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This blog is coming back.

I’m in Ireland!  My family and I arrived last week for our stay here.  We’ll be here for 18 months or longer for my wife’s job.  Since I started Bothering Birds because all I was posting was bird photos, I felt that I really shouldn’t put family and fish out of water stuff there.  So I’ll be using this space to share our experiences of moving and adjusting to another country.  

So far, so good. Our flight over was fairly uneventful.  Our house is nice, our town is nice. We chose to live a bit out in the country and was lucky to find a place in Maynooth, Co. Kildare.  It’s 5 minutes from my wife’s workplace and, so far, fairly quiet. Our house is really close to the main street and shopping.  We can walk to the main street in 5 minutes.  There are also some universities in town, National Irish University being the largest.  So the mix of people is fairly nice.  We’re still sorting out schools for my daughter and I’m still adjusting to driving on the left side of the road.  
Since I last posted here, we spent 3 months in Portland Oregon, again for my wife’s work.  While there I had all of my photography equipment stolen from our van. I decided to replace my really good gear with a Canon point and shoot, which I’m not regretting.  It’s good for bright sunlight, and can fit in a big pocket.  But it’s not weatherproof and not good in the shade, which seems to be the norm here.  I may try and replace my 7D and 100-400mm lens with a Rebel and a 300mm f/4, but the prices here in Ireland are really prohibitive.  So basically, I’ll post photos as I can.

We haven’t really been to Dublin yet, we’ve been busy stocking the house and getting used to all of the odd little differences.  There are switches for everything, each outlet has a little on/off switch and everything else seems to be redundant.  There are no electrical outlets or switches in the bathrooms, I mean toilets, so that’s been odd too.  But the showers and actual toilets are awesome.  The Irish are really good at hot water and high pressure showers, a welcome change from New Mexico.  The coffee situation is poor though.  I can’t seem to find any beans, not that I have a grinder yet either.  But instant coffee seems to be the norm with finely ground stuff as the other option.  There are plenty of coffee shops around, but nothing great so far.  But the bread is awesome. The food in general is great.  I think it’s the EU, but there really isn’t crap in the food.  The ingredients are really basic and without extra food coloring or preservatives. The ingredients in a bottle of Coke are 2 lines long.  My wife wants to stay here for that reason alone. 

Okay, enough boring people with this stuff.  If you are interested in seeing what my family and I are doing over here in Ireland, then keep following.  I’ll try and post once a week or more.  If you want to see some fuzzy bird photos, then check out Bothering Birds.  

 

Cheers! 

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2013 Field Guide Challenge Results

Back in January of 2013 I gave myself a challenge to see all of the birds in a small Field Guide that I had.  The name is “Birds of New Mexico Field Guide” by Stan Tekiela.  It’s a common book that is sold all over New Mexico in almost every book store or gift shop in almost every park or refuge.  I’m pretty sure that I got mine at the Rio Grande Nature Center.  It was far from resembling anything like a Big Year, it only has 145 species in it.  Although it is a bit padded by listing males and females of certain species on different pages.  The book is set-up by primary color of the bird, which is handy to beginner birders.

By the end of the year I had seen almost all of the birds, all but 7 of them.  But there is a bit of a caveat involved, six of the birds in the book I saw outside of New Mexico.  My biggest disappointment is that I failed to see a Cactus Wren in 2013.  And I spent lots of time, maybe 20 trips, specifically looking for one in New Mexico and in Arizona.  And I’m pretty sure that I saw 2 Verdin at Bosque del Apache, but I was never 100% certain, so I never counted them.  I did see their nests there, and got to see plenty in Arizona.  Scott’s Oriole was another one that I spent time looking for, and maybe saw one, but was never sure.   And I didn’t get many chances to look for American Dippers, but when I did I came up empty.  But 10 days into 2014 I saw one less than 10 miles from my house.  The other ones that I dipped on were Dusky Grouse, Lazuli Bunting, Common Poorwill and Painted Redstart.  All of those would be lifers for me too.

