It’s always amazing to me how following a few weeks of not seeing much out there to photograph, suddenly there’s lots of new sightings for the year and the pictures just start to pile up. So, apologies in advance, but lots to post this time I hope y’all enjoy. Way back on March 27 while checking out Embudito Canyon for those Sandia Hairstreaks, a couple of new species for the year showed up, including a Mylitta Crescent
and a Gray Hairstreak.
Very unusual for this place, the seasonal bit of water from winter runoff this year is making its way most of the way down the canyon rather than disappearing close to the head of the wash – butterflies seem to enjoy picking up salt from the damp sand patches along the way.
The next day, Audubon Thursday Birders headed down to Bosque del Apache NWR, where it was interesting seeing the change in bird species since a trip just six weeks earlier. Fun for me were getting photos of some of them, including this House Sparrow flying out of its nest hole,
one of the White-throated Sparrows that we don’t see all that often around here,
a Pyrrhuloxia (a bird that doesn’t seem to make it much further north),
Snowy Egret, back for the season and showing off those golden slippers,
Wild Turkey (one of a flock that wandered by the side of the road),
and surprise for all of us, a Long-billed Curlew.
A claret cup cactus was in full bloom in the Desert Garden at the Visitor Center, somewhat earlier than I’d have expected.
Once we’d all regrouped to go over the bird list for the day most folks headed for home, while Rebecca and I headed down to Deming close to the border with Mexico hoping the wet winter would lead to a great poppy display as we’d had there on about the same date in 2012. Once it warmed up enough early the next day, the poppies were indeed pretty good if not quite as amazing as before – they might well have been more impressive on a little earlier or later date, but guess you just have to be there to know.
What was fun was seeing some new butterflies for the year and ones we don’t see all that often, including a Texan Crescent that flew off before Rebecca got to see,
a Juniper Hairstreak, which we will see regularly but this was the first for the year,
as is also true for Funereal Duskywing,
and three individual Great Purple Hairstreak, a species I may or may not see every year and is the butterfly that got me turned on to this butterfly business when Rebecca first pointed one out to me in the Sandias.
Majorly cool sighting that day was a line of Barbary Sheep along the top of a cliff in Spring Canyon.
That’s the best I could do with my 400mm zoom lens…to give you a better idea of how extreme an environment they were fooling around in (and amazed that Rebecca was spotted those tiny creatures in the first place), here’s a wider shot of that cliff face with those sheep wandering around up on top.
Back home, a few days later had me out checking in on some of my owls. Since I’d first seen them out of the nest on March 19, it was a bit of a surprise still seeing two of the little ones with the adult female on April 2 (and apparently they’re still there this week).
Not much had changed recently at either Willow Creek Open Space
or Pueblo Montano,
so it might be a bit longer before we first see the little ones in those nests.
Back to Embudito and a couple more new butterfly species for the year, including this quite fresh Spring White,
a Two-tailed Swallowtail earlier than I would expect them,
and a glowing Sandia Hairstreak.
This past Saturday, it was off to check on a couple other owl nests. Having heard from a friend about little ones popping up at Albuquerque Academy (I’d had my suspicions a few days earlier), sure enough I got to see one of at least two babies there.
Another friend called to tell me about another nest that I hadn’t known about close to the National Hispanic Cultural Center (where they nested last year); excellent directions led me right to it!
An interesting development a short while later at the Rio Grande Nature Center. After getting a good look at the owl that’s been hanging around the Visitor Center (that some folks tell me is likely one that had been rehabilitated and released there earlier this year), I headed north on the bike trail toward where one I’d been seeing since early February hung out until the one showed up at the Visitor Center. They’ve nested around there in the past, but oddly this year no one’s reported an active nest anywhere close to the Nature Center. Looking around rather carefully thinking there’s got to be one here somewhere, I finally spotted this one.
It was perched there right next to a large, old nest, but I couldn’t see any sign of it being used actively. Definitely requires another visit soon.
And then yesterday, I heard from some other good friends that they’d finally spotted the nesting female in Corrales close to where I’ve regularly been seeing at least one adult since early last year. Here’s what the male looked like yesterday,
and sure enough, with more excellent directions here, here’s the female nesting just across the irrigation ditch – peeking out of a deep cavity of an old cottonwood. Am looking forward to getting a look at their little ones once they get old enough to move around the branches.
Getting back to that new nest near the National Hispanic Cultural Center, since it was nearby, I took a look at the heron and egret rookery I’d heard about last year. A bit surprising this early (indeed, a trip the next day to the huge rookery in Bosque Farms had no birds at all), the few trees used in this location had quite a few Snowy Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, and Cattle Egret and a number of active nests. Here’s my best shot of one of the Snowy Egrets
and of a Black-crowned Night-Heron.
And, of course, I had to check in on the Burrowing Owls down in Owlville to see how things were going; interesting to only see a single owl where I’ve been seeing two pair recently, which makes me wonder if maybe they aren’t down in their burrows making baby owls?