Sunday, December 13, 2009

Elephant Butte Lake State Park

Our first Festival of the Cranes event took place away from the Bosque del Apache. After picking up our luggage at the Sunport International Airport in Albuquerque we drove south to Truth or Consequences. We stayed there overnight so we could arrive at Marina del Sur at Elephant Butte Lake State Park the next morning by 8:30. The first half of our 5-hour event was to enjoy the birds and landscape on the lake via a houseboat. Our leaders were Steve Green and Tamie Bulow from the American Birding Association. Steve was our houseboat pilot, and Tamie was the hostess who pointed out the various birds around the lake. Grebes (both western and clark's) were probably the most numerous we saw on the lake, but to get a decent photo of them was most challenging. This event proved to be quite chilly, especially on the lake. I dressed in layers, but I was still cold, and spent a lot of my time in the back of the houseboat where the wind was not whipping around me. This event was still lots of fun; it was limited to 14 people. I love small groups; you get to associate with fellow birders on a more intimate level. And this was one event that constantly provided lots of food! While on the houseboat we were given all kinds of pastries and locally grown produce along with plenty of coffee/hot cocoa. Elephant Butte is located near Truth or Consequences -- about 65 miles south of the Bosque del Apache.

To get a better view of the photos you can click on them to enlarge them. This was a place where we saw several double-crested cormorants, and one lone white pelican in the midst of them.
This particular "island" is called Rattlesnake Hill. Steve, while piloting the boat, explained how it was named, but I missed a lot of what he said.
Elephant Butte Lake is the largest and most popular recreation spot in New Mexico. Historically speaking, a dam was constructed (which created the lake) here in 1916 in order to provide irrigation and flood control of the Rio Grande River. Much of the landscape is the result of an ancient non-active volcano.
Here is another photo of the landscape which includes Tami's back. She was looking at and identifying a number of water birds in and around the lake.
Here is the area where white pelicans were spotted.

There is an island on the lake that has goats living on it. This photo shows two goats we saw. Kind of cute -- one white and one black.
And here are a couple shots of the "ram." Look at those horns; what a handsome looking animal. How cool is that?

When we got back to Marina del Sur we enjoyed a delicious box lunch before heading out on land to observe other types of birds. I don't have any photos of our afternoon outing which was walking a trail around a riparian area on the other side of the dam. The few photos I took are not worth posting -- they came out too dark and far away. We saw a lone great blue heron. Another large bird we saw was an osprey. Other smaller birds were the more common birds one would see in a drier climate, such as sparrows, finches and titmice.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New Mexico vacation


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This year the annual Festival of the Cranes held at Bosque del Apache was November 17-22. My husband, Dave, and I flew from San Jose into Albuquerque on Monday, Nov 16. We arrived shortly after 11 a.m., but our baggage "missed the flight." It was a good thing that we had a few hours to spare; we had a long drive ahead of us to get to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. So after filling out a missing baggage report we picked up our rental car and headed over to the Rio Grande Nature Center to see some wildlife, mostly birds, and wait for the airlines to call us about our bags. We were there less than an hour when we got the call, and so we headed back to the airport to pick up our luggage. Meanwhile, here are some photos of what we saw at the Nature Center.

As it is most everywhere else in the country and Canada there is an abundance of Canada Geese.

And there seems to be an abundance of mallards, too.
On the path/trail to the visitor center there is a bird feeder where many passerines catch a bite to eat, including Mourning Doves.
There are several white-winged doves that visit the feeder, too. At quick glance they look like mourning doves, but the white edging on their wings catches our attention. Then if you look closer you can tell the color of their eyes are different -- they have red eyes. And an even closer look you can see the dove has a dark malar spot and lacks the black spots on its back.

My next post will be Elephant Butte Lake State Park. That was our first event we attended for the Festival of the Cranes.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

June blooming lilies

The month of June continued giving us a variety of colors and plants in our yard. Here are my favorite photos of our lilies, all located in the front yard. Below, you can see among the daylilies that I also have a few calla lilies. I love calla lilies although the flowers are too short-lived. But they do stand out among the other more colorful daylilies.

Here is a view of the daylilies as they encircle our crape myrtle tree. The smaller looking flowers in the foreground happen to be our white trailing lantana.

And my Easter lilies surround the birdbath.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our best blooming roses in June

The month of June continued to give us some really nice rose blossoms. Below is one of our hybrid teas named Cancun.
This is Golden Showers. It doesn't realize it's supposed to be a climber, but it does just fine as part of the bushes in our front yard.
Here is another shot of Cancun a few days later.
As mentioned in a previous post, this is one of our favorites, Desert Peace -- another of our hybrid teas.
Our third hybrid tea is called Mojave. This is what we enjoyed the first week of June. This is another beauty, but I feel the flower pops open much too quickly. But I do love the color.
Here is a shot of all three hybrid teas together.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Time for some fledgling and nestling photos

June 1st was a banner day for birding. Heidi and I not only visited Shoreline in Mountain View, but we also visited Palo Alto Baylands. And the best part about visiting on the first of June was the number of "baby" birds that were roaming around. Here are a few of the photos I took of the "youngsters" at the Baylands.
Above is a fairly young American Avocet walking around on its own. Mama or Papa was probably watching closely. I think the parent was no more than twenty feet away. Below is another American Avocet with its chick in the mudflats. I would assume the chick was in no danger. Can you imagine how muddy this little one was? I'm glad it wasn't one of my own!
This babe is a black-necked stilt. Again, a parent wasn't too far off.
And here is another parent with its chick. This one didn't really look like it was ready yet to go into the water. These little chicks are so fluffy, and they don't stay that way for long. I'm glad we got to see these little offspring. That was quite a treat.
And here are a couple of cliff swallow nestlings. I'm sure by now they are no longer nestlings or fledglings. I'm fairly certain they are flying around with their folks all over the Baylands.
And, of course, we had to get at least one photo of a mother mallard and her darling little ducklings. This mama had nine ducklings following her.
I have more photos to post from this outing, although these were the only "baby" photos I had. Hopefully, I will post the next set of photos sooner than it took me to post this one!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Our roses during the month of May