What I did manage to do was to photograph almost every bird that I did see, and here’s a link to a Flickr set with the photos of the birds that I have.  But let me say that this is my last post for Burgh to Burque.  Writing here has helped me out, I learned a lot, and even got to meet some people through it.  But since I’m bidding adieu to Albuquerque in just 3 weeks, I feel that the name and original intended theme no longer work.  So I’ve started a new blog, Bothering Birds, and I hope that you check it out and keep up with my further adventures in the Pacific Northwest and Europe there.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

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Year End PA Trip part 2

I began writing about our trip to Pittsburgh for Christmas and my quest to see Snowy Owls in my previous post here.  The tl/dr is that I spend Christmas Eve looking for them around Amish Farms with no luck.   My second chance to go looking would be the Saturday after Christmas.  I had volunteered to help out with Pittsburgh’s CBC that morning and was going to try to head to Erie and Presque Isle State Park (PISP) afterwards.

But before any of that, I got a surprise lifer while visiting some friends the day after Christmas.  They live in an awesome house in the woods outside of the city and are always having woodpeckers trying to make houses in their wood-sided house.  I was watching their feeder when a little brown shape was making a visit.  I looked twice and grabbed my camera.

Carolina Wren, Pittsburgh PA

Carolina Wren, Pittsburgh PA

A Carolina Wren! It was joined by some Black-Capped Chickadees and these Tufted Titmice.

Tufted Titmice, Pittsburgh PA

Tufted Titmice, Pittsburgh PA

The last time that we were there I got to see a Red-Bellied Woodpecker making a visit, and it’s ripe Pileated WP territory, I didn’t see any of those.  Saturday morning I was up early and found my way to the CBC meeting place.  I finally got to meet Steve Gosser, who is a good photographer from the area and was coordinating out part of the count. I was assigned a place with 2 other people and we set off.  What would signal the tone for that part of the day, a tree had fallen across the road that we had to take to get to our area.

Blocked Path, Indianola PA

Blocked Path, Indianola PA

Despite it not being very large, the three of us couldn’t budge it.  Lucky for us a good Samaritan with a chainsaw was waiting for his boss nearby and cut the tree apart for us.  I gave him some Christmas cookies for his time.  But as we got closer to our area, we saw lots of vehicles belonging to hunters along the side of the road.  We didn’t have anything orange to wear, and I didn’t feel like taking my chances, so we stuck to the roads.  It was fairly uneventful, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, some Downy Woodpeckers, Chickadees and lots of Cardinals.  We went to another spot that we couldn’t get to, but got to see a Golden-Crowned Kinglet flitting around some pine trees.  We were on our way back to the meet-up spot so that I could drop my passengers off when we stopped near a graveyard to see if we could spot a hawk that was seen there earlier.

We didn’t see anything near the road, but a hawk-shape was spotted on the other side of the cemetery. Looking at it through binoculars I ID’d it as a new bird for me, a Red-Shouldered Hawk!   The orange striping on the breast was unmistakable and it lacked the long tail of an Accipiter.

Red-Shouldered Hawk, Pittsburgh PA

Red-Shouldered Hawk, Pittsburgh PA

I tried getting closer but it decided to fly off and I was so amazed at how beautiful it was flying over that I didn’t get any more photos of it.  This has got to be the best looking hawk of the bunch.  Maybe even the bird of my trip.

I was soon off on my way to Erie and PISP, a little more than 2 hours away from where I was. I got there much later than I had planned and drove around the peninsula twice before I found the trial to Gull Point.  It was crazy seeing the amount of people coming and going with binoculars, cameras and scopes.  Some of the people even had opera glasses.  The walk to where the owls were seen ended up being a mile and a half of mud and sand.  I had never been to the area before, but someone actually had posted signs to where the owls were at various intersections with other trails.  I was almost at Gull Point when someone said that there was an owl off to the right.  I followed a short trail and saw a big, dark shape out on the ice.

Snowy Owl on Ice, PISP Erie PA

Snowy Owl on Ice, PISP Erie PA

It was a Snowy Owl, finally. It was sitting there staring into the Sun and eventually flew off and landed on a breakwater a bit further out.  I kept walking out onto the point to where another owl or 2 were being seen.  I saw lots of ducks out on the water, along with some lifer Red-Breasted Mergansers.   The other owl was sitting out on some broken ice that was surrounded on both sides by sand.  And people were getting really close to it, within a 100 feet.  I stuck to the viewing platform and managed to see it fine.

Snowy Owl, PISP Erie PA

Snowy Owl, PISP Erie PA

I was in shock at the people who were trying to get close enough to get photos with their cellphone cameras.  There is a reason that some of us spend thousands on camera gear.  Well, I walked out to the point and tried to get a good look at the various ducks that were sitting out there sleeping.

