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Balloons and Birds

03/31/2013

This past weekend I got up early and went out to the Rio Grande Nature Center for their weekend bird walk and there were lots of balloons out.  If there is one thing that Albuquerque is known for it’s hot air balloons.  The annual Balloon Fiesta is an amazing thing to see and draws thousands of people into the city each fall.  But what most people don’t know is that if the weather is nice then we see lots of hot air balloons all year long.  This one landed on the Nature Center grounds which are supposed to be a no-fly zone.  They had to be helped to an area where the chase crew could come and collect them.  I’m hoping that they got a fine because they chased most of the birds away that were in the area.  And as you’ll see below; they were banding birds in the park too.

Hot Air Balloon over RGNC

Hot Air Balloon over RGNC

Hot Air Balloon at RGNC

Hot Air Balloon at RGNC

And here’s one that I saw on the way to the Nature Center over the Los Poblanos Inn, which has hosted the First Lady last year.

Hot Air Balloon and Los Poblanos Inn

Hot Air Balloon and Los Poblanos Inn

As for birds, I ended up seeing a bit over 40 species including some  life birds and 4 towards my year’s challenge: Turkey Vulture, Barn Swallow, Bewick’s Wren and one other that I can’t remember.

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow RGNC

Northern Rough-Winged Swallow RGNC

This female wood duck is probably looking for a nest cavity.  What I would give to see the babies jumping to the ground.

Female Wood Duck RGNC

Female Wood Duck RGNC

We saw 2 types of Yellow-Rumped Warbler, the normal kind and a Myrtle variety.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

And at the Rio Grande after the walk we saw 2 Great Blue Herons.  One was up in a tree on the other side the river and then we saw this one fly down the river and land across from us.

Great Blue Heron over Rio Grande, RGNC

Great Blue Heron over Rio Grande, RGNC

Great Blue Heron RGNC

Great Blue Heron RGNC

This weekend was also the last weekend for bird banding at the Nature Center.  The group got to see a Song Sparrow and a migrating Lincoln’s Sparrow up close (both images taken with my cell-phone).  You can see how much smaller the Lincoln’s Sparrow is than the Song Sparrow.

Song Sparrow, RGNC

Song Sparrow, RGNC

Lincoln's Sparrow, RGNC

Lincoln’s Sparrow, RGNC

And we saw some other animals on the walk. Here’s a tree that was felled by a beaver.  I also saw lots of beaver tracks, which are pretty easy to identify.  Just a wide line about the size of a road’s centerline in the dirt.  We also saw a coyote loping around the fields.

Beaver, RGNC

Beaver, RGNC

Here’s a porcupine that was trying to sleep as we came by.

Porcupine RGNC

Porcupine RGNC

And there were turtles everywhere.  I saw some sunning themselves at every pond.

Painted Turtles and Red-Eared Sliders, RGNC

Painted Turtles and Red-Eared Sliders, RGNC

I’m working on a write-up on American Kestrels.  I saw a bunch at Los Poblanos last weekend doing interesting things.  And we saw some at the Nature Center too.  But I had so many shots that I’m making a stand-alone blog post about them.

 

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