For years, I’ve been meaning to visit the Randall Davey Audubon Center just outside of Santa Fe but never quite got around to it until last week’s Thursday Birder trip. Before heading off on our bird walk, Rebecca had arranged for us to meet Steve Cary, the top lepidopterist in New Mexico and author of our go-to guide, Butterfly Landscapes of New Mexico, who works part time at the Audubon Center. He and Matt had been in contact recently helping to identify several of the butterflies we’ve been seeing, and Steve has been quite helpful as the regional verification expert for our area at butterfliesandmoths.org. We certainly enjoyed meeting him and are hoping he’ll join us on one of our butterfly quests next summer. Interestingly, he reports seeing 56 species right there at Randall Davey.
Not too birdy as expected, but we got great looks at our target Clark’s Nutcracker, Townsend’s Solitaires, a Brown Creeper, several Pygmy and White-breasted Nuthatches, a distant Peregrine Falcon, some jays, a few woodpeckers, and a couple of other birds. A female Downy Woodpecker posed for us near the feeders,
and as we were walking around the Nature Conservancy property after lunch spotting several butterflies and a few dragonflies, got a great look at a Red-tailed Hawk patrolling the area.
Later in the week, I made a couple of trips to Embudito Canyon close to my house just to see what was going on these days (Cue the Canyon Wrens echoing down the canyon). The chamisa was just glowing gold, a sure sign of autumn in these parts.
Managed to spot one or two Painted Lady and a couple of other butterflies, but they seemed reluctant to pose for pictures. Surprisingly since most have disappeared from town recently, there were still quite a few rufous hummingbirds zooming around and (another sign of autumn) lots of newly-arrived white-crowned sparrows singing to each other.
Another highlight of the morning was a Green-tailed Towhee seen near the parking area and not nearly as common as the Canyon Towhees there.
I must’ve been more quiet than normal or wearing clothes that blended better into the landscape yesterday, as I somehow got quite close to a couple of Ruby-crowned Kinglets poking around the stand of hackberry trees further up the canyon (you can just make out the red crown on this guy if you click to enlarge the picture).
Even more surprising was a Cactus Wren that popped into view just a few feet away from me further down in the canyon. Pretty sure he knew I was there crouched by a cholla, but seemed a bit confused about just where I was and if I might be something to worry about.
Since seeing them for the first time in Albuquerque this spring and watching them nest all summer, it’s a treat realizing they’ve apparently taken up full-time residence in the canyon.
Spent some time this morning checking out Tingley Ponds, where there were several American Wigeons and the usual Coots, and then wandered around the Botanic Garden, where that immature Black-crowned Night Heron continues to stalk the pond near the entrance. Still a few butterflies at the PNM Butterfly Pavilion (which supposedly closed last Friday), including Mexican Bluewings, Common Buckeyes, Zebra Heliconians, Julias, and this pair of mating Pipevine Swallowtails.
Don’t know who said it first, but it’s really true – if you don’t look, you won’t see.