Redheads, PISP Erie PA

Redheads, PISP Erie PA

I also saw a Greater Scaup.  It was with some other ducks that I couldn’t get a good look at, as well as a smaller Lesser Scaup.

Greater Scaup, PISP Erie PA

Greater Scaup, PISP Erie PA

I also saw some Long-Tailed Ducks and what may have been a kind of Scoter, but I couldn’t be sure enough.  But the light was really going and the Sun was soon to set, so I needed to head back to the parking lot.  But on the way I saw a small bird hopping about in the underbrush.  It was a type of Sparrow and as typical for them, wouldn’t sit still for very long.  But I thought that it was an American Tree Sparrow and the photos back me up.

American Tree Sparrow, PISP Erie PA

American Tree Sparrow, PISP Erie PA

I hiked for a half mile more and then turned a corner to see a group of people standing ahead and looking East.  I looked to see what they were looking at and saw a third Snowy Owl. This one was way up at the top of a tree, and just as the Sun was setting.

Snowy Owl, PISP Erie PA

Snowy Owl, PISP Erie PA

The owl stayed up in the tree long enough for me to get pretty close.  And by pretty close, meaning that I walked up to where a group of people where already standing for a few minutes without the owl getting spooked. I managed to get some really good photos of it.

Snowy Owl, PISP Erie PA

Snowy Owl, PISP Erie PA

It would occasionally flex it’s wings, but never flew.

Snowy Owl, PISP Erie PA

Snowy Owl, PISP Erie PA

The Sun was gone and Taps being played at the nearby Coastguard Station made me bid farewell to this beautiful bird.  I managed to get a nice view of the lake before I made it back to my car.

Lake Erie, PISP Erie PA

Lake Erie, PISP Erie PA

So maybe I spent too much time and energy on seeing the Snowy Owls while on a short vacation.  But they were really great to see, and I managed to see some other nice birds along the way.  I use the Google Tracker app on my phone to see how far I hiked for ebird purposes and the track from my visit to Presque Isle State Park was an interesting one.

My wondering, PISP Erie PA

My wondering, PISP Erie PA

Over 4 miles in mud.  Needless to say there was plenty of dry ground out there at Gull Point that I didn’t need waders.  And you can make out the spots where I walked off of the main trail to see the three owls.

I’m going to post 2 more times on this blog and then move to my new one, Bothering Birds.  We leave Albuquerque in a month and have lots to do.  But I want to post a best-of from 2013 and conclude my Birds of New Mexico Guidebook challenge (which I didn’t make).

Thanks for making it this far,

cheers.

 

 

 

 

 

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Year End PA Trip part 1

My family and I ventured back to Pittsburgh for Christmas.  We had a fairly uneventful trip back a few days before and made it to my parent’s house in Tarentum around midnight.  I was up early the next day, Christmas Eve, to go look for Snowy Owls with my oldest Nephew.  My initial plan was to go right to Presque Isle State Park (PISP) at Erie where I knew there were some owls. But I had heard that there were some owls in some Amish fields about half way between Pittsburgh and Erie, which would give us longer to look for owls and then get back to my Grandmother’s house in time to see Santa make a pre-midnight visit to the kids.  We hemmed and hawed all the way up I-79, looking at the radar for snow at PISP waiting for the 5 inches of snow that they were supposed to get.

I finally decided to go to the farmland instead of Lake Erie at the last minute.  We had directions to a location with 2 owls that had been reliably seen for the last few days.  On the way I’m pretty sure that a flock of Snow Buntings flew over our car, but it’s really hard to pull over on the side of the road in PA, hardly any shoulders and everyone has to drive fast and be up your butt.  So when I did stop we couldn’t locate the birds again, so I don’t know if they were or not.  But we soon saw a hawk sitting in a tree and I turned off to get a better look.  It ended up being an oddly colored Red-Tailed Hawk (thanks to FB and r/whatsthisbird for clarifying the ID).

Red-Tailed Hawk, Lawrence County PA

Red-Tailed Hawk, Lawrence County PA

We soon located the area of the Owls and the entire place was snowy and looked like Snowy Owls.

Amish Farms, Lawrence County PA

Amish Farms, Lawrence County PA

And it was cold, cold and windy.  We were slowly driving around the roads when I caught a flash of white wings off in the distance!  I pulled over, jumped out of the car and started taking photos of the bird.

