Tag Archives: 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.

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Filed under Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, 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.

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Wordless Wednesday-Wings on Wednesday

Ferruginous Hawk, Capitan, New Mexico.

Ferruginous Hawk, Capitan, New Mexico

Ferruginous Hawk, Capitan, New Mexico

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Wordless Wednesday-Wings on Wednesday

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest New Mexico

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest New Mexico

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest New Mexico

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest New Mexico

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest New Mexico

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest New Mexico

Steller's Jay, Sandia Crest New Mexico

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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.

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Wordless Wednesday-Wings on Wednesday

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

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Filed under Bermardo Wildlife Management Area, New Mexico birds

A Leap of Faith

Last Friday, which involved both dental surgery and the latest chapter in my continuing legal nightmare, it occurred to me that maybe continuing to go to the office every day is not something that I am willing to do. On Sunday I watched these little Gambel’s Quail chicks take the leap across the gap of my garden gate, and I realized that this morning I too need to make a leap of faith and return to work.

Get Ready

Get Set


Go!

Made It!


The Quail Parade Continues

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Filed under Corrales birds, New Mexico birds

Wordless Wednesday



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Filed under Corrales birds, New Mexico birds