip!

This and That

The last couple of weeks I didn’t go on any trips or outings.  Work has been busy and Miss Scarlett still can’t go out on trails. So I spent most of my time at home or at my friend Valerie’s house.

The birds around my home have been busy raising their young. I have several food and water sources so I have quite a variety of birds.

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Black-headed Grosbeak

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Hairy Woodpecker with its offspring

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Hairy Woodpecker...he tries to bathe in this fountain every morning

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Bewick Wren

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Chipping Sparrow

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Canyon Towhee

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Common Raven

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Even my bantam game hen had babies. Look closely and you will see the chick breaking open its shell

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One of the babies...only a few hours old!

I was hoping to see birds at Valerie’s. She lives in Placitas. I didn’t see any birds but got to enjoy a fabulous sunset.

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Cabezon peak in the distance

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Sage blooms in sunset

My gardens are doing well at home. The blooms are bringing in quite a variety of insects.

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This shot reminds me of some kung fu movie 🙂

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Cool teal colored bee...even its eyes

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Juniper Hairstreak

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Mourning Cloak just emerged from its chrysalis... We had no idea it was there right above the front door!

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Gray Hairstreak

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Colorado hairstreak

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Painted Lady

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Orange Skipperling

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Russet Skipperling...OK...I'm guessing on the name of this one lol!

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Weidemeyer's Admiral

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Mourning Cloak

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First day lilly bloom in my yard

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While walking Scarlett around the neighborhood I’ve enjoyed some wonderful wildlife.

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Mule deer buck...look close to see velvet antlers coming in.

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Mule deer

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So even though I didn’t go on any trips…I am very much enjoying this wonderful summer.

Annual Butterfly Count in Las Vegas, NM

Last Sunday I met up with my butterfly friends to attend the only annual butterfly count held in New Mexico. The weather has been extremely hot in Albuquerque so I was looking forward to heading north to more normal June temperatures.

The drive there takes about 2 hours and it goes right past one of my favorite birding spots…Valley Irrigation Road in Moriarty. So I left a little early so I could drive down this road.

I hadn’t been down that road for a few weeks. I was surprised to see the Otto Pond migrant trap had tripled in size. I could hear several variety of shore birds but couldn’t see them. But a Great Blue Heron was very close by and lots of doves.

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Great Blue Heron

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Mourning Dove

Since not much else was out I hit the road.  Taking Highway 41 is always a pretty drive. Saw a beautiful prong horn antelope and wide open scenery.

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Ortiz Mountains in the distance

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Church at Galisteo

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Prong Horn Antelope

We were to meet at a location north of Las Vegas called Montezuma. I’d never been there before. It was a beautiful place with lots of water and lush vegetation.

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Canada Goose

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After everyone met up we were divided up to cover more ground. My group opted for the higher elevations. First we stopped at a campground that is closed for repairs…which was great because we were the only people that were there. We got quite a variety and number of butterflies there.  We started out walking together but soon spread out.

I was ahead of Joe and Rebecca by a ways and was searching the stream and grasses on my right not paying attention to my left. All of a sudden I caught my breath because I had just disturbed about 20 swallowtail butterflies and they all flew up around me.  I quickly called out “Joe!” He came running up just in time to see them land back on the road. It was so beautiful that he ran back and got Rebecca.

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Western Tiger Swallowtail

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Two-Tailed Swallowtail

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Mexican Yellow

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Western Pine Elfin

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Northern Crescent

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Painted Lady

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Hoary Comma

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Hoary Comma

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Pacuvius Duskywing

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Silvery Checkerspot

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Margined White

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Northern Cloudywing

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Weidemeyer’s Admiral

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Echo Azure

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Northern Crescent

  When we were heading back to the car I heard all this noise in the brush and could see the bushes swaying like something huge was headed my way. I immediately thought “bear!” and my adrenalin kicked in…but then I saw the culprit. Thank God it was a horse!

DSC_6186Next we headed up to Johnson Mesa which is at an altitude of 9,467 feet above sea level. It was a gorgeous location. Thunderstorms were close by but fortunately never came over us.

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Joe and Rebecca searching the meadow for butterflies

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Selfie 🙂

DSC_2413But because there were more clouds and cooler temperatures there were a lot fewer butterflies flying. We combed the mesa looking for butterflies in the grasses and were rewarded with a few.