Not and Owl 1, Northern Harrier, Lawrence County PA

Not an Owl 1, Northern Harrier, Lawrence County PA

But as it got closer I could see that it had dark wing-tips, and Snowy Owls don’t have that.  It was a beautiful male Northern Harrier, not a Snowy Owl.

We drove on and soon saw a raptor shape flying towards the car, I once again hopped out and started taking photos as the bird flew low enough that I may have been able to jump up and give it a high-five.

Not an Owl 2, Rough-Legged Hawk, Lawrence County PA

Not an Owl 2, Rough-Legged Hawk, Lawrence County PA

It was definitely not a Snowy Owl, but a beautiful Rough-Legged Hawk, which continued on it’s merry way.  We drove around some more, we made a few laps of the roads where the Owls were supposed to be, but were coming up short. There were some other people driving around too and nobody was seeing any Owls.  We ended up seeing one more raptor, another Red-Tailed Hawk, but not a Snowy Owl.

Red-Tailed Hawk, Lawrence County PA

Not an Owl 3, Red-Tailed Hawk, Lawrence County PA

We were at the point where we had to head back if we weren’t going to be late, and I had been in Pittsburgh for a day and had barely seen anyone except for my parents and my nephew; who by this point was only looking for Angry Birds on his phone.

I decided to check ebird one more time for any other sightings and found one on our way back.  We pulled up to the area, which was a field behind some houses. I scanned the fields and spotted a white owl shape off in a field. I asked one of the homeowners that was out if we could walk through the yard to get a closer look at his owl and he said “what owl?” and then “sure”.  So we walk into the snow and I set up my camera and tripod and I’m so excited and high-fiving my nephew.  A Snowy Owl, finally!

Snowy Owl?, Lawrence County PA

Snowy Owl?, Lawrence County PA

I could see it lifting up it’s head and looking around, my nephew couldn’t see it, but I kept pointing and saying “right there, see!?!” but he didn’t.  So I decided to show him a zoomed photo on my camera when I got a good look at the owl…

Not an Owl 4, Lawrence County PA

Not an Owl 4, Lawrence County PA

… and it was a fu#(@&g bag.  The wind was blowing it up and the handle-holes was making it look like it had a dark face and the writing towards the back looked like dark feathers.  I was devastated, too upset to even laugh about it then.  I swore a few times, asked my nephew to forget what he heard, which he responded to by saying “I’ve heard worse from grandma” (which is true), packed up the gear and went back to meet the rest of my family for Christmas Eve dinner and a visit from Santa.

Thus endeth part 1 of my tale, to be continued…

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Albuquerque Christmas Bird Count 2013

This past Sunday was the local Christmas Bird Count. I had a sick kid at 3AM that almost kept me from getting out.  But my lovely wife said that she could handle things at home, and the worst seemed to have passed.
I was assigned a pretty large area with some great local birders, a husband and wife team.  We met at their house and did some counting from their driveway as we waited for the Sun to come up from behind the mountains.  The surprise bird was a Chickadee singing from across the street.  But everything else were the normal Rock Pigeons, Crows and some Doves.  As we loaded up the car and headed off, our area of responsibility was explained further and it was really big place for the few of us.

We hit a couple of local parks looking for Peregrine Falcons and Merlin, but didn’t see either ones.  We saw lots of Dark-Eyed Juncos and a flock of 40-50 Bushtits though. We soon made our way to the Journal Center area where our group’s target birds were located.  Supposedly there was a solitary Pygmy Nuthatch in an area of pine trees spread out over quite a large area.

But the first birds that we saw were Cedar Waxwings, lots of Cedar Waxwings, maybe a 150 of them in the various trees.

Cedar Waxwings and a Flicker, Journal Center, ABQ NM

Cedar Waxwings and a Flicker, Journal Center, ABQ NM

We got a real treat when a pair of Cooper’s Hawks flew in over a building and all of the birds in the area left at once.  The pair of hawks settled into some trees and they also ended up being our first raptors of the day.

We set off to get some caffeine and to try and find that Nuthatch.  There are lots of trees lining the various parking lots and roads, but nothing quite resembling a forest.  We did see more Cedar Waxwings eating some cherries.

