Autumn Magic

This time of year is always special around here with near perfect weather and the chamisa and cottonwoods putting on their spectacular autumn colors. The shady green bosque woods down by the river changes to a vivid gold for just a few weeks before the leaves blow away leaving just those gray branches until the rebirth of spring.

Tingley Cottonwoods

Tingley Cottonwoods

The fragrant chamisa blooming at this time also brings out the last burst of butterflies before they too disappear for a few months. Several visits to Embudito Canyon this week led to sightings of a fair number of butterfly species, including several that we haven’t seen many of this year, such as Fulvia Checkerspot and Fiery Skipper.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephilia phyleus)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephilia phyleus)

Plenty of the more common species, including this fresh Painted Lady, are also still active at the chamisa.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Another visitor that starts appearing about this time every year and stays through the winter is the White-crowned Sparrow, which posed nicely for me during an Audubon Thursday Birder trip to the Open Space Visitor Center a week ago.

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

This week got fairly ridiculous with Great Blue Herons being seen just about everywhere I went. While we do see them pretty much year-round, this week they seemed to appear in places I haven’t regularly seen them before. The first one was along a canal at the Alameda Open Space, which flew up to a tree when I came upon it and was clearly hoping I didn’t see it as it posed as just another gray branch for a few minutes before flying off.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

A few days later on a walk at Tingley Ponds, I spotted another one just above me in a tree. It didn’t seem at all concerned by my presence or even aware that I was there.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

At one point, however, it did look down and gave me the view that I’m sure more than a few fish have seen before their demise, just to let me know I’d been noticed.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Realizing I was no threat, it then posed nicely in profile for me.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

I’d also see them later in the week at the Rio Grande Nature Center,  Valle de Oro NWR, and Bosque del Apache NWR.

Several of the duck species that will spend most of the winter here have now returned to Tingley Ponds. Those golden cottonwoods are reflected in the pond where this American Wigeon was paddling around.

Male American Wigeon

Male American Wigeon

The Wood Duck is one of the more flamboyant characters returning, and I had a group of two males and two females paddle up quite closely.

Male Wood Duck

Male Wood Duck

A good total of 33 birds were spotted on a gorgeous Fall morning at the Rio Grande Nature Center during this week’s Audubon Thursday Birder outing with a large group of nearly that many people in the group along for the walk.  One of the good birds this week, which I also saw at Tingley earlier in the week, was a male Belted Kingfisher, which flew back and forth between two perches just a bit too far for my camera to reach.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

A more cooperative bird was this immature Cooper’s Hawk, hiding in the shade close to the trail, who flew off after most of the group got a pretty good look.

Immature Cooper's Hawk

Immature Cooper’s Hawk

Enjoy the autumn magic while it’s still here.

Bosque del Apache

Bosque del Apache

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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, Butterfly, Photographs. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Autumn Magic

  1. Splendid imagery and stories, very much enjoyed.

  2. Rusha Sams says:

    Excellent. Love the yellow leaves in the first picture, but the birds are absolutely fabulous!

  3. what a wonderful mix of seasons, great photos and narrative – short and sweet! Earmarking this for possible paintings if you’ll give me rights to do so 😉

  4. Mike Powell says:

    I’m definitely enjoying the “autumn magic,” and have also been photographing Great Blue Herons. It’s a little late for butterflies for us, so I have to live vicariously through your wonderful shots. I haven’t seen Wood Ducks since spring and love your image–the male duck is a really cool-looking bird. I have been sphotographing a lot of sparrows and really like your shot of the White-crowned–I have been seeing mostly White-throated ones in my area.

  5. Rebecca Gracey says:

    You captured the beauty of the golden cottonwood trees well.

  6. joeschelling says:

    Thanks for the comments everybody; glad you’re enjoying the pictures.

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