Something a Little Different

This post is going to be a little different than usual since it seems some of the pictures I’ve gotten recently are of a couple of other critters, birds in unusual poses or ones not seen all that often around town. Weather, distance and equipment issues had some of them turn out leaving a little to be desired, but I figured still worth sharing.

This shot of a coyote at Poblanos Open Space turned out reasonably well. The leader of the pack, this one struck me as looking in great shape and kept its eye on me as Iong as I was in the area….three others were a short distance away lazing around in the field.


A few days later wandering around Bear Canyon on a bit of a cloudy, blustery morning I wouldn’t see many birds at all but did spot a couple of Black-tailed Jackrabbits that would high-tail it outathere as I approached. Always surprising to me how much larger they are than our more usual Desert Cottontail.

Black-tailed Jackrabbit

On November 15, Rebecca and I went with our friend, Ken, to Coyote del Malpais Golf Course in Grants, NM on a scouting trip for a future Thursday Birder trip.  The course had a number of large ponds and has done a good job of leaving some undisturbed natural habitat away from the fairways that resulted in our having fun seeing a variety of ducks and other waterfowl and a fair number of raptors. A highlight for us was getting good looks at a Rough-legged Hawk, a species we’ll only see in winter and not all that often.

Rough-legged Hawk

A couple of Red-tailed Hawks and American Kestrels also appeared along with several Northern Harriers. Highlight for the duck species was the Common Goldeneye, which I’ve only seen maybe once every other year – on this trip we had about six individuals, including both male

Male Common Goldeneye

and female.

Female Common Goldeneye

It was fun getting a shot of a male Bufflehead in flight that morning.


On the way home after lunch in Grants, we stopped at La Ventana Natural Arch and then The Narrows since it was basically on the way but hoping to maybe see the Peregrine Falcons or Pinyon Jays we’ve seen there before. Neither of them were around then, but we did get good looks at a couple of Juniper Titmouse working in the shade of the juniper trees. Fairly common in that kind of habitat, it’s rare for me to be able to get a decent photo of one.

Juniper Titmouse

Seeing a report on eBird a few days later that the rosy-finches had arrived at Sandia Crest House, we headed up there Sunday morning to take a look. The flock would swirl in for a feeding frenzy for a few minutes before flying out of sight for awhile before suddenly appearing again. Occasionally, a few would perch in the nearby trees long enough to photograph.

Black Rosy-Finch

On the way home, we stopped at Doc Long and Ojito de San Antonio, both of which were fairly quiet (no surprise given the season and time of day), but did have fun watching a few White-breasted Nuthatches working the leaf litter for something to eat,

White-breasted Nuthatch

and a Townsend’s Solitaire catching a little late afternoon sun.

Townsend’s Solitaire

Back to Poblanos Open Space and the Rio Grande Nature Center a couple of days later didn’t turn up any of the species I was hoping to see, but gave me a few nice looks at Sandhill Cranes,

Sandhill Crane

and at the Nature Center what is obviously the resident Greater Roadrunner – this guy seems to be running around their parking lot on almost every visit there.

Greater Roadrunner

The next morning I made my way to Valle de Oro NWR and got several photographs of Western Meadowlarks quite close to the road. I’d never before noticed the fascinating fractal pattern of feathers on their back.

Western Meadowlark

Over Thanksgiving this year, Rebecca and I headed to Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge looking for some of the raptors and waterfowl that hang out there for the winter. Weather the first day wasn’t that great – cloudy, cold, and windy, but turned up quite a few raptors often “kiting” by hanging in the air searching the fields and with the steady wind able to hold their position without having to flap their wings much at all. There were some ducks, grebes, coots, and such on some of the ponds, and a young Bald Eagle on one of them but they were too far away for other than views through a spotting scope.  The second day was clear and sunny but still pretty windy as we first stopped in at Storrie Lake and then another loop through Las Vegas NWR. A fun picture from the first day was this Red-tailed Hawk settling down in the wind.

Red-tailed Hawk

All the clouds turned up lots of Ferruginous Hawks, sometimes one on each of several power poles along the road. Interestingly, while we saw so many on the cloudy day, very few were seen on the following sunny day.

Ferruginous Hawk

We also had a good number of Northern Harriers in the area that we’d spot flying low over the fields, but only one that was still close enough by the time I got my camera squared away. And although most were the brown colored females, this one was the “Gray Ghost” male that is less commonly seen.

Male Northern Harrier

We kept our eyes out for any shrikes having seen a report of a Northern Shrike from earlier that week, but only saw the usual (but still not all that common) Loggerhead Shrike, this one with an insect snack.

Loggerhead Shrike

There were several Mountain Bluebirds around, typically sitting on fenceposts like the shrike, but one I was photographing in a tree flew off just as I clicked the shutter.

Mountain Bluebird

It was also a treat to see a few Black-billed Magpies in several of the areas we visited. They don’t seem to get quite as far south as Albuquerque, but are reasonably common further north. What we hadn’t noticed before were those white bands on the top of their wings. Pretty cool, but I’ll have to work on getting a shot like that under more favorable conditions someday.

Black-billed Magpie


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.

8 Responses to Something a Little Different

  1. vickbird says:

    Great series of photos! That Magpie is fabulous.

  2. Johnna Schelling says:

    Love the Jack Rabbit – what a great shot.

  3. Terri Treacy says:

    All the photos are great, but I especially like the black-tailed jackrabbit!!

  4. joeschelling says:

    Thanks. I need to get back there again when the weather’s better; there were several of them hiding in the bushes and they all ran straight away from me as I approached.

  5. Rebecca Gracey says:

    A wonderful group of pictures Joe. The Goldeneyes and the Bufflehead on the wing shots are stunning.

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