Year-end Surprises

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.

Sleepy Porcupine

Sleepy Porcupine

Not at all usual along such running water, we were treated to a Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

and a Wilson’s Snipe,

Wilson's Snipe

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.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

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.

Roadrunner vs. Kestrel

Roadrunner vs. Kestrel

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.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

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.

Blackbird

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.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Had a noisy Belted Kingfisher, a roosting Great Blue Heron, and a variety of interesting water birds, including this Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

and a male Canvasback.

Canvasback

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.

Porcupines

Porcupines

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.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

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!

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About joeschelling

Birding, butterflies, nature photography, and travel blog from right here in Albuquerque New Mexico.
This entry was posted in Birding, Critters, Photographs. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Year-end Surprises

  1. Rebecca Gracey says:

    You made many good bird sightings for late December. Those porcupine pictures seems to capture the season well.

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