Monday, March 19, 2007

Spring break part 2- Bosque del Apache NWR

The best thing about going to Albuquerque is going to the Bosque del Apache NWR (even if it is 90 miles away). I had dazzling memories of it from my last visit so I had high hopes for this trip.

It was unusually warm there this time (at least, a LOT warmer than the last time I went) and many of the birds I had seen last time were replaced by ducks (in breeding plumage!)

[Click on any of the pictures to view a larger version.]

This gives you an idea of the sheer volume of ducks on the lakes (the ones in flight were mostly Green-winged Teal). Ducks on the water- “Where’s everyone going?”

Northern Shoveler

Cinnamon Teal

I didn’t get the appeal of ducks before (probably because the one time I went to look specifically for ducks it was freezing and windy) but now I’m a believer. My absolute favorites are Ruddy Ducks. You have to love those stiff little tails (which makes me think of them as ‘rudder ducks’) and big white cheeks.


There were lots of Pied-billed Grebes around but they all pulled the sinking act on me when I tried to photograph them. This one sank just like the rest of them, but when I waited around, he came back up with a fish!

He seemed very proud of the fish and carried it around for a while before eating it.

Edit: this bird is NOT a Wilson's Snipe, but a Long-billed Dowitcher- thanks to the members of the Georgia Orn. Society list-serve for pointing this out.

Lifebird: Greater Yellowlegs! The first thing I thought when I saw him was “You’re not a duck…”

The sandhill cranes may have been gone, but there were still a lot of geese hanging around.

This was a flock of both Ross's and Snow Geese canoodling together- you have to click on the picture to see a larger, more focused version.

My introduction into the world of shorebirds wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t have a Mystery Shorebird. They are the fall warblers of the water. What is this guy!? He wasn’t very big, about the same size as say, a Spotted Sandpiper.

Note the intriguing white eyebrow visible in this shot...

Perhaps a Lesser Yellowlegs?

A flock of Western Meadowlarks flew by and settled into a ditch on the side of the road. It was thrilling seeing that multitude of yellow chests with the dramatic black Vs going by.

After much suspense, I finally got to see a flock, or 'bevy' as they say, of Gambel's Quail! They were rather elusive when it came to photos but I got a shot of this one sneaking coyly into the brush. They scuttled around and clucked indignantly.

As much as I enjoyed this trip, there were some characters that I missed seeing from last time. To honor their memory, I've resurrected some photos from '06.

American Avocets

I did get to see many Harriers, but I didn't get to see one having a roadside meal, like this female was last time. Maybe an immature red-tail?

White-faced Ibis: seen from blind

Virginia Rail: also from blind

And last but not least, 'Miguel,' a Yellow Grosbeak who was visiting a feeder in my aunt's neighborhood.

Until next time!

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