It’s been way too long that we’ve been waiting for any rain around here, even with the clouds teasing us the last few afternoons. Some areas in the state have finally gotten a little, but most of us are still waiting for the start of our usual monsoon season to lower the risk of fire and bring back the wildflowers and butterflies. With most of my regular mountain locations totally closed due to fire restrictions, it’s not easy coming up with ideas of where to go lately. The cottonwood bosque along the Rio Grande is still open, as are the lower foothills to the east of Albuquerque, and these areas have led to some fun sightings although they also need a good rain or two. And we’ve found a couple of open areas near Socorro that (at the moment) aren’t completely closed to the public.
This post has some of my photos from the last few weeks from those spots I can still access. Toward the end of May was a trip down to the Belen Marsh after seeing a report of a good variety of shorebirds being seen there. Not much luck for me on an early morning visit, and a little depressing how little water was present, but I did spot a couple of American Avocet on the far side,
and had fun watching Black-necked Stilts (and their chicks) running around and showing off.
On my return drive, I thought to check out the Crick Avenue Greenbelt, a birding area new to me but almost a migrant trap with a large area of very well-watered grass and trees at the top of a very dry mesa environment. Definitely worth a repeat visit after seeing a Lark Sparrow,
being teased by a Bullock’s Oriole,
and getting a close-up portrait of one of the many Western Kingbirds in the area.
A few days later saw me doing the loop at Los Poblanos OS. A few birds were about but not many photo ops. It seemed a little unusual to spot a Cattle Egret perched way high in a cottonwood rather than working the fields as others were. That’s my guy at the top of the tall trunk on the left.
Zooming all the way in gave me the following look at him.
Off to The Box and then Water Canyon near Socorro two days later, and again at the end of the week. The Box was okay for a couple of butterflies, including a Hackberry Emperor,
but it was Water Canyon that turned out quite good for butterflies and even a few birds. Re the birds, there were a few Acorn Woodpeckers around that I didn’t get good photos of but also a Plumbeous Vireo dashing back and forth to its nest,
and my best look at a male Western Tanager so far this year.
The butterflies were drawn in large numbers to the blooming butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), a bright orange milkweed, and (new to us) False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa). Unusual to see clouds of butterflies around here like that, so it was fun seeing all that going on, i.e.,
Others on these flowers included Leda Ministreak
an uncommonly seen (at least by me) Ceraunus Blue,
and even a Viereck’s Skipper (this one shown on a different nectar source).
There were even a few Canyonland Satyrs flying around the area,
and now and then a dragonfly such as this Flame Skimmer.
Other days recently had me down at Pueblo Montano Open Space and along the irrigation ditches in Corrales, the former turning up a nice Blue Grosbeak,
and the latter bringing to my attention a Black-crowned Night-Heron that flew up as four young coyotes were bashing along back and forth across the ditch and raising hell from all the birds in the area.
Definitely a treat to spot a Great Purple Hairstreak on the newly-blooming nectar source.
Yesterday was a visit to the Botanic Garden to check on the Black-chinned Hummingbird nest mentioned in my last post and to visit the Butterfly Pavilion which is now open. We’d have the female hummingbird sit on the nest just as before, but then fly off in search of some bugs. I’d gotten a look inside the nest while she was gone and think it shows hatched little ones, but am somewhat concerned that they weren’t sitting up begging for food whenever the female returned.
The Butterfly Pavilion was fun as usual, but I only ended up with a few photos this time, including this fresh White Peacock
and a sunning Giant Swallowtail.
Noticed a Garden Snail in the greenery down below the walkway that led to a nice photo,
and always have a hard time walking by water lilies without snapping a picture.