For various reasons, I just didn’t get out much for several days after my last post. If no good plan pops up for me in the morning, sometimes it seems I can putter away the whole day fooling around on the computer, reading, or just vegging out. But I’ve rarely been disappointed when I do head out somewhere and almost always come back with at least a few decent photographs. The Audubon Thursday Birder trip to Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area motivated me to get up and out on Thursday for another remarkable day. After a quick stop at the Belen Marsh, where we saw 3 Burrowing Owls, Black-necked Stilts, American Avocets, and a Wilson’s Phalarope among a few other species, the rest of the morning was spent walking the loop at Whitfield. Informing everybody that we’d arrived was this prairie dog who seemed to have pulled security duty that morning.
Although it was pretty dry and not too many flowers were blooming, we did see some good birds and a few butterflies including lots of Field Crescents, several Marine Blues, at least one Monarch, and new for the year and for me in this location, a Dotted Roadside-Skipper. Perhaps the most unusual of the birds was a Common Nighthawk that Steve happened to spot flying over.
Not the greatest picture, but these are usually only seen around dusk and rarely during the middle of the day.
On the way home after lunch, we decided to stop at Valle de Oro NWR, formerly Price’s Dairy, to look for the Bobolinks that had been reported there recently. Very unusual for New Mexico, it was a treat when we finally spotted a single male way off in the distance. Others have gotten much better views of them perched on the fence right by the road like this American Robin did while showing off to attract our attention.
Several of the fields had been flooded with irrigation water, which drew in a large flock of White-faced Ibis.
and a few Cattle Egrets.
I went back on Monday morning in hopes of seeing the Bobolink again without success, but did have both Cattle Egrets and Great Egrets fly over and got a nice picture of a Western Meadowlark singing loudly.
Saturday, Rebecca and I headed out looking for butterflies in Las Huertas Canyon and then over the mountain to Sandia Crest and a couple other spots. Las Huertas had our first Weidemeyer’s Admiral for the year and an Arizona Sister, and one we’ve only seen a few times before, the Viereck’s Skipper.
Up at the Crest, we also got good looks at the tiny Melissa Blue.
One day last week, I took my usual walk through nearby Embudito Canyon, but the drought meant very few birds and only a single Two-tailed Swallowtail butterfly that morning. A Curve-billed Thrasher, as they are wont to do, posed nicely for a picture just as I was coming to the end of my walk.
This morning, it was up early and out the door to visit the log at Capulin Spring, always a great spot for birdwatching. I had to go this week as the authorities are closing down the mountains and the river on Monday with severe fire restrictions until we get some much needed rain. Early enough to be the only one there for awhile, eventually a bunch of birders showed up and my friend Judy reports being spooked by two black bears that came for a drink while she was there later in the day. No bears for me, but a variety of good birds (and multiple chipmunks) dropped in while I was watching. Probably the most unexpected, although they are around all year, was a Red Crossbill.
Also dropping by for a visit were two woodpeckers, a Hairy Woodpecker,
and a Northern Flicker.
And in addition to the usual Red-breasted Nuthatches coming in for a drink or a quick splash bath were several Audubon’s Warblers.
On the way back down the mountain, on a whim I pulled off at the Tree Spring trailhead to check on the wild iris we’d noticed starting to come into bloom a couple of weeks ago in a small meadow across the road. A marshy area last year that had a few good butterflies, this year it was completely dry, but the iris had come out in large numbers and attracted a surprisingly large number of butterflies; mostly Northern Cloudywings, but a couple of Silver-spotted Skippers and a Marine Blue. Here’s a picture of one of the iris.
Not looking forward to having so many of my favorite spots closed for the next few weeks, but will manage to find someplace to wander around. Hope those rains come soon to keep the flowers blooming, provide water for all the wildlife, and reduce the threat of wildfires.