A Few Good Birds

Wanted to share some of the photos of birds taken in New Mexico since the first of the year in this blog post. I haven’t gotten out much, first being off to Texas for a week, sometimes due to weather and not seeing much, but also busy trying to manage digital image files that have accumulated over more than a decade. Like most folks, I end up discarding lots of images soon after returning home, but especially for birds and butterflies, have been slow to narrow things down to a small number of the better images of individual species. From foreign trips, it seems I often saved a large number of images although I’d only use a fraction for my website’s travel page. And since most were saved as both RAW and JPG files, storage takes up quite a bit of space (close to 1 Tb of unused files, I’m thinking). This is becoming quite time-consuming, but seems a worthwhile task.

On January 22, however, I joined Rebecca for a trip down to Bosque del Apache NWR, where we took her new birding friend, Sean, and his grandmother to hopefully find him some new birds. Sean’s 11 years old and got quite interested in birding last year. He’s totally into reading all he can, asking questions, learning bird calls, and busy working on his lifelist despite being a bit limited in being able to do much birding. On the day of our trip, his lifelist was at 109 species….with more than 40 species that day, he’d get to add 11 more lifers, most of which we got better looks at than I’ve ever had. We’d get a Ferruginous Hawk on the way into the Bosque, and next at theVisitor Center get great looks at both a male and female Pyrrhuloxia. Here’s the female,

Female Pyrrhuloxia

and a little later, the male.

Male Pyrrhuloxia

Another nice sighting was a number of Green-winged Teal.

Green-winged Teal

Later, at the Boardwalk pond, Sean would instantly spot and identify a Marsh Wren (a bird I’ve rarely seen out in the open).

Marsh Wren

On the pond itself, we’d add both a Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

and Long-billed Dowitcher.

Long-billed Dowitcher

The picture of the Long-billed Dowitcher above was actually taken a week later when Rebecca and I returned on another visit (see below). On the later trip, we got astonishing views of a Virginia Rail from the boardwalk.

Virginia Rail

Almost certainly a lifer for me, and not a species one ever sees close and out in the open. (Sorry, Sean, maybe someday you’ll see one.)

Sean would also get to add Verdin to his lifelist after we were surprised to see one while eating lunch at the Eagle Scout deck. American Kestrel, Song Sparrow, Phainopepla, and Tundra Swan were others he’d add.


Early Saturday morning, Rebecca and I met at Isleta Lakes hoping to see some of the Bald Eagle show that takes place there every year. We’d see a couple of eagles and some other good waterfowl, but thought we might have better luck earlier in the morning the next day before heading on to Bosque del Apache. My best photo the first day is of this guy.

Bald Eagle

Later, I stopped by Tingley Ponds and the Rio Grande Nature Center before catching up with Rebecca for lunch at her house. At Tingley, I’d have fun photographing some of the Wood Ducks, the male in the front couple here putting on quite a display trying to get the female’s attention.

Wood Duck

Next at the Rio Grande Nature Center, the Brown Thrasher that had teased me back on Christmas Eve was busy popping out of the brush to get a quick snack from the feeder before again disappearing. This time I managed at least one good shot of it.

Brown Thrasher

Sunday morning, it was off to Isleta Lakes and then the Bosque. We had better luck at Isleta getting there before the sun came over the mountains, but still not as good as we’d hoped. Here’s my best shot of one of the immature Bald Eagles that morning.

Bald Eagle

Also really like the lighting on this shot of a female Common Merganser.

Common Merganser (f)

Toward the end of last week, I managed to get out a couple of times to look around for a few birds. Having heard owls were again being seen near Calabacillas Arroyo had me taking a look. (This is the time of year Great Horned Owls will be choosing nesting sites and start nesting, so I’ll be paying attention.) Got lucky and easily spotted one there, but quickly left to hopefully minimize any disturbance by my presence.

Great Horned Owl

Next, I wandered along the ditch at Alameda Open Space hoping to spot the Wilson’s Snipe I’d seen there in mid-December. No luck on the snipe, but I was totally surprised by how well my photo of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet turned out.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Finally, on a walk at Pueblo Montano it was fun to watch this Northern Flicker repeatedly dipping its beak in the ditch for a sip of water,

Northern Flicker

and soon after finding some American Wigeon paddling along.

American Wigeon


About joeschelling

Birding, butterflies, nature photography, and travel blog from right here in Albuquerque New Mexico.
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