Another fine year draws to a close with high expectations for the New Year. It was interesting to receive a report from WordPress this week of some of the statistics for this blog for the past year. Apparently, people have looked at the 38 posts so far this year 6900 times with as many as 235 views on a single day. Most were from the US and Canada, but 37% were from people in countries all over the world. Pretty cool.
I continue to be amazed at how the internet has opened the world and influenced communication and the transfer of knowledge. Just the other day after emailing a friend in Arizona about those pictures from my latest trip to Ecuador, he helped identify a couple of my unknown grasshoppers and then asked a friend in Switzerland to identify a couple of others, who then contacted a friend in Colombia to identify others. I’ve also benefited greatly by the responsiveness of several other butterfly experts in helping identify many of the species from that trip.
What with Christmas social events and weather issues, not too many pictures to share this week. The day after Christmas was the Sandia Christmas Bird Count where a friend and I were assigned Pino Canyon in the Sandia foothills for the day. A bit brisk out there at 8 am, a feeling evidently shared by the first bird of the day, a Canyon Towhee, chillin’ in the parking lot.
While everybody on the count that day seemed to share our experience of not seeing as many birds as expected (our Pino Canyon count had only 16 species after looking for nearly 5 hours and covering about 6 miles), by the end of the day the total number of species seen by the whole team was a new record of more than 80 species, considerably better than the old record of 70. A highlight for me was getting an unusually close-up view of a Townsend’s Solitaire, which were present in surprisingly large numbers this year.
The next day, the Audubon Thursday Birder group rambled around the Rio Grande Nature Center for a fair number of the usual birds for this time of year, including a flyover by several flocks of Canada Geese,
and a number of Western Bluebirds, several of which seemed quite interested in establishing a nest in a cavity in a large cottonwood tree.
My favorite bird of the season has to be the Sandhill Cranes that winter here before migrating back north in another month or so. Large and incredibly graceful in flight, they are always fun to photograph. Here’s two from the past week, one a close-up on the ground in Los Lunas where they seem to be yard birds rather unconcerned by the presence of humans,
and another of one flying over during a walk at Los Poblanos Open Space early in the week.
Stay tuned – 2013 is sure to provide some wonderful opportunities for those amazing natural moments.