Tag Archives: New Mexico bird photography

Red Crossbills in the Sandia Mountains

As any birder in the US knows, the summer months are the doldrums of birding. We have hummingbirds and some year-round residents, but many birds are farther north during the summer breeding season. Capulin Springs in the Sandia Mountains is a place that is almost always a good place to see a variety of birds in the summer. The reason is water. At Capulin Springs the spring water has been directed through a hollowed-out log to create a lovely oasis for bird drinking and bathing.

The setting is really lovely.

Capulin Springs

The magic birding log at Capulin Springs.

Birders in the Albuquerque area have been excited to see the unusual numbers of Red Crossbills in the Sandias this summer. They flocked to the water in the hollowed-out log.

Capulin Springs

Red Crossbills flock to the water.

The Crossbills were in many different plumage phases. This male was really pretty.

Capulin Springs

Male Red Crossbill.

A few people reported that they had seen White-winged Crossbills among the Red Crossbills. I believe that this is a female White-winged Crossbill. Note the white wing stripe.

Capulin Springs

Female White-winged Crossbill.

Farther up the mountain we saw a group of crossbills around a puddle at the edge of a parking lot.

10K parking lot

Red Crossbills enjoying a rain puddle.

We had a lovely time watching the birds, chatting with other birders and taking photos. Here are a few of the photos that I took:

Here is a video of crossbills and other birds enjoying the water at Capulin Springs:

It has been an unusual treat for New Mexico birders to see so many crossbills at one time. We are hoping that they will stay in the Sandias for awhile.

20 Comments

Filed under New Mexico birds

A Return to Bitter Lake

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a relatively unknown wildlife refuge located on the Pecos River near Roswell, New Mexico. Because I am from Roswell, I grew up going to Bitter Lake on a regular basis. Last weekend I went to Roswell to visit with some friends, and of course I couldn’t wait to make a trip out to the refuge. Bitter Lake is a winter home to many Sandhill Cranes, Snow Geese and other winter migrants. I posted earlier this year about my trip to Bitter Lake in February.

I was surprised by the number of Black-necked Stilts that were at the refuge this past weekend. It appeared that there were at least 100 of them in the ponds. I had a lovely time watching and photographing them.

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

There were other birds present as well, although many of them were in areas that were too far away for photographs. I am accustomed to seeing White-faced Ibis there, and I love the way that the sun highlights their plumage.

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

White-faced Ibis

There were lots of Killdeer running around, and I was disappointed that I did not see any little fluffy chicks.

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Killdeer

Red-winged Blackbirds sang from the marshy edges of the ponds.

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Red-winged Blackbird

Western Meadowlarks sang in the grass.

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Western Meadowlark

I was interested to see Turkey Vultures walking around near one of the ponds.

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Turkey Vulture

And it is always a delight to see Great Egrets.

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Great Egret

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a very different place in summer than it is in winter. It is a lovely place to visit any time of year.

27 Comments

Filed under Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico bird photography, New Mexico birds

Wings on Wednesday

This would normally be a Wordless Wednesday post. However, several weeks ago Roberta Beyer, owner of The Fat Finch, asked me to lead a photo workshop as an event for her wonderful birding store. I happily agreed, and I wondered if anyone would attend. The event proved popular far beyond our expectations. I recruited favorite birding friend Bosque Bill to assist me, and Roberta recruited two more photographers. Our little group met at The Fat Finch early this past Saturday morning. After a basic “How to operate your camera” talk by Bosque Bill we set off to photograph birds. Everyone had a wonderful time, and most participants learned how to move their cameras off of the automatic settings.

Here are some photos of birds that I took during the workshop:

Sandhill Crane portrait, Rio Grande Nature Center

Sandhill Crane portrait

Sandhill Crane portrait, Rio Grande Nature Center

Sandhill Crane portrait, another view.

Sandhill Cranes, Rio Grande Nature Center

Sandhill Cranes fly into the Rio Grande Nature Center.

Sandhill Crane, Rio Grande Nature Center

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane, Rio Grande Nature Center

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Cranes, Rio Grande Nature Center

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Crane, Rio Grande Nature Center

Sandhill Crane coming in for a landing.

Spotted Towhee, Rio Grande Nature Center

Spotted Towhee

Canada Goose portrait, Rio Grande Nature Center

Canada Goose portrait

Canada Goose enjoying the sun, Rio Grande Nature Center

Canada Goose enjoying the sun

It was a fine workshop put on by New Mexico’s best birding store. Be sure to visit The Fat Finch when you’re in the Albuquerque area!

16 Comments

Filed under Albuquerque birds, New Mexico bird photography, New Mexico birds, Rio Grande Nature Center

Wordless Wednesday-Wings on Wednesday

Mountain Chickadee, Sandia Crest

Mountain Chickadee, Sandia Crest, New Mexico

Mountain Chickadee, Sandia Crest, New Mexico

Mountain Chickadee, Sandia Crest,

Mountain Chickadee, Sandia Crest, New Mexico


27 Comments

Filed under New Mexico bird photography, New Mexico birds

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Entrance sign, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

I grew up in Roswell, New Mexico. One of the places where we often went for family activities and school functions was Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, located along the Pecos River just outside of Roswell. I had not visited the refuge since the 1970’s, and so I recently decided to take a trip to Roswell to visit friends and take some photos at Bitter Lake.

