I didn’t expect there’d be any more good pictures before the end of the year after my post last Wednesday, but the hits just kept coming, and thought I’d share a few with this last post for 2011. The Thursday Birder group headed north along the drain from the Shining River Open Space, and in addition to a few unusual sightings of things like camels, llamas, ostrich, and Guinea fowl, saw some interesting birds and a couple of porcupines, including this guy just dozing away.
Not at all usual along such running water, we were treated to a Spotted Sandpiper
and a Wilson’s Snipe,
both of whom would fly ahead of us we headed down the path.
Friday afternoon, I spent some time at Los Poblanos Open Space where there were still a few Sandhill Cranes around, a couple of fly-bys of a Northern Harrier, and an American Kestrel that would turn out to be quite entertaining.
This guy was busy checking out a cropped field for something to eat, and would fly from a nearby fence post at anything that moved in the grass. The field was also being scanned by a pair of Greater Roadrunners, and at one point one of them made a move on whatever it was the Kestrel had found. After a brief standoff, the Kestrel apparently decided to leave the fight for another day.
On my way out, I noticed a large Red-tailed Hawk still hanging out in a tree just east of the Open Space and decided to see if it wanted to pose for a picture.
Although it kept an eye on me the whole time, it must’ve felt pretty safe way up there in the tree and stayed there as I got back in the car and headed for home.
This morning, New Year’s Eve, I rambled down to Tingley Ponds to look for a couple of rare birds that had been seen there recently. No luck on the Pacific Wren, but the jury’s still out on whether or not the single blackbird I saw might be the Rusty, instead of our more typical Brewer’s Blackbird.
Soon after seeing that, a bird was fidgeting around in the reeds I’d hoped just might be that Pacific Wren, but nope, turned out to be one of the Song Sparrows we’ve been seeing a lot this winter down by the river.
Had a noisy Belted Kingfisher, a roosting Great Blue Heron, and a variety of interesting water birds, including this Pied-billed Grebe
and a male Canvasback.
Saturday’s porcupine total reached a total of five, including for the first time for me, two of them hanging out right next to each other.
Wrapped up the morning with a quick visit to the Rio Grande Nature Center, but it was pretty quiet overall right until I was about 10 feet from my car, when I noticed this Cooper’s Hawk hanging out in a low tree between the parking lot and Candelaria Pond.
So that’s it. I’ve put my camera away for the year, and it has been a pretty remarkable year for photography. We’ll see what tomorrow and 2012 brings!