During the month of May, our roses put on a beautiful show. And I thought it was about time I shared some of my best photos of them. We have quite a variety, yet most of their proper names are a mystery to me. The majority of our roses are in our front yard which has a southern exposure. We have four others on the east side of our house, and only a couple of them are located between our workshop/shed and the back of our house. These roses that are between the two buildings get early morning sun and late afternoon sun. They are also "protected" by a bunch of my cannas. And the mixture of colors is kind of funny. Our house and shed have a New Mexico adobe type of color, our cannas are the bright neon orange, and the roses are a vivid pink, as you can see in this photo below. The cannas are missing from this photo, but you'll have to use your imagination for that color.
This miniature rose is located by our front pathway. It's a bright salmony color, and is quite prolific when it's in bloom.
This one is called Golden Showers. It is supposed to be a climber, but it does better as a "bush." We used to have it in a pot near our front patio, but it never did very well once it was pot-bound. So, my husband planted it in the ground between our front pathway and our crape myrtle tree, and it is flourishing.
This beautiful rose is a floribunda named Princess of Wales. I got it "free" as a gift for purchasing other plants through This was also in a pot for quite a few years, and is now in the ground in our front yard and seems to be a bit happier. I really like its white blossoms with dots of pink on the undersides of its petals.
This is one of our three hybrid teas that are grouped together just outside our large kitchen window. In the front yard it's located between our driveway and our crape myrtle tree. This is a perfect location for them, a southerly exposure and a great place to see these beauties first thing in the morning when I go out to the kitchen to feed our kitties.
This is another miniature rose, I think it's called Candy Stripe. I've had this one for many years, and again, one that was in a pot for years until we were able to landscape our front yard about 6-7 years ago. Gosh, I can't believe it's been that long ago we put in the pavers and landscaped with a drip irrigation system.
And back to our trio of hybrid teas outside the big kitchen window. This one is called Mojave. Its color looks so much like a Mojave or southwestern sunset.
This pink rose was here when we bought the house, and it looked like it had been there for quite a few years. I love how this rose first opens up with the dark petals on the outer edges and the inner section a lighter shade of pink. This rose has a very nice fragrance. The bush itself (the main trunk) looks terrible. It looks like somebody had taken a hatchet to it. But, it was most likely damaged in a storm and/or a tree branch may have fallen on it when it was much younger. Anyway, this rose is located on the east side of our yard, and we've been fixing up the side yard, which means we are thinking of disposing of it. But first I want to try to get some cuttings and see if I can root them. I'd love to have another one of these roses, and I have no idea what its name would be.
This is the third rose of our trio of hybrid teas (front yard). This one is called Desert Peace. I love its multi-colored petals. It seems to be appropriately named since the colors could possibly make one think of the beautiful southwest desert (especially in the spring when the desert is in full bloom).
This is what the month of May brought us in the form of roses. I hope you liked seeing the beautiful colors we enjoyed.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Terns and swallows at Shoreline

Heidi and I re-visited Shoreline, Mountain View on the first of June. We had not been there since last fall. We had no idea of what birds we would see this time of year. So we were pleasantly surprised by what we ended up seeing. One of the birds we had fun watching as well as being challenged to photograph them in flight were the Forster's terns. They are loud and gregarious birds, and certainly a challenge to photograph. Below is probably my best shot of a tern in flight, flying over a flock of gulls. We think the gulls were California gulls. In the distance you can see what looks like a couple of white circus tents. That is the amphitheater where quite a few musical artists perform every summer.
Here's a second shot of a tern in flight.
While watching the terns we also saw a pair of gadwall swimming in the channel. From what I can tell, it looks like a pair of females. I think the males would be more "flashy" than this, and both of these ducks had orange and black bills, which is prevalent on the females, and not necessarily on the males. Besides, I would think that the males should have been in breeding plumage by the first of June. Anyone care to affirm this or correct me on this?
When the gulls got tired of the terns flying over them, they decided to "take off." Here's my shot of several of them in flight.
Shortly afterwards, Heidi and I decided to walk a little farther. And in another location that, at first, looked like there wasn't anything to see, she spotted in the distance a small "flock" of white pelicans. How cool! If you click on the photos you can probably get a larger image.
Shortly after the pelican experience, we thought we would head out. At first I was telling Heidi about barn swallows that have nested around a building there at Shoreline, and I was disappointed that I didn't see any flying around. Last year, my husband and I visited around this time of year and saw many barn swallows, all in flight. And I was never able to get a picture of them. No sooner I had mentioned this to Heidi, then we saw a few swallows flying over to a concrete wall, more like a culvert. The area had a large chainlink fence around it, to keep people out of it for safety reasons. Here are a few shots I took; you can see part of the chainlink fence in these two photos.
Ooohh! Love those wings!
There was a wooden stairway and railing nearby where more of the barn swallows were perched. I find these birds almost as beautiful as bluebirds. And I was certainly surprised that this many birds sat still long enough for me to get a photo of them.
On our way back to the car, we could hear a few song sparrows. It sure wasn't easy to locate them until Heidi pulled out her "trusty iPhone" (which has the iBird app on it) and called a song sparrow close enough that we could get a shot. How cool is that? Just an FYI: we don't do that very often. I'd rather try pishing before using the iBird to call the bird(s).
Needless to say, it was a good day for different species I hadn't seen in a while.


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