I arrived at the refuge on Friday afternoon in time to take advantage of the beautiful late afternoon light. The first thing that I noticed was the new (to me) Joseph R. Skeen Visitor’s Center, which was completed in August 2006. The visitor’s center is located on a bluff that overlooks the refuge, and it has large windows and a deck that are designed to take advantage of the views.

Joseph R. Skeen Visitor's Center, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Joseph R. Skeen Visitor's Center

The view from the deck is lovely!

View from the Visitor's Center deck, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

View from the Visitor's Center deck.

I drove around to familiarize myself with the surroundings. The red bluffs to the west of the refuge are really beautiful.

Snow Geese and Northern Harrier, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Snow Geese and a Northern Harrier fly over Bitter Lake.

There were hundred of Red-winged Blackbirds singing in the reeds and cattails at the edge of the lake.

Red-winged Blackbirds, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge,

Red-winged Blackbirds

Here is a short video of the birds:

As I listened to the Red-winged Blackbirds, I watched the sun setting over the lake.

Sunset over Bitter Lake

Sunset over Bitter Lake

The next morning I arrived at the refuge before sunrise to watch the fly-out. When I arrived, Snow Geese were flying over the visitor’s center.

Snow Geese, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico.

Snow Geese fly over the visitor's center.

I watched as waves of Snow Geese flew out to graze in the surrounding fields.

Snow Geese, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Snow Geese fly out.

The Sandhill Cranes waited until a bit later to fly out.

Sandhill Cranes, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Sandhill Cranes

I was able to get a few photos as they flew overhead.

Sandhill Cranes, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Sandhill Crane fly-out

Sandhill Crane fly-out, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico

Sandhill Crane fly-out, a closer view.

I looked across the lake at the visitor’s center. From this angle you can really appreciate the lovely view from the large windows out over the lake.

Joseph R. Skeen Visitor's Center, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

View across the lake toward the Joseph R. Skeen Visitor's Center.

There were many Buffleheads on the lake. I enjoyed watching them “run” along the lake surface as they took to the air.

Bufflehead, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Bufflehead takeoff.

A Northern Harrier hunted over a marshy area.

Northern Harrier, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Northern Harrier

The weather, which had been lovely, began to get chilly, and I went into Roswell to meet friends for lunch. The weather improved later in the afternoon, and I returned to watch the evening fly-in. I was too early for the Sandhill Cranes, but large numbers of Snow Geese began to fly in.

Snow Geese fly-in, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Snow Geese fly-in

As it grew darker, White-faced Ibis flew in as well.

White-faced Ibis, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

White-faced Ibis

This is a short video of the fly-in:

As I left Bitter Lake to have dinner with friends I stopped to watch the beautiful sunset. I have always thought that the sunsets in Roswell are extraordinary.

Sunset, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Sunset, Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Although Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge is not nearly as well known as Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro, New Mexico, it is a lovely area, and well worth visiting.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

13 Comments

Filed under New Mexico bird photography, New Mexico birds

Wordless Wednesday-Wings on Wednesday

Ferruginous Hawk, Capitan, New Mexico.

Ferruginous Hawk, Capitan, New Mexico

Ferruginous Hawk, Capitan, New Mexico

14 Comments

Filed under New Mexico bird photography, New Mexico birds

Wordless Wednesday-Wings on Wednesday

Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Sandia Crest, New Mexico

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch, Sandia Crest, New Mexico

Black Rosy-Finch, Sandia Crest, New Mexico

Black Rosy-Finch, Sandia Crest, New Mexico

26 Comments

Filed under New Mexico bird photography, New Mexico birds

Wordless Wednesday-Wings on Wednesday

White-breasted Nuthatch, Sandia Crest, New Mexico.

White-breasted Nuthatch, Sandia Crest New Mexico

White-breasted Nuthatch, Sandia Crest New Mexico

White-breasted Nuthatch, Sandia Crest New Mexico

White-breasted Nuthatch, Sandia Crest New Mexico

30 Comments

Filed under New Mexico bird photography, New Mexico birds

A Popular Place for Finches

I have a finch feeder hanging outside of my living room windows. It is not an expensive feeder, and I have to replace it fairly often. The finches love it, especially in snowy weather.

Corrales birds, New Mexico birds, New Mexico bird photography.

Corrales birds, New Mexico birds, New Mexico bird photography.

Corrales birds, New Mexico birds, New Mexico bird photography.

You will note that I have taken these photos through a somewhat dirty window. It’s too cold to go outside and set up the blind. The weather station says 20 degrees F. outside.

20 Comments

Filed under Corrales birds, New Mexico bird photography

Wordless Wednesday-Wings on Wednesday

American Wigeon male, Turtle Bay, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, New Mexico

American Wigeon, Turtle Bay, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, New Mexico

American Wigeon, Turtle Bay, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, New Mexico.

American Wigeon, Turtle Bay, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, New Mexico.

American Wigeon, Turtle Bay, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, New Mexico.

13 Comments

Filed under New Mexico bird photography, New Mexico birds