Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico, part 2

There was an abundance of bluebirds on the refuge - I think they were Western bluebirds. Here are a few photos of some. The second photo is a Loggerhead Shrike. There were a couple of them we saw there on the refuge in the same area as the bluebirds.

And here is another view of the southern Rocky Mountains in south central Colorado, the Sangre de Cristo range. That is Lake McAlister in the foreground.
A pair of bald eagles hanging around Crane Lake on the refuge. There was an abundance of waterfowl around these birds, namely Sandhill cranes, snow geese, and plenty of ducks, mostly mallards. The eagles had their choice of fare.
And here are the snow geese in flight over Crane Lake.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

After our Mountain Birding Tour it was time to leave Socorro, New Mexico and head north. We drove to Albuquerque planning to eat lunch at one of our favorite restaurants before heading farther north (and east) to Las Vegas, New Mexico. When we arrived at the location of one of our favorite restaurants we found that Pereas wasn't there. Instead, it had a new name, Seferinos - located on Central and Alvarado. While waiting to be seated we found that the restaurant is run by the same family - known for some of the best true New Mexican fare. My husband had one of his favorite dishes, Carne Adovado, and I had a beef taco plate. We also ordered a couple of sopapillas. After lunch we headed north to Las Vegas, NM, about 60 miles east of Santa Fe. Once we arrived in Las Vegas we felt we should locate a motel before heading over to the refuge. As we exited from I-25 we saw what looked like a brand new, just opened Holiday Inn Express. We found out that it had just recently opened - they had only been opened for two weeks. I can't imagine a motel/hotel having a grand opening in a small (out of the way) town in early November (unless they are anticipating a lot of holiday traffic). We managed to get a suite for the night for only $85. It sure was luxurious. It had a flat panel TV and a king-size bed, with a fridge, microwave and a bar sink. We then headed over to the Wildlife Refuge to see if we could see any cranes flying in for the night. By now it was getting close to sundown. We did see some cranes flying in as well as snow geese. Most ducks and Canada geese had already arrived earlier. Below is what I attempted to capture of a virga in the clouds. And the second photo is the sunset we saw while driving through the refuge. That is Lake McAlister in the sunset photo, which is the largest lake on the refuge.

We headed back out to the refuge around 10 a.m (Mon, Nov 19). Below is a flock of Canada geese we saw while driving around.
We also saw many ravens throughout the refuge, in the fields and perched in trees.
And then we saw sandhill cranes in several fields. Here are a few photos of what we saw.
Notice ravens perched in the trees in the distance.

Here we found a red-tailed hawk surveying his territory.
This is a view of the Sangre de Cristo range, part of the Rocky Mountains, in south central Colorado from the refuge.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge. The next post I will provide more photos of other birds we saw.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Bosque del Apache and Water Canyon

On Saturday, Nov 17th, the Festival of the Cranes was in full force with many exhibits, including art exhibits all around. Several educational animals were also available, mostly birds, but there was also a captive wolf which I did not get a photo of. Here are just a couple of shots of a hawk. Aren't they beautiful? Just look at those feathers, especially on the second photo.

Great horned owl

American Coot on the Refuge admiring his reflection

Below, an alligator juniper tree in Water Canyon.

Here is a close-up view of the bark. You can see why it is called "alligator" juniper.

The Mountain Birding Tour was led by Mary Alice Root, Bill Thompson and Julie Zickefoose. On the way to Water Canyon we saw a herd of pronghorn antelope grazing in the field. I haven't seen any pronghorn for many years, so I really enjoyed seeing them out "on the range." Also, before getting to Water Canyon, the group stopped where there was a huge rock wall (in the distance). We stopped to look for a great horned owl that was spotted the day before. The owl was still there; and it was also noted that there was a honeybee hive attached to the cliff wall. Once we got to Water Canyon, we saw a cliff chipmunk and a young rock squirrel (identified by JZ). They sure were cute to watch. The birds we saw were: bushtits, juncos, a ruby-crowned kinglet, white-breasted nuthatches, bluebirds, a couple of Stellar's jays, acorn woodpecker, red-naped sapsucker, and a Williamson's sapsucker. Many of these were lifers for me, and you can read more about these birds and the Water Canyon trip in Julie Zickefoose's and Bill of the Birds blogs. You'll also see photos of many of the birds that I did not get. Most of the birds were in areas that were too dark and/or too far for me to get any decent photos; so I didn't bother. While heading back to the cars I took this photo of a few birders - namely, my husband, Liam (JZ's and BT's son), and Linda (who we had carpooled with).

Below is the photo of the great-horned owl that was found perched in the cliff wall. We took this shot on our way out of the canyon since the lighting was better than when we first saw it on the way up to Water Canyon.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Raptors on the Refuge

This year it seemed we saw many more raptors than we did previous years. There were Red-tailed hawks and Northern Harriers just about everywhere. Of course, if you would have seen all the waterfowl you would certainly understand why so many winged predators were present.

These two photos are of the same bird, but they were the best shots I could get of the Aplomado falcon, found on the Farm Loop of the Bosque del Apache NWR. This bird has not been seen in this area for many years. It is now being re-introduced by being raised on the Armendaris Ranch, owned by Ted Turner and managed by Tom Waddell. These birds may have been "raised" on the ranch south of the Refuge, but two of these falcons were recently seen on the Refuge which would mean they had been released into the wild. The two falcons found on the Refuge were noted as one adult female and one juvenile (possibly male). And I'm thinking this may be a juvenile male, but I'm not positive.

A great explanation of this program and much better photos of the Aplomado falcon can be found on another blog called Wildbirds Broadcasting. Click on the link and read more about these fascinating birds.

And here is a red-tailed hawk also found on the Farm Loop of the Bosque.

All of these photos were taken on Friday, November 17th, while we were touring the Refuge.


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