New birds and butterflies for the year on just about every outing recently, weather’s warming up, and things are greening up for Spring. Finally got my first Pfizer shot, too, so this year just gets better and better every day. Note that it seems WordPress has modified their editor which is new to me. Since starting this blog I’ve always used their “Classic” editor and was able to modify the underlying HTML if needed and this post will be my first test of the new editor.
Embudito Canyon is probably my most visited spot since it’s close to home and good for both birds and butterflies. Several rock formations in the canyon regularly catch my eye, but this is the only one I’ve photographed (still practicing with my new Sony RX-10iv camera). It’s rather large, but doubtful it was carved by anything but the forces of Nature.
Later that afternoon, an email from a friend described a Western Screech-Owl seen in a cavity in the Corrales bosque. Most unusual was his photo of not one, but two, owls in the same cavity, so I headed down there a short while later to take a look. I soon found the cavity following his excellent directions, but as you’ll note from the following picture such specific directions were quite helpful.
Here’s a closer view of the owl.
The next day, Rebecca and I did the Atrisco Bosque trail to show her the Great Horned Owls I mentioned in my last post and to explore the area a bit more. The female was still in the nest high in the trees, and the male was close to where he was first seen but not as out in the open as the first time.
A couple of days later was my first visit in years on the opposite (east) side of the Rio Grande from the Atrisco Bosque trail. Since my last visit a very nice trail has been constructed along the river that was a delight to walk and I’m sure to return more frequently. Just at the start, a bird was regularly repeating a song that I wasn’t familiar with. Turned out to be a Northern Flicker of all things.
Later, I’d see several Snowy Egrets flying together downriver, the first of that species I’d seen this year. And then moments later, I came upon three of them on a small sand bank close to the trail. This photo shows two of them with a female Mallard there on the left.
Off to the Tingley bosque ponds next, in an old nest that a few years ago was used by a Great Horned Owl I noticed was again occupied. Given the time of year, I assumed it was most likely an owl again, but the tail (and a nearby male drawing my attention) confirmed it to be a Cooper’s Hawk.
A little later high in a cottonwood by the northern pond was this Osprey.
Another visit to Embudito the next day gave me a good look at the Ladder-backed Woodpecker seen working on a nest cavity for the last couple of weeks.
While I watched from a fair distance away, he came out of the hole and worked his way to the top of the (dead) tree to take a look around.
A few days later, I went back to the Corrales bosque to first find that the Western Screech-Owl was still present, and then to check on the progress of the nesting Great Horned Owl in generally the same area. It had been more than a month since they’d started nesting and I hadn’t been there very often since the female was usually hidden deep in the cavity. This time, however, you could just see the top of her head as she peeked out at me.
The male was also visible, but had moved to a different tree than I’d usually seen him in earlier this year.
Early this week, at Three Gun Spring I met up with some folks from Colorado who’d asked if I’d help them find a Sandia Hairstreak. Never a sure thing, it was a relief to spot one at almost the first Texas Beargrass we found, and then to see at least a dozen more as we made our way up the trail.
We’d later see a few Southwestern Orangetips and five Spring Whites, my first of the year for the latter.
Another surprise came a few days later, when Rebecca and I were checking out the trail to Bill Spring. This time it was the first Thicket Hairstreak for the year, a species that didn’t seem too common the last several years and one that I’ve been wanting a better photo. Seems pretty early in the year to be seeing one, too, but I was quite satisfied with the photo.
We’d also been checking out the area between Balsam Glade and Capulin Springs for butterfly surveys later in the year, when Rebecca spotted a pair of Band-tailed Pigeons pretty far away. A bird that (at least for me) usually flies off the instant it notices people, it was good to get a reasonable look at them.
This morning, a quick stop to check in on the Great Horned Owl nesting near Calabacillas Arroyo for the first time in a month found the female sitting up and more visible than a month ago, a possible sign that her little ones have hatched and are starting to grow.
Then without any real expectations of finding one, I walked around Boca Negra Canyon where owls had nested a couple years ago on a ledge on the basaltic cliffs. Didn’t find any owls, but had fun watching a couple of Greater Roadrunners thinking about starting a family and caught one of them in flight off the top of the cliff with a stick to add to the nest site.