Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My New Mexico Vacation

This year I chose to spend 10 wonderful days in the state of New Mexico. My husband and I chose to stay overnight in Albuquerque from Friday, Nov 14 through Monday, Nov 17 while touring ABQ, Santa Fe and Taos. We didn't have to attend the Festival of the Cranes in Socorro and the Bosque del Apache until Wednesday morning (Nov 19).

We flew into ABQ Friday (14th) around noon. So first things first - we had to go to one of our favorite restaurants, Perea's, located on Central Avenue (old Rte 66). My husband loves getting Carne Adovada here; I ordered a taco salad. This restaurant is family run and is open during the week for breakfast and lunch. They serve some of the best tasting New Mexican dishes in Albuquerque. I don't necessarily have any favorite dishes at this restaurant, but I have never been disappointed in either their breakfasts or lunches. I highly recommend this place should one visit Albuquerque.

After filling our tummies with such good food we decided to look around Old Town window shopping. I've been wanting to get a southwestern style wall clock to put above our mantel in our year-old remodeled family room. My second choice was to choose a southwestern style painting. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to catch my attention. So after visiting Old Town we chose to check in to our motel room and unpack. After unpacking we still had a couple hours of daylight so we went to visit the Rio Grande Nature Center. I've never been there before, not even when we lived in ABQ. So this was definitely a new place to visit. It's more of an open space preserve. Below is the sign located right near the concrete blind. You can click on any/all photos to see a larger image.

This is Sandia Peak from the Nature Center. As mentioned earlier, we visited the center late in the afternoon. So as the sun was getting lower in the western sky, this mountain has a tendency to show what is known as alpenglow. Sandia is the Spanish term meaning watermelon. I think the Spaniards named this mountain for its shape and for its coloring at sunset. There was much to see and so little time. So my husband and I visited the center on Saturday afternnon, too. So some of these photos were taken on Saturday; others taken on Friday. As I walked along one of the riparian trails I saw and heard a few small birds, but could not get any decent photos. Below is an attempt at getting a couple of house finches as they perched on the bush.

The next several photos are the ducks I encountered, mostly on the pond, and others in the overflow channel. Again, some photos were taken Friday and others taken on Saturday. Below are a few mallards on the pond. And the photo was taken from the concrete blind.
This photo isn't best quality, but at least I can document that I also saw some Northern Shovelers on the pond.
Another pond dweller I can document was this Canvasback. (lifer!)
Here is another lifer for me, and the only photo I could get of this ring-necked duck. Don't you like his "crew cut" hairstyle? I'm not absolutely positive of its ID, but I could not find another duck in my field guide with that two-tone bill.
Other pond dwellers were American coots. Here's one swimming along next to a male mallard, and that's a northern shoveler in the foreground looking for something nutritious to consume.
Here is another shot of a couple northern shovelers behind a coot. This nature center seems to host several species of ducks during this time of year.
And here is another lifer, and one of my best photos! This male and female pair of wood ducks were found in the overflow channel. You really need to click on this photo to see a larger image. These are such beautiful ducks, and just look at that gorgeous reflection in the water. Not only is the male attractive, but I find the female attractive, too. I love that eyering of hers.
And last but certainly not least, I kept hearing sand hill cranes while I was walking along the trail heading for the Rio Grande River. But I didn't see any until I finally got to the edge of the river. Apparently, some sand hill cranes will winter here at this nature center. If only I would have known this and was interested in birding while I lived in Albuquerque. Oh well.
I certainly want to revisit this place when I return next year.


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Looks like a lovely place to visit.The Wood Duck picture is fantastic.

Lynne said...

It sounds like you two has a wonderful vacation. Good for you!

Mary C said...

Thanks, Ruth. And yes, New Mexico is a lovely state to visit.

Hi Lynne. Yes, we thoroughly enjoyed our vacation. We always have enjoyed revisiting New Mexico, mostly because I still love the area, and Dave very much likes the New Mexican food - you can't find it anywhere else in this country - it's unique.

Red said...

Did you drive by the old house too?

That was a fantastic capture of the wood ducks. Not only did you want to see them, but they posed perfectly for you and you snapped it too!

Linda in Erie said...

Lovely photos of the ducks. I'm finding your post really interesting as we plan a road trip vacation in 2 years to the southwest. I've been there before but my husband hasn't. The wood ducks are gorgeous. We have some that live on Presque Isle and I haven't yet been able to get close-up photos like yours. Great photo! They really are beautiful.

Leedra said...

I have got to find me a place like this around East Tennessee. Thought I had, then found out it is for hunters only. Nobody else is allowed there from Nov 1 until March 1. May check it out in the summer, but I think what is there now won't be there in the winter.

RuthieJ said...

Looks like the start of a good vacation Mary! When I used to visit my brother in NM, we never had time to see all the places we wanted to either, so I'm looking forward to more of your vacation stories and pictures.
LOVE that wood duck pair--good job!

Ruth said...

Wood ducks are so beautiful. All those birds were in our area in October. The Mallards and Coots and House Finches stay the winter, but now I know where the others are.

Mary C said...

Yes, Red, we drove by the house, too. Coming to think of it, I think that was the second thing we did before heading to Old Town (on Friday). First thing was, of course, lunch at Perea's. BTW, it wasn't my suggestion to drive by the house. ;o)

Linda, thanks. I took most of these photos with a 70-300mm zoom lens, and most of the time it was set at 300mm. I was excited that the wood ducks were out in the sunlight, too, which also made for a great picture.

Hi Leedra. You're right about the birds being different at different times of the year. Too bad it's for hunters only between Nov and March. Check your other lakes and state parks there and see if you can get a bird list for the area which can be very helpful.

Ruthie, thank you. I do consider that photo a prize shot and capture. Something tells me I would not be able to duplicate it. When your bro lived in NM, was he employed by Kirtland Air Force Base? Anyway, wouldn't it be fun to visit that area again?

Hi Ruth - you know we are supposed to have wood ducks here in my area of California, but I've never seen any. Well, not yet. But instead I get to see one for the first time in Albuquerque. Go figure.

Mary said...

I've heard so many compliments on New Mexico. Heading west is on the agenda when we retire.

You certainly found some beauties there, Mary.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Anonymous said...

It's been long years since I've been there, but I did enjoy it when I was. You're lucky that you get to go back again next year.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Mary C said...

Hi Mary. I do hope you get to see New Mexico someday. I know you won't regret it! There are times when I wish I still lived there.

Hi Wren. Actually, I've been vacationing there for the past 5-6 years. That's how much I love New Mexico. I'd rather spend my vacation time there. I sure hope you get to return someday. I think of it as truly the "Land of Enchantment." ;o)


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