Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nice Harris's Hawk just south of Alamogordo, NM

I found this Harris's Hawk south of Alamogordo near the turn off to Oliver Lee State Park. In the bottom pic it looks like it is wearing that electric pole thing as a helmet. SeEtta

Monarch Butterflies also at Oliver Lee State Park

I saw 5-10 of these Monarch Butterflies (only 5 if they followed me but more if I was seeing different butterflies) also at Oliver Lee State Park, most in a riparian area in Dog Canyon shown below. This is a small park so I was impressed to see this many Monarchs there. SeEtta

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Empid spp and other finds at Oliver Lee State Park, NM

I birded Oliver Lee State Park just south of Alamogordo, NM yesterday and found it to be a jewel both in nice birds and great scenery. I found this empidonax flycatcher species that seems to be a little late in it's migration through here. I also saw a Townsend's Warbler and an unidentified warbler--not bad for this late in October in this small park.
In addition to other expected species such as Black-troated Sparrows there were about 4 Rock Wrens near the Visitor Center who were quite inquisitive when I made squeaky noises with my mouth. I have found other Rock Wrens to be less skittish than many birds but this one came within a few feet of me and kept circling me even though my dog Chase was there with me.
After about 10 minutes the first Rock Wren was joined by several others that also came quite close. SeEtta

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cactus Wren-hidden (sort of) in mesquite

I found this Cactus Wren and a second (partner?) in a mesquite shrub where it believed it was hidden from my view. I took the top 3 pics through the foliage while the bird seemed assured I could not see it. 
I am glad I got these close ups as I find it has very pretty brown eyes.
Then I carefully walked around a foot or so to get an open shot and was able to get the rest of these pics. This is another iconic southwestern species for me. SeEtta  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Phainopepla at Percha Dam SP, glad it hadn't migrated south yet

Phainopeplas are iconic southwest birds but most migrate to Mexico for the winter. So I was delighted to spot this male when I took the trail from the Percha Dam State Park campground. He was about a quarter mile south of the campground and 50 or so feet up a tree.
He called a couple of times and at one point I heard another Phainopepla call but did not see the second bird.
Their shiny black plumage and whispy crest plus red eyes make these males most distinctive. SeEtta

Friday, October 24, 2014

'White' crane at Bosque del Apache "hooks up" with a typical Sandhill Crane

I stopped by Bosque del Apache NWR on my way south. As I drove one of the Refuge roads I saw 2 cranes flying close and saw that one was the unusual 'white' crane that the Refuge has identified as a leucistic Sandhill Crane. There had been concern by crane fans that it would be rejected by the other cranes and it certainly had been by itself when I and others observed it over the past week. As can be seen by the photos below the 'white' crane and it's new friend stayed together after landing and proceeded to feed together for the next 20 min while I birded nearby.
The bottom pic shows the 'white' crane and it's friend still foraging together much later. To left of them is a pair of Lesser Sandhill Cranes (the 'white' crane and it's friend are both Greater Sandhill Cranes and this photo shows the difference between these subspecies nicely) that had been foraging nearby. Don't know if the 'white' crane and the typical Sandhill Crane hanging with it will last but they appeared to be good buddies for about 2 hours until I left the Refuge. SeEtta

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Nice large flock of Pinyon Jays-Magdalena Mountain area in NM

Yesterday I birded around the Magdalena Mountains just west of Socorro,NM. Birding was slow in famous Water Canyon in which a lot of rain fell for the prior two days. I was delighted to find this very nice flock of 150-200 Pinyon Jays on the lower slope leading up to Jordan Canyon.

Pinyon Jays are a species of concern across the west and in New Mexico so I am always delighted to see large flocks of them. I live in a county with a lot of pinyon juniper habitat so I see them at various times of the year and a flock of this size is about the largest I have seen there. SeEtta

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

'White' crane among the Sandhill Cranes at Bosque del Apache NWR

This 'white' crane showed up last week at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. It is clearly not an albino as it does have color not only in feathers but in eyes and in it's bill. The Refuge states it is a leucistic bird.

Though this 'white' cranes mostly whitish feathering fits with leucism I don't know why it's bill is so lightly colored.

I saw this unusual crane several times this past week. It has been in the company of Sandhill Cranes though I have not seen it interact with any.