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Common Alpine

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Common Ringlet

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Common Checkered Skipper

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Painted Crescent

Throughout the day I looked for birds but they were scarce. But on the way down from Johnson Mesa we saw about six male Evening Grosbeak feeding on the side of the road. Gorgeous birds!

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Evening Grosbeak

At this point I left Joe and Rebecca and headed to Sapello to see a client for a signature. Since Sapello was still considered in the radius of our day I took some time to search for butterflies there. On the way to Sapello I did get a pretty good pic of a magpie. They had been eluding me all day. And I saw a Yellow-Breasted Chat land not 5 feet from me…but no chance to get a pic…..dang it!

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Black-Billed Magpie

By the time I made it to Sapello it was late afternoon. I couldn’t stay long but I still found a few butterflies to add to the count as well as a few fun photos.

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Silvery Checkerspot

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Red-Winged Blackbird – female

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Cloudy Sulphur – mating! 🙂

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Old Convent

DSC_6423 DSC_6398 DSC_6395Overall a very long day by the time I drove two hours back home. But I had a wonderful time and definitely added quite a few new species to my butterfly list!

Birding in Southern New Mexico

My husband and I had another opportunity to go to Truth or Consequences, NM, for a weekend before it just gets too hot to visit.  We love to get out and go four-wheeling and explore the countryside.  As it’s still spring I was hopeful for some good birding opportunities.

Last Saturday we went to Caballo Lake for the day.  It was forcasted for sunshine but windy.  Wow…it got very windy.  My husband loves to prospect for gold.  So while he went to a favorite canyon, I headed out to bird along the roads and around the lake.  I was able to bird for about 2 hours in the morning but even then it was blowing pretty good.  I mostly saw Black-Throated Sparrows and a variety of flycatchers.  I was amazed even in that wind that they were able to pluck bugs out of the air with ease.

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Western Wood-Pewee

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Least Flycatcher

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Black-Throated Sparrows Adult above and softly colored juvenile below

As the morning progressed it got extremely windy.  So I headed back to the truck and took a nice long nap.  Upon waking I realized the wind had died down.  So I jumped back on the four-wheeler and headed out.  I remember last time I was there I saw my first Pyrrhuloxia in a specific canyon. So I decided to head back in that canyon for a second try as my first photos were barely discernible.  And I was quickly rewarded with a sighting.  And I got some good pics too!

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Pyrrhuloxia

Heading back to the truck I saw a few hummingbirds hanging out in a blooming tree.  I managed to get a pic of a couple of them.

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Black-chinned hummingbirds

The views of the mountains and lake were beautiful.  I love photographing vistas.

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Caballo Mountains

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Caballo Lake

The next morning I saw the hotel owner filling the bird feeders in the front garden area.  The birds must be used to the routine because as soon as they saw him they all came flying in.  I got a few good pics before we headed out for another day of fun.

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Lesser Goldfinch

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House Sparrow

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House Finch

On Sunday we headed to the hills around Hillsboro, New Mexico.  As I’ve said before, they are like night and day from the Caballo Mountains and they aren’t that far away from each other.  I love the more lush landscape and fewer cactus.  Plus there’s more historical items left behind to investigate.

DSC_0539The morning weather was beautiful…calm, slightly overcast, cool.  The lighting was perfect for photos.  As soon as we parked our four-wheelers to hike up a particular canyon, I saw a Scaled Quail calling from atop a bush.  I even video taped him singing.

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Scaled Quail

As my husband began prospecting for gold, I started hiking, birding and butterflying 🙂

I was rewarded by a sighting of a Macgillivray’s Warbler.  I then saw the female and found their nest.  Took a quick pic of the nest and then moved on so as not to disturb them.  I managed to get one photo of the male.  They stayed deep in the foliage.

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Macgillivray’s Warbler

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Macgillivray’s Warbler nest

I had a great day birding.  Because it was cooler the birds were active all day.  While eating my lunch I sat beneath a shade tree and was entertained by a pair of Say’s Phoebes who were busy all day feeding their babies.  They picked a very unusual location for their nest.  There is an old well in the area and the birds have figured out how to dive into it for a drink.  The Phoebes have built their nest down in that well.  They were busy catching bugs, landing on the barbed wire surrounding the well, and then diving in to feed their babies.