Cedar Waxwing, Journal Center, ABQ NM

Cedar Waxwing, Journal Center, ABQ NM

Cedar Waxwing, Journal Center, ABQ NM

Cedar Waxwing, Journal Center, ABQ NM

And this Ruby-Crowned Kinglet doing a decent Hummingbird impression.

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Journal Center, ABQ NM

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Journal Center, ABQ NM

But we got a really nice treat when I spotted a familiar yellow bird in one of stands of pine trees.

Pine Warbler, Journal Center, ABQ NM

Pine Warbler, Journal Center, ABQ NM

It was a Pine Warbler, and a different one that the one that I spotted at UNM the previous week.  We couldn’t believe it.  It let us get some good looks at it before flying off into some other sycamore trees.

Pine Warbler, Journal Center, ABQ NM

Pine Warbler, Journal Center, ABQ NM

And not soon after this we saw another odd warbler, an Orange-Crowned Warbler.  It didn’t stick around as long as the Pine Warbler did, but I did get one okay shot of it’s backside.

Orange-Crowed Warbler (honest!), Journal Center, ABQ NM

Orange-Crowed Warbler (honest!), Journal Center, ABQ NM

There were plenty of Yellow-Rumped Warblers and American Robins in the area too.  But we never did see that Pygmy Nuthatch, and apparently missed a Great Horned Owl what was also in the area.  But other people came by and found them after we had moved on.  We spent some time around the Albuquerque Academy where we saw lots of White-Crowned Sparrows and this Red-Tailed Hawk.

Red-Tailed Hawk, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque NM

Red-Tailed Hawk, Albuquerque Academy, Albuquerque NM

We also added some woodpeckers and a Say’s Phoebe to our tally.  After that we went to Oso Arroyo and found some Scaled Quail, Curve-Billed Thrashers and a Spotted Towhee.  Plus no ABQ bird count wouldn’t be complete without some Greater Roadrunners. We saw some more Cooper’s Hawks flying around too, but no Crissal Thrashers nor any Cactus Wrens. After we trekked back to our car we drove around looking for Merlin and Falcons again, with no more luck and headed back to Ashli and Larry’s house, our starting point.

There reports from earlier in the day of a Brant Goose at the Nature Center, a very rare bird and a surprise for the count. So we decided to race the setting Sun and try to see it before the park closed.
We made it to the ponds but no geese were around.  There was a pretty group of Common Mergansers on the Candelaria Wetlands.

Common Mergansers, RGNC,  ABQ NM

Common Mergansers, RGNC, ABQ NM

We had heard that it was last seen on the Rio Grande, so we ran down there hoping to get a look before the gates were closed on us.  But alas, there were no Geese there at all either.  But we did see a group of 4 Ruddy Ducks and a Red-Tailed Hawk sitting down on a sandbar. And a large flock of Blackbirds were putting on quite the show for us across the river.

Blackbird Flock, RGNC, ABQ NM

Blackbird Flock, RGNC, ABQ NM

Blackbird Flock, RGNC, ABQ NM

Blackbird Flock, RGNC, ABQ NM

We ran back to our cars before closing time and got to see a really nice view of the Sandias in the setting Sun.

Pink Sandias and Moon at Sunset, RGNC, ABQ NM

Pink Sandias and Moon at Sunset, RGNC, ABQ NM

What a fitting end to a long and fruitful day counting birds.  At the tally party we found out that there were 118 species counted with one provisional.  Our Orange-Crowned Warbler was the only one seen and the Pine Warbler at the university was seen again, but 2 is always better than none. I wonder if there was a bird of the day?  My guess was that it was the Brant, which I hope to see this week.

My last Albuquerque CBC for a few years, I’m starting to get sad about moving.  We’re down to 6 weeks left in New Mexico and fewer chances for me to get the last birds that I’d like to see in.  And I’m really going to miss all of the friends that I’ve made here in the birding community. But I’ll save that for my year end and best-of blog.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosy Finches and Sandia Peak

I headed out last Friday, the 13th, to see some Rosy Finches at Sandia Peak.  But as I left the house, I noticed that once again the crest was socked in with clouds and everywhere else was generally cloudy.  The last time that I wanted to go up the road and Crest House were closed because of snow.  So I decided to head to the Rio Grande Nature Center and see if the sky would improve.  I was pretty much the only person there when the gate opened and most of the water in the ponds were frozen, so there wasn’t much going on.  I did get to see a tree full of Cedar Waxwings.

