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What a night

05/07/2013

Today ended being fully comprised of up and downs.  I’m sitting here at 10pm and I’m depressed after watching Penguins lose to the Islanders in Game 4.  Wow, that is so hard to watch.  And to think that I was looking forward to watching that game all day on the DVR since we had a loaded schedule.

The day did start with an high-note.  I took the kids to Target today and decided to check out the Great-Horned Owl nest at the local High School.  We had stopped there on Friday and only saw one owlet and the mama.  But today we were treated to seeing all 5 together again.  As my daughter and I walked under the nest I stepped on a large vertebrae which crunched under my foot.  And I noticed some all white feathers mixed in with the grey pigeon feathers, so they must have got one of the gulls that fly around the dump, which is really near to the High School.

Great-Horned Owls, RRHS NM

Great-Horned Owls, RRHS NM

Today these 2 were away from mama and huddled together out of the nest.

Great-Horned Owlets, RRHS NM

Great-Horned Owlets, RRHS NM

And we found Daddy Owl out in a tree keeping an eye on things.

Male Great-Horned Owl, RRHS NM

Male Great-Horned Owl, RRHS NM

And then this afternoon my wife and I had eye doctor appointments near to another Great Horned Owl nest in the Rio Grande Bosque near the Alameda bridge, so I thought that I’d take the kids for a walk to check on things.  Little did we know that we would end up on a little bit of an adventure.  I put my son in our jogging stroller since I the path along the ditch was nice and flat, if a bit sandy.  But when we got to the gate the stroller was too wide.  So I had to take him down a pretty steep hill and then back up to the other side of the fence, all in really loose sand.  But we were back on track and moved out.  Then I noticed that the flood control ditch had been dredged and all of the nice vegetation along the banks was gone.  Plus it really looked like it was going to rain.  Wind was picking up and dark clouds were moving in, but I checked the radar on my phone and it looked good, so on we went.  I noticed lots of small birds flying around didn’t want to stop too long to get an ID, except for this Yellow-Rumped Warbler.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Alameda Bosque, ABQ NM

Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Alameda Bosque, ABQ NM

And what I think are American Goldfinches, but this is the best look that I got of them.

Possible American Goldfinches, Alameda Bosque, ABQ NM

Possible American Goldfinches, Alameda Bosque, ABQ NM

We ended up getting to where the owl nest was, a half mile from the road, and found the nest with 2 owlets visible.  But it was really looking bad out, so I took some photos.

Great-Horned Owl nest, Alameda Bosque, NM

Great-Horned Owl nest, Alameda Bosque, NM

I pointed the nest out to my daughter and noticed that she was looking in the wrong spot.  I asked her if she knew what we were looking for and she said “yeah, a big owl, like that one.”  I looked and it was the dad owl on a tree right above us.  I never would have seen it and was so proud of her!

Great Horned Owl, Alameda Bosque, NM

Great Horned Owl, Alameda Bosque, NM

Well, at this time the weather was really getting bad.  I noticed some virga coming our way and checked the Raindar app and sure enough rain was coming for us and we were almost a mile from the fan, in the Bosque and with 2 kids.  So I said “let’s go!” and hurried back down the ditch.  About a quarter mile down the trail I looked back and saw a large wall of blowing sand heading towards us.  So I grabbed my daughter and told her to shut her eyes as the squall passed us.  She was alternating between being excited and scared.  Plus it was getting ever colder and we really weren’t dressed for it.
But then I somehow see a red bird inside the leaves of a Cottonwood Tree and had to get my binoculars and camera back out from under the stroller. A Summer Tanager in all his glory!

Summer Tanager, Alameda Bosque, ABQ NM

Summer Tanager, Alameda Bosque, ABQ NM

And as I watched it fly on down the Bosque I noticed even darker looking clouds coming our way.  But then I saw a flock of birds fly around us and into a tree across the ditch from us.  They seemed to be dark over light grey, and in the binoculars I noticed some yellow marks and a head crest… could it be…?

Cedar Waxwings, Alameda Bosque, ABQ NM

Cedar Waxwings, Alameda Bosque, ABQ NM

CEDAR WAXWINGS!!!  The birds that I had been chasing around Corrales for months.  I had heard that there were some South and across the river the past week, so I didn’t give up complete hope.  But here was a tree full of them.  There was a smaller group on the other side of the same tree, so maybe 15 total!  I was literally yelling and dancing with my daughter and gave my son a nice high-five.  And then I noticed an even larger squall coming up the ditch from behind.  The wind was blowing an opaque wall of dust and dirt our way.  I quickly stowed my lens below the stroller and grabbed my daughter and put her between me and the stroller, which had my son facing away, and braced for impact.  The wind had to be gusting at 40 or 50mph when it hit us.  It was physical and I had to struggle to keep a good grip on the stroller to keep it from blowing away and hugging my daughter tight with the other hand.  Wow, what a night!  After the wind calmed down, we really booked it to the road and made it back to the van amid some cold wind and a bit of sprinkles.
But at the end of the day we had seen a total of 9 Great-Horned Owls, a beautiful Summer Tanager and those damn Cedar Waxwings and made it back from just the right amount of adventure for a 3 year old and an almost toddler.   And then I had to watch that damn hockey game.  Oh well, they just need 2 more wins.

Cheers!

 

 

 

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