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Common Loon in New Mexico

10/28/2013

Two weeks ago a Common Loon was reported on the Rio Grande right here in Albuquerque.  I tried to see it on 2 different occasions, but it was already gone.  And then last week another Common Loon was reported on a lake a bit north of Santa Fe.  It was still there today, and the stars aligned so that I could get up there and try again.  It’s a lifer bird for me, and one that I’ve always wanted to see.  I just didn’t think that place would be in New Mexico.

The bird was at the remote Santa Cruz Lake, about a half hour north of Santa Fe and over 90 minutes from my house in Rio Rancho.  I stopped along the way to visit my favorite taco shop, El Parasol, who has amazing vegetarian tacos.  I was very surprised to hear some young birds in some sunflowers at the front of the shop.  It was a pair of hatchling Lesser Goldfinches and their parents.  I ran back to the car for my camera and managed a few good shots of the young ones begging for food.

Lesser Goldfinches, NM

Lesser Goldfinches, NM

Lesser Goldfinches, NM

Lesser Goldfinches, NM

I got my food to go and continued on my way.  The changing seasons are taking me by surprise and I was not prepared to be racing a setting Sun.  Google Maps took me through a very small settlement near the lake, which had a single lane road through it and even what looked like a lone gas pump in someone’s front yard.  I shortly made the turn-off to the lake and was surprised to see a nice little lake hidden away in a canyon.

Santa Cruz Lake, NM

Santa Cruz Lake, NM

I stopped when I saw a small bunch of birds flying by the side of the road, they were some Western Bluebirds.

Western Bluebird, Santa Cruz Lake NM

Western Bluebird, Santa Cruz Lake NM

But I wasn’t there to see Bluebirds, as nice as they are to see.  The Sun was already behind the canyon wall and the light was going with it.  Plus I had no idea where the Loon could.  I pulled into the first parking area along the water that I saw.  There was an aluminum fishing pier jutting out into the lake and just beyond the far end was a bird swimming around.  I walked out onto the pier and sure enough, it was the Loon!

Common Loon, Santa Cruz Lake NM

Common Loon, Santa Cruz Lake NM

I watched it diving and then feeding on a crawfish.

Common Loon, Santa Cruz Lake NM

Common Loon, Santa Cruz Lake NM

As it dove and fed it came even closer to the pier and I managed to get some good shots despite the lighting.

Common Loon, Santa Cruz Lake NM

Common Loon, Santa Cruz Lake NM

Common Loon, Santa Cruz Lake NM

Common Loon, Santa Cruz Lake NM

Common Loon, Santa Cruz Lake NM

Common Loon, Santa Cruz Lake NM

I could even see it filling up it’s gullet with shellfish.

Common Loon, Santa Cruz Lake NM

Common Loon, Santa Cruz Lake NM

As it turned out, the Loon was the only bird on the water and I was the only human there watching it.

Lonley Common Loon, Santa Cruz Lake NM

Lonley Common Loon, Santa Cruz Lake NM

I sat along the sure enjoying my tacos and eventually watched it swim out of sight around a spit of land.  It was another lifer for me, and a great bird to sit and watch do it’s thing, even if for just a little bit.

I got back into the car and went back home.  The day’s show wasn’t over yet, I was treated to a magnificent New Mexico Sunset that I had to stop and take a few photos of.  East of me was early snow on the Santa Fe Mountains, and to the west some beautiful colors.

Snow on Santa Fe Mountains, Santa Fe NM

Snow on Santa Fe Mountains, Santa Fe NM

Sunset near Pojoaque NM

Sunset near Pojoaque NM

Thanks for making it this far.  Enjoy this Thunderbird stretching it’s wings across the darkening sky.

Thunderbird over Jemez Mountains, NM

Thunderbird over Jemez Mountains, NM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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