Cedar Waxwings, RGNC SP, ABQ NM

Cedar Waxwings, RGNC SP, ABQ NM

And some Western Bluebirds were hanging out near the levy and bridge.

Western Bluebirds, RGNC SP, ABQ NM

Western Bluebirds, RGNC SP, ABQ NM

There were a few ducks out on the water and some White-Breasted Nuthatches were flying around.  Plus I saw 2 kinds of Chickadee, Mountain and Black-Capped.  But all in all it was a slow morning.  I found out that the Cest House was going to be open, so I decided to brave the snowy road and the clouds and head up to see some finches.

The road was dicey in a few places, but the AWD in my Honda Element is really effective.  I finally made it to the top and the conditions were pretty horrid.

Sandia Crest House, NM

Sandia Crest House, NM

I walked into the snack bar area and saw a couple people already waiting for the Rosys to show up.  But they were there since much earlier and hadn’t seen them yet.  But before I could even get my hat off or put down my backpack, there they were at the feeder.  What luck!

Black Rosy Finch, Sandia Crest House, NM

Black Rosy Finch, Sandia Crest House, NM

Brown-Capped Rosy Finch, Sandia Crest House, NM

Brown-Capped Rosy Finch, Sandia Crest House, NM

There was a smallish flock of a dozen birds with the majority being the Black Rosy type.  But there were a few Brown-Capped mixed in, but no sign of the Gray-Crowned ones.  But the finches at for a few minutes and then took off again.  One of the people waiting for the finches had some really nice gear, Canon 1Dx and 600mm f/4 lens.  I introduced myself and it turns out that he is a really good photographer down from Seattle, Paul Bannick.  They had been waiting for hours without them showing up and here I was walking in with them there.

There were plenty of birds taking turns at the feeders. The majority of them were Mountain Chickadees.

Mountain Chickadee, Sandia Crest House, NM

Mountain Chickadee, Sandia Crest House, NM

And some Dark-Eyed Juncos and Nuthatches too.

White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sandia Crest House, NM

White-Breasted Nuthatch, Sandia Crest House, NM

Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Sandia Crest House, NM

Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Sandia Crest House, NM

A few Steller’s Jays were also visiting the feeder and being their usual bossy selves.  But they had ice sticking to the ends of their crest feathers.  The Jays ended up looking a bit silly with their crests flopping over this way and that.

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest House, NM

Steller’s Jay, Sandia Crest House, NM

But everyone was there for the Rosy finches.  Another couple arrived from El Paso to see them.  The weather continued to be so bad, we were constantly in the cloud deck and a layer of ice was covering everything outside.

Frosty viewer, Sandia Crest House, NM

Frosty viewer, Sandia Crest House, NM

And soon our cameras were looking like that too, but we didn’t want the fogging up by bringing them inside when the finches were gone.

We soon figured out that they were on a 60-70 minute cycle of visits and were ready for them after their 2nd or 3rd trip to the feeder.  They would fly into some naked aspen trees below the Crest House’s deck and then fly into the deck area in ones and twos.

Rosy Finches waiting for the feeder, Sandia Crest House, NM

Rosy Finches waiting for the feeder, Sandia Crest House, NM

But when they showed up, they were busy.

Rosy Finches and Nuthatch, Sandia Crest House, NM, Sandia Crest House, NM

Rosy Finches and Nuthatch, Sandia Crest House, NM, Sandia Crest House, NM

Black Rosy Finch, Sandia Crest House, NM

Black Rosy Finch, Sandia Crest House, NM

I would have liked to stay there longer to see if some Grey-Crowned were going to show up, but after a few visits it was time for me to head back down the mountain.  And as soon as I made it to my car, the Sun made an appearance.

Snowy Peak, Sandia Crest House, NM

Snowy Peak, Sandia Crest House, NM

Near the ski area I saw some Wild Turkeys running up the hill and into the trees.  I can’t figure out if their white feathers are a Southwest thing or not.  But they are certainly lighter than the ones back in PA.

