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Rosy Finches and Sandia Peak

12/17/2013

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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