Spring is getting so close what with daylight saving time kicking in Sunday and the official spring equinox early the following Saturday. With the pandemic still out there (and vaccines not quite available here yet for most of us), it’ll still be good to get outside for all the new flowers, leaves on the trees, returning birds and emerging butterflies – can’t wait! Haven’t updated the blog since February 16, but there’ve been a few good photo opportunities over the last 3 weeks I thought I’d share. A bit quiet the next day in Embudito, but I did get a nice shot of a Cactus Wren.
A couple of days after that, Rebecca and I made another trip down to Bosque del Apache, where we’d see the Northern Shrike again and good numbers of Sandhill Crane and other wintering residents who will soon start heading north. Several times that day we’d spot a young Bald Eagle, once just flying by
and later acting highly interested as an adult grabbed a duck and wrangled it to the shore to eat. We saw javelinas in a couple of spots, but none of the bobcats others have been seeing recently. It was fun coming across a few Wild Turkey.
While eating lunch on the Eagle Scout Deck, a couple of Northern Harriers were flying around in the distance, one of which flew right over us but turned out to be a Red-tailed Hawk.
At a pond near the Flight Deck where we watched the Bald Eagle show, there were also good numbers of Cinnamon Teal close enough to get a decent photo.
A week later, Rebecca and I met at the Rio Grande Nature Center to walk the bosque and along the Rio Grande just past Campbell Road. Not quite as busy with birds as on some of my earlier visits, but it was fun watching three Killdeer apparently holding a meeting to discuss their latest dance moves. They’d line up three abreast and take a few steps forward and back, or step around each other in different formations, but pretty much were just hanging out together.
While we were watching that an adult Bald Eagle passed by heading up river just above the trees.
A few days later, a new camera arrived that I’d been thinking about for several years now. A Sony RX10iv – everyone I know that has one raves about it and I’d read good things about it online. There’s a bit of a learning curve to using it, so the jury’s still out while I work through that. So far, I’m pretty happy with it if not as overwhelmingly impressed as I’d expected. Haven’t had too many good opportunities yet to try out different things, but the rest of the photos in this post were taken with my new toy.
Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area has finally opened up Thursday-Saturday for walking around, so we met there last Friday. Didn’t end up with too many pictures and a little quiet for birds, but there was a Great Egret on their small pond along with a Great Blue Heron. The heron would fly whenever I’d think of trying for a picture of the egret, and once a Northern Harrier even flew by to land just feet from the egret. Here’s my best shot of the Great Egret from the opposite side of the pond.
The next day back at the Rio Grande Nature Center, I spotted this year’s nest for the Great Horned Owl. Rather high up in a tree, it’s not much to see now, but hopefully we should get decent looks at Mom and the little ones once they arrive.
Later that morning, I looked around a bit at Los Poblanos Open Space thinking I might get photos of raptors or cranes in flight. Didn’t see any of those, but did see a Western Screech-Owl in one of the nest boxes, and one of the resident Greater Roadrunners that are almost always somewhere around the garden plots.
Now that March is here and we’ve had a couple of days with temperatures reaching into the upper 60s, I’ve been checking Embudito Canyon pretty much every day hoping to see my first Sandia Hairstreak….typically the first species to announce the arrival of the year’s butterfly season. And, yay!, this year it happened on March 6 (also pretty good practice shooting macro with the new Sony).
Despite the gray clouds yesterday, I was off to check in on the Western Screech-Owl in Columbus Park…much cooler background than the nest boxes of Los Poblanos,
then over to Tingley Ponds where I had a cooperative pair of Northern Shoveler.
Up at the north end of the north pond, a lump in the trees caught my eye and not too surprisingly turned out to be a Porcupine, although a bit unusual in being fairly low in a tree and moving around rather than dozing away as one usually finds them.