Wild Turkeys, Cibola NF, NM

Wild Turkeys, Cibola NF, NM

 

I’m making this KISS so that I can get another blog post written about our CBC before I dive into Christamas Cards (better late than never).  Thanks for making it this far,

 

Cheers and happy holidays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Snowy Weekend Birding

We’ve been in the holiday spirit here lately.  Our tree is up and we’ve been taking the kids out for various holiday activities and I’ve been trying to get some birding in in-between.  It seems like everyone has been out scouting for our Christmas Bird Count this upcoming weekend.  They have been stirring up some good birds and I’ve been trying to see some of them.  On Friday I went out trying to see a Northern Parula and a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker in a local neighborhood.  What I thought was the NOPA was really a Yellow-Rumped Warbler, but I did manage to see the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker.  But none of my photos were even worth posting.
But Saturday morning I went looking for a Pine Warbler at the UNM Duck Ponds.  I got some help to look for it.  It was a really cold day, it’s been below freezing for the last half-week, so we had to really bundle up.

Future Birder Ben, UNM Duck Pond, ABQ NM

Future Birder Ben, UNM Duck Pond, ABQ NM

It was my first time at the locally famous Duck Ponds.  We did see some ducks, Mallards and some American Wigeons, in the ponds.  A fountain was doing good duty keeping the ice away.

Ducks, UNM Duck Pond, ABQ NM

Ducks, UNM Duck Pond, ABQ NM

And I saw a Northern Flicker hanging onto one of the buildings, something new for me.  Stucco is really awesome stuff.

Northern Flicker, UNM Duck Pond, ABQ NM

Northern Flicker, UNM Duck Pond, ABQ NM

Lucky for us, we saw someone else with binoculars looking at some pine trees across one of the bridges.  So I picked up my son and carried him over to the area. Sure enough, there was the Pine Warbler mixed in with some Yellow-Rumps, Bushtits and a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet.

Pine Warbler, UNM Duck Pond, ABQ NM

Pine Warbler, UNM Duck Pond, ABQ NM

Pine Warbler, UNM Duck Pond, ABQ NM

Pine Warbler, UNM Duck Pond, ABQ NM

Yellow-Rumped Warbler, UNM Duck Pond, ABQ NM

Yellow-Rumped Warbler, UNM Duck Pond, ABQ NM

The Pine Warbler also ended up being my 250th bird seen this year, nice way to hit that mark.  Today (Sunday) I was planning on going up to Sandia Crest and spend the day waiting for the Rosy-Finches.  But the weather had other plans.  There were clouds and snow covering the mountain and the road up was too bad to drive on.  So I decided to head to Embudito Canyon to look for Crissal Thrashers and/or Cactus Wrens.  There ended up being lots of snow, but none of those birds were there.

There were lots of Dark-Eyed Juncos, maybe 200. They kept flying down the canyon in groups of a dozen or so, it was beautiful against the snow.

Dark-Eyed Junco, Embudito Canyon, ABQ NM

Dark-Eyed Junco, Embudito Canyon, ABQ NM

DEJU, Embudito Canyon, ABQ NM

DEJU, Embudito Canyon, ABQ NM

And lots of Canyon Towhees were around too.  They didn’t have any problem with the snow, and seemed to always be in pairs.

Canyon Towhee, Embudito Canyon, ABQ NM

Canyon Towhee, Embudito Canyon, ABQ NM

Canyon Towhee, Embudito Canyon, ABQ NM

Canyon Towhee, Embudito Canyon, ABQ NM

 

This Mourning Dove was so cold that I got to within 5 feet of it before I even saw it, and it never flew, just watched me looking at Juncos.

Mourning Dove, Embudito Canyon, ABQ NM

Mourning Dove, Embudito Canyon, ABQ NM

I also found a tree full of Bushtits and 1 actually sat still long enough for some photos.

Bushtit, Embudito Canyon, ABQ NM

Bushtit, Embudito Canyon, ABQ NM

There were no Thrashers or Wrens showing themselves, so I headed back to get warmed up in my car and catch the second half of the Steelers game.  But on my way to the parking lot, I got to watch a Cooper’s Hawk out hunting.

Cooper's Hawk, Embudito Canyon, ABQ NM

Cooper’s Hawk, Embudito Canyon, ABQ NM

I made one last stop at the Rio Grande before meeting the rest of the family to see Freeze, but nothing notable were there and the light continued to be bad.
Hopefully I get a chance to make it to the Crest this week for Rosy-Finches.  Then Sunday is our CBC and we fly to Pittsburgh shortly after that where I’ll be doing a CBC there, and hopefully seeing  Snowy Owl.

Thats it, thanks for making it this far,

Cheers.