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Say’s Phoebe with butterfly for the babies. Maybe Joe can identify this butterfly for me 😉

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Old Well that birds fly down to drink. The Phoebes have a nest down there and loved perching on the barbed wire before diving down the well.

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Western Tanager coming in for a drink at the well. And this photo is SOOC for those photographers out there 😉

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Summer Tanager Female

Because the winds were calm I was able to get several photos of butterflies.

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Dainty Sulpher

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Mexican Yellow is the butterfly with the white open wings. The other butterfly with the orange inside is a Sleepy Orange.

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Acmon Blue

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Orange Skipperling

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Gray Hairstreak – it must have just emerged because it was sitting and rubbing its wings and was unwilling to fly.

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Marine Blue

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Small Checkered Skipper

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Mexican Cloudywing

The views in Hillsboro were very nice this trip.

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Walls left from an old building. This was a pretty large structure for the area.

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Unique cloud formations.

DSC_2234 DSC_2248On our way back to our four wheelers we scared a bird off the nest which was located in a small, skinny bush not 3 feet high.  Didn’t see the bird as it flew off in a flash so not sure what species the eggs are.  Then, as we were riding our four wheelers back to the truck Tim came very close to a dove’s nest.  The parent went flying off acting injured to lure us away.  When we investigated we found two babies.  It was a close call because the four wheeler tracks went to each side of the nest.  I’m so glad we didn’t run over them.

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Baby doves

DSC_2255During our trip we saw quite a variety of lizards.  I have always enjoyed watching lizards.  Many of these were not scared of me and let me take some good pics.

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Common Checkered Whiptail

DSC_0544 DSC_0609 DSC_9804It was a relaxing weekend with lots of photo opportunities and long soaks in the hot springs at night….wonderful

Hiking the Domingo Baca Trail, Sandia Mountains, NM

This year I have decided to take every opportunity to re-explore the trails in the Sandia Mountains.  I have always enjoyed exploring the varied trails and am looking forward to seeing some favorites as well as some new ones.

I haven’t hiked the Domingo Baca trail in over 10 years.  I went with friends to see the airplane crash then.  It was a tough hike but well worth the effort.  This time I only went as far as the spring as I was by myself.

The weather this spring has been cool and rainy.  The view of the Sandia Mountains was very beautiful the morning I set out.  It had rained during the night and the clouds were still hovering along the peaks.  The air was cool and crisp and the views of Albuquerque were amazing.  I was wishing I had my polarized filter for better pics.

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City of Albuquerque

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I didn’t see too many birds or butterflies but managed to get a few shots.  The highlight was seeing a Cooper’s Hawk building a nest in one of the cottonwood trees in the Elena Gallegos picnic area.  He was a little too far way for a good pic but it was exciting to see him nonetheless.  He flew over me a couple times during the hike as well.

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Cooper’s Hawk

I heard several blue-gray gnatcatchers in the trees and bushes while I hiked.  I managed to get a couple of nice pics of them even though they are so small and quick!

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Blue-gray gnatcatcher

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Black-Chinned Hummingbird

I finally made it to the spring.  It was flowing very nicely since we’ve had a lot of rain.  It was so nice to sit and relax and enjoy the sound of flowing water (a rarity here in NM).  The signs of spring growth were a cheery sight.  I am so ready for warm weather!

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I don’t know what this growth is on the tree. I’ve never seen anything like it before. It was in patches all over and such a bright orange!

DSC_2068 DSC_2057 DSC_2839 On the way back down the trail I heard the tram overhead and managed to get a quick pic before it disappeared into the clouds above.  I saw several butterflies and was able to get pics as they weren’t flying to energetically in the cooler weather.

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Painted Lady

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Mormon Metalmark

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Hmmm….maybe Joe and help me identify this one. He says “they’re easy!” uh….I don’t think so LOL!

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No clue yet what this one is either. I can definitely tell I’m a beginner butterfly enthusiast. I will have to spend some time thumbing through my book to identify some of my finds.

I really enjoyed revisiting the Domingo Baca canyon.  I’m not sure why I stayed away so long…..

