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.

Winning. Duh.

The house where I grew up--looking North

Pretty cool view looking North from my boyhood home, eh?  When that field was less manicured it used to be home to several pairs of Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks and Savannah Sparrows.  Meadowlarks are still there, but Bobolinks are less common now.  And that little pond has been a temporary hangout for some fascinating birds including Snow Goose, White-fronted Goose, and even Ross’s Goose.  One time a Bonaparte’s Gull dropped in and circled the pond a few times on it’s way North.  But I digress.  See?  I am already distracted.  I’ll start over again then.

Nooo.  This is not a blog about Charlie Sheen.  Haha!  But it *IS* about winning.  But what is winning?  Really.  Winning is pretty easy when we talk about sports.  Or is it?  In sports many folks measure winning by a score.  For football or baseball, for instance, the higher score “wins” and the lower score “loses”.  In golf, the lowest score wins and all the other other higher scores lose.  But really, that only represents a single game.  So if you win a tennis match, does that make you a “winner”?  What if you already lost 58 matches?  Are you still a winner?  Well yes, you did win–a match.  A single match.  But a winner? Continue reading

A Day of Rarity-chasing

March 29, 2011

I left the house at 5:30am to meet birding friend Cheryl Harner near Mansfield.  From there we drove to La Rue, Ohio to try for the Hoary Redpoll that has been visiting a feeder in town.  We were not disappointed.  We found the bird within minutes of our morning arrival.  Pictures of this bird can be found at Steve Jones photo gallery, currently  in the Unsorted category.

We birded Big Island Wildlife Area since we were in the immediate vicinity.  We found several Greater Yellowlegs and both Northern Shovelers and Northern Pintails are still present–two extraordinarily beautiful species of waterfowl.  Tree Swallows were back en force.  They were found flying around all the ponds and even out over the fields.  A few are even staking out nest boxes already, not wasting any time after their arrival a few days ago.

Tree Swallow, Big Island WA photo: Greg Miller

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