Targets of Opportunity

Once again, a few weeks have flown by and we’ve now had our first taste of colder weather. The chamisa is in full bloom and the cottonwoods taking on their brilliant fall colors. Sandhill cranes, eagles, ducks, and other migrating birds have all started returning, while the butterflies have pretty much tailed off for the year. Busy around here lately with some major home improvements and getting caught by Apple’s latest IOS update, which is incompatible with much of the software I’ve been using for years. Pretty much over all that now, but realized I just haven’t been getting out all that often lately and haven’t taken many photographs while out and about. But there’s been a few I thought I’d share here, since most were rather unusual sightings and somewhat surprisingly showing up during a few trips targeting that particular species.

Chronologically, this first one wasn’t all that unusual to see, but the only picture I kept from Rebecca’s successful Audubon Thursday Birder trip to Bosque del Apache, a female Gambel’s Quail.

Gambel’s Quail

We’d seen some great birds on our scouting trip a week earlier (a couple of the photos in my previous blog posting), and were glad the group got to see the pair of Peregrine Falcons we’d seen then, along with a nice variety of other birds.

A week later on the Thursday Birder trip to the Corrales bosque, we’d also be successful in seeing plenty of good birds, including my first sighting of the season of Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

While scanning the trees lining the irrigation ditch, I’d noticed several kinglets making their way along the ditch, each stopping for a quick bath at the runoff from a beaver dam. Making my way down closer, I waited for a bit to try and catch one doing just that, but was only able to photograph one or two as they passed by in the trees close to the water. Later in the morning, we’d get a good look at a late season dragonfly, the fabulous Flame Skimmer.

Flame Skimmer (Libellula saturata)

About a week earlier, Rebecca and I were out checking out a potential location for a new Thursday Birder trip, the Mars Court Trailhead. We’d heard folks had been reporting Acorn Woodpecker around there recently and kept an eye out for it during that first visit. Rebecca met a couple of other friends there a few days later and they were got to see three of them on their walk. So, of course, Rebecca took me back to try to find them again a few days later. We got to the area where they’d seen them, but weren’t having any luck despite looking around patiently for some time. Crossed my mind to play their call on my iBird Plus phone app when I realized I had no idea what they might sound like, and playing it once was all it took to have first one and then another come zooming by to land on nearby snags. They’d sit there for a minute and then fly off to a more distant spot and eventually out of sight. Waiting around some more eventually we’d spot one or more flying off in the distance and then a single one that landed reasonably close. Don’t know for sure if this was a third one in addition to the pair we’d seen flying around, but it did seem to use different trees and we never saw a second one with it.

Acorn Woodpecker

Also cool to see that day were several Pygmy Nuthatches. I would never have thought to look except for Rebecca’s recognizing their call, and one let me get the best photograph I’ve ever gotten of one.

Pygmy Nuthatch

A few days later, I’d been out wandering all around Pueblo Montano Open Space without seeing many birds at all, although we’d done pretty well early in the month during the Thursday Birder trip. Heading back to my car without having taken any photos that day, I just happened to notice a Wilson’s Snipe sitting out in the open along the ditch behind the recently-installed steel fence. These guys are rarely so out in the open or let you get anywhere close before disappearing, but this one sat there patiently the entire time I stayed to watch.

Wilson’s Snipe

A target trip to Bosque del Apache NWR yesterday was also successful. We’d been down there a couple of times this month already but must have been too early for a cool-looking moth, the Nevada Buckmoth, we’d first seen there last year on October 20. On this latest trip, they were flying around everywhere we’d look but just like last year it took some effort to find one stationary…here’s the one we did manage to find sitting on the tall grass.

Nevada Buckmoth (Hemileuca nevadensis)

And being there just two weeks after our last visit, the ponds are starting to fill for the upcoming Festival of the Cranes, bringing in a good number of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese along with some of the other waterfowl, and we’d get good looks at a Golden Eagle flying over, and enjoyed watching several Northern Harriers cruising around including this one that was doing an excellent job of hovering in place close to the ground for awhile before dropping down quickly after spotting a potential snack, and then repeating the behavior.

Northern Harrier

About joeschelling

Birding, butterflies, nature photography, and travel blog from right here in Albuquerque New Mexico.
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4 Responses to Targets of Opportunity

  1. The Mars Court Trail is narrow and rocky. Not sure it would be a good TB trip! I only got part way down the trail without my trekking poles.

    • joeschelling says:

      We thought that, too, for the ‘Wild Turkey’ trail the woodpeckers were seen, but the dirt road, FR 530, we walked the first time wasn’t so bad and takes you near the same area…uphill going back, but okay. I’ll pass along your concern but am not involved with scheduling those trips.

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