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Four-Wheeling in the Hills around Truth or Consequences, New Mexico – Sunday

Sunday we went across I-25 to Hillsboro.  I love these hills.  While the area around Caballo Lake is dry, full of thorns, hot, inhospitable…need I go on….Hillsboro is the complete opposite.  It’s lush in comparison.  Native grasses, lots of wildflowers, birds aplenty, trees, a nice cool breeze and very few thorns.

We hiked up a canyon that has a well at the end.  The old timers used it to mine gold.  Now the birds know to swoop down into this deep well for a drink.

We had a great day exploring the canyon.  But as the day progressed it became very cloudy and cold.  I was sunburned so felt even colder.  But it was still a fun day.  No new birds but enjoyed seeing some of my favorites.  I saw and/or heard 20 different species this day. I also got several butterflies and a cute little tiny round beetle…I mean tiny! The wildflowers were varied and aplenty.  And we even saw a bull snake!

Was a very fun weekend together!

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Rock Wren

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Desert Spider Beetle

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Doesn’t this bone look like a human skull?? Made me take a second look when I first saw it! 😐

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Say’s Phoebe

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Brewer’s Sparrow

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Chipping Sparrow

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White-Crowned Sparrow

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Black-Throated Sparrow

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Four-Wheeling in hills around Truth or Consequences, New Mexico – Saturday

This past weekend my husband and I went south to go four-wheeling in the hills around Caballo Lake and around Hillsboro, New Mexico.  The weather was typical spring…warm and sunny on Saturday and cloudy and cold on Sunday.  But we still had a lot of fun.

Saturday we spent the day exploring the Caballo Lake area.  I was amazed at the variety of birds around.  I heard and/or saw 28 different birds.  It was fabulous! There were lots of wildflowers blooming…lizards sunning themselves….birds singing away…and butterfies floating on the breeze.  A wonderful day for enjoying one of nature’s beautiful spring days.

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Caballo Lake

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Caballo Mountain

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American Pipit

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Snowy Egret

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Ash-Throated Flycatcher

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Wilson’s Warbler

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler

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Western Kingbird

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Red-Tailed Hawks

I got a new bird on – a pyrrhuloxia! I have been hunting for this bird for 3 years! I finally saw a pair of them.  But they didn’t cooperate at all…dang it.  The only photos I managed to get was facing into the noon day sun and zoomed to the max.  Terrible photo….but it counts!

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Pyrrhuloxia – Finally! Now my goal is to get a much better photo someday.

I saw several lizards around.  They were thoroughly enjoying the sunshine.

And I got several pretty butterflies!  I’ve included the prettier ones.  🙂 DSC_0091 DSC_0086 DSC_0170 I don’t know the names of them yet.  I’m waiting for a butterfly identification book.

The highlight of the day was seeing a pair of Red-Tailed Hawks together in a nest.  I managed to capture a photo of one of the hawks leaving the nest carrying a mouse.  It was really cool to watch them together.

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Ojito de San Antonio Open Space

Yesterday I went to check out a couple of open spaces in the East Mountain area that I had not been to before.

I first visited the Ojito de San Antonio Open Space off North 14.  It used to be an old orchard watered by acequias built in the 1800s. There at still plum and apple trees there but it has become more wild.  A nice trail runs through the orchard and then starts climbing.  There were lots of birds in the orchard area.

I arrived early in the morning for best birding opportunities.  I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of birds I saw and heard there. That morning I identified the following species:

Cedar Waxwing, Canyon Towhee, Western Bluebird, Dark-Eyed Junco, Mountain Chickadee, Juniper Titmouse, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, American Robin, Say’s Phoebe, Chipping Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, Cassin’s Finch, Bewick’s Wren, Pine Siskin, Common Raven, Stellar Jay and Western Scrub Jay.

Most of them I was unable to get a decent photo.  But I did get a very nice pic of a Spotted Towhee singing at the top of a blooming plum tree.

I hiked up the trail a ways but there really wasn’t much bird activity after the orchard area.  So I decided to head back to the car and check out Carlito Springs.  My friend had told me about just before winter hit and I had been looking forward to seeing it.

I really enjoyed it there.  A pleasant climb up to an old spa retreat area.  No birds really but the scenery is unique and lush.  I will include photos in a different post.

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Say’s Phoebe

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Western Bluebird

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Dark-Eyed Junco

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Chipping Sparrow

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Spotted Towhee

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San Antonio Church located at the beginning of the hike.

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Canyon Towhee

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Common Raven

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