Easing into 2021

Haven’t gotten around to updating my blog since early January so it’s certainly time to post a few pictures. Interestingly, in recent days I find myself feeling as if we’re in some kind of holding pattern not having to check the news multiple times a day now that Trump’s been retired and just holed up at home waiting to be called in for the Covid vaccine. But I’ve also been busy going through the absurd number of photographs posted on my website over the last decade, a task that has taken a considerable amount of time. Still, I somehow managed to get outside a few times for a few decent photos.

One day, poking along the irrigation ditch at Alameda Open Space unsuccessfully looking for kinglets and creepers turned up a Killdeer in a somewhat atypical habitat.


A few days later, I got a look at the Hooded Merganser pair at the Rio Grande Nature Center (but haven’t made it back for a better shot),

Hooded Merganser

and of a Red-tailed Hawk that flew into one of the nearby cottonwood trees.

Red-tailed Hawk

The next day, Rebecca and I headed down to Bosque del Apache NWR since we hadn’t been in quite some time and there are usually good birds around during the winter. Not nearly as much water as normal for this season that kept the bird numbers down some, but we still had a fun day. Among the first birds I’d see was a pair of Bufflehead quite close to my car paddling around, diving, and coming back up with the light perfect for catching that iridescence on the male.


Driving around the loop we noticed they’d burned the brush and drained one of the smaller ponds, something they probably have to do now and then to keep the cattails from taking over, but still spotted a pretty cool bird, Greater Yellowlegs, in a classic yoga pose.

Greater Yellowlegs

Most of the action that day was on the big pond just as you enter the refuge with a good sized flock of snow geese, smaller numbers of various ducks, and a few others, such as this Western Meadowlark.

Western Meadowlark

At one point, the geese took to the air all around us in an amazing display of action and sound, providing me with this shot of a couple of them going right by.

Snow Goose

Taking a lunch break on the Eagle Scout deck, I was regularly interrupted by Northern Harriers zooming by but never quite got the photo I’d  hoped for. At one point it got rather exciting when the snow geese all launched off the pond again, which we’ve learned typically happens when a Bald Eagle passes by. Sure enough, we’d spot one making a low pass trying to grab a snack

Bald Eagle

before heading back to its usual perch to wait for another opportunity.

Bald Eagle

Finishing up our lunch, our good friend, Lefty, stopped by to tell us about his having spotted the Northern Shrike earlier. Hoping to see that bird, which is quite unusual to find around here, was his main reason for making the drive from Albuquerque and wonderful that he was successful. Following his directions, we headed to his spot and were thrilled to also find it rather quickly.

Northern Shrike

I’d seen that species only once before, and it too had been at Bosque del Apache back in February 2015. This bird seems easy to confuse with the much more commonly seen Loggerhead Shrike, but they really are noticeably different if you get a close enough view. For comparison, this next photo is of the Loggerhead Shrike we’d seen earlier that morning.

Loggerhead Shrike

Just a couple more pictures from the few times I’ve been out of the house since. This one is a Northern Shoveler seen cruising up and down the irrigation ditch in Corrales.

Northern Shoveler

Another day at the Tingley Ponds gave me nice looks at a Canvasback


and a Northern Pintail.

Northern Pintail

Finally, here’s one of a young Black-crowned Night-Heron hanging out by the Tingley fishing ponds.

Black-crowned Night-Heron






About joeschelling

Birding, butterflies, nature photography, and travel blog from right here in Albuquerque New Mexico.
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6 Responses to Easing into 2021

  1. M.B. Henry says:

    Lovely pics – I especially liked the Shrikes 🙂

  2. Rebecca Gracey says:

    It was nice to see the photos of the Bald Eagle stirring up the geese, and then his retreat, and pictures of both species of shrike. I liked the Killdeer shot too.

  3. Dave Gibson says:

    Late to this, but enjoyed all. BTW, not atypical habitat at all for a Killdeer. It’s funny, but I was thinking the other day that I associate Killdeer with rocks. They seem to have an affinity for them. Keep up the good work!

    • joeschelling says:

      Thanks, Dave. I’d agree they do seem to have a thing for rocks, but usually see them in more marshy areas and open fields; that one was down along the rocks in an irrigation ditch.

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