An Update from New Mexico

Yessss!  Festival of the Cranes is a fun event!

Snow Goose Dawn Fly-Out Bosque del Apache NWR 2011-11-18 photo: Greg Miller

The mornings were chilly but not a deterrent for birders wanting to experience the energy of the dawn fly-out of 30,000 snow geese.  Seeing all these birds get up at once and being surrounded by the deafening sound of goose calls and flapping of wings…well…just so overwhelming there is no way to adequately describe it.  What a thrill!

But not all the white geese were Snow Geese…

Ross's Goose digiscoped from the Flight Deck at Bosque del Apache NWR 2011-11-17 photo: Greg Miller

But after all, this is The Festival of the Cranes.  Here’s few (of the 10,000) in the light of dawn.

A few of the 10000 Sandhill Cranes Bosque del Apache NWR 2011-11-18 photo: Greg Miller

And here’s a Sandhill Crane near the Flight Deck at Bosque del Apache NWR.

Sandhill Crane digiscoped near the Flight Deck at Bosque del Apache NWR 2011-11-17 photo: Greg Miller

Only 140 miles North of Socorro, NM lies the 10,500-foot peak–Sandia Crest.  It is near the southernmost part of the range where all 3 rosy-finches can be found.  And, some may argue it is the easiest place to see these erratic birds.  One can sit inside a warm room, order a meal, and sip on a cup of hot chocolate while viewing all 3 species of rosy-finches at the feeder outside the window!  Rosy-finches are voracious eaters and a flock will descend on a feeder and eat as if they were in some terrible hurry to go somewhere on a tight schedule.  And then they woosh away as fast and hurried as they came in.

The view from about a mile above Albuquerque in elevation is stunning.

The majestic view from atop Sandia Crest near Albuquerque NM 2011-11-18 photo: Greg Miller

The wait for the show of rosy-finches is helped by watching the other “common” species.

Mountain Chickadee Sandia Crest NM 2011-11-18 photo: Greg Miller

Dark-eyed (red-backed) Junco Sandia Crest NM 2011-11-18 photo: Greg Miller

Steller's Jay Sandia Crest NM 2011-11-18 photo: Greg Miller

And finally, the stars of the show, the rosy-finches.

Black Rosy-finches at the feeder at Sandia Crest NM 2011-11-18 photo: Greg Miller

Brown-capped Rosy-finch with 2 Black Rosy-finches Sandia Crest NM 2011-11-18 photo: Greg Miller

That’s all the photos for now.  Watch in the future for a blog on the Rosy-Finch Project at Sandia Crest and the interesting work that is happening with banding and studying rosy-finch movements.

5 thoughts on “An Update from New Mexico

  1. Thanks for the great images. They brought back great memories. I was in Albuquerque for 5 days, and saw some great birds with visits to the Petroglyphs, Rio grand Nature center, Bosque del Apache on Friday of the festival and Sandia Crest on Sunday. What a blast.

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