2012 got off to a great start bird-wise with a return visit to the Tingley Ponds on Sunday, January 1. Rebecca had joined me to work on finding the very uncommon Pacific Wren and Rusty Blackbirds that people had been seeing there recently. This time we were quite successful and would return with the Thursday Birder group later in the week for the same birds. The day seemed at times like some kind of Birder’s Convention as we kept running into others out on the same quest. Turns out the blackbird shown in my last post was indeed the male Rusty Blackbird, and on Sunday we got great looks at both the male and the female.
We also got a brief look at the more usual, but uncommon, Winter Wren, and excellent looks at its recent split, the Pacific Wren. These birds are so similar it is only possible to distinguish them by their call notes. Most of us were fortunate to see the Pacific Wren (and some the Blackbird) again on Thursday, where I got this picture when the little guy popped up quite close to where we were standing.
Rebecca and I had first done a scouting visit to the Albuquerque Open Space Visitor Center on Tuesday, where the Thursday Birders would start before heading to Tingley Ponds. The Visitor Center has a small wetlands pond that surprisingly for such a small area drew in a Belted Kingfisher and this Great Blue Heron.
A White-crowned Sparrow also posed long enough for a few pictures that afternoon,
and this mated pair of Mallards made for a pretty good picture as well.
On our return visit early Thursday morning, although we didn’t see the heron or the kingfisher, we were treated to a fabulous display of a female Northern Harrier cruising low over the fields in search of prey. After a short walk there around the pond, we headed off to Tingley for the blackbirds and wrens.
Toward the end of the morning, we also checked out quite a variety of ducks on the southern pond at Tingley, and I was able to get a couple good pictures of a male Belted Kingfisher that was chattering away at our presence.
Today, I returned to the Shining River Open Space and walked from Paseo del Norte to Alameda and back. Very quiet other than a large number of crows calling, but did see the Spotted Sandpiper we’d seen there the week before and about half a dozen Common Mergansers of both sexes near the dam (but too far away for good pictures). Also stopped by Los Poblanos Open Space, where I’d had great fun recently watching and photographing a variety of raptors, but it too, other than a number of Sandhill Cranes and Canada Geese, was also pretty quiet, but probably not that unusual for this time of year.
All in all, a pretty good start to the new year with a couple of new lifers and a few good pictures.