This past weekend Bosque Bill and I decided to go to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. We had heard that the fall colors were beautiful and that winter migrants were beginning to arrive. We left town early and arrived at Bosque del Apache happily anticipating seeing gorgeous fall color and lovely birds.
When we arrived at the entrance, the attendant asked if we would like to have a copy of the new Habitat publication, which is the official yearly publication of Bosque del Apache that has maps and information about the wildlife refuge. I was trying to affix the pass to the windshield and handed the magazine to Bill without looking at it. Bill looked at the magazine and said, “That’s me!” And surely enough it was.
Earlier in the year Bill and I had taken a photo workshop at the wildlife refuge, and I had sent the some photos to the Executive Director of the Friends of the Bosque del Apache NWR. Imagine our surprise when we saw my photo of Bill right in the center of the cover.
We were pleased to discover that this publication would be used at Bosque del Apache during all of 2012.
This is the original of the photo:
You might also enjoy reading the blog post about our day with the Harris Hawks, Bosque Bill and the Bird.
We had a lovely day at the wildlife refuge, enjoying the spectacular scenery and photographing birds.
Later in the day, I was able to persuade Bill to pose with a copy of the magazine. You can see the man behind the camera!
We saw some lovely birds that day as well, which I will write about in a blog post later this week.
A short ten days ago I posted a piece called Watch This Space. If you follow the link, you will find tiny, newly hatched hummingbirds in the nest. I admit that I was negligent in following up on the chicks’ progress. Eleven days after I took those photos I had lunch with Jill, who mentioned that I should come by her house because the tiny birds were now about to fledge. I went to her house yesterday evening, and one of the chicks had already fledged, leaving one still in the nest. I was fortunate to get photos of the remaining chick.
Update: Jill called me today, August 18th, and said that she watched the chick fledge at about 10:00 a.m. today.
Yesterday I posted photos of individual hummingbirds at Sandia Crest. Those photos, however, do not begin to show the large numbers of hummingbirds that were at the feeders. Here are a few group photos:
I took this short video of the hummingbirds skirmishes at the feeders. I hope you enjoy it.
I hope to do one more blog post on this trip to Sandia Crest which will show the lovely scenery and views from the area.
Update: I have posted photos and commentary on my walk up to Sandia Crest on my Photo Flurries blog.
Recently Bosque Bill and I drove to Sandia Crest to enjoy the scenery, the wildflowers and the birds that are in the area. Sandia Crest rises to 10,600 feet above the Rio Grande Valley below, and it is an easy one-hour drive from my house in Corrales. There were fewer wildflowers than we saw last year, undoubtedly because of the lack of rainfall. The hummingbirds, however, were out in force. There were Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Rufous Hummingbirds and a Calliope or two, although I did not get any photos of the Calliopes. Almost all of the birds that we saw were females. The males have probably already begun their migration south.
These single photos do not begin to show the numbers of birds at the feeders and how active the birds are. I will show those in my next post.
My friend Jill called me this weekend to say that she has a hummingbird nest with baby hummingbirds at her house. I went over to see them and found the nest in a Chinese pistache tree. The nest is a bit smaller than a golf ball.
A closer look revealed two tiny hummingbird chicks in the nest.
On the way home I saw these beautiful lilies. They have nothing to do with a post about hummingbird chicks, but they were lovely!
If the hummingbird chicks thrive I will be posting periodic updates of their progress. Watch this space.
A couple of weekends ago Bosque Bill and I decided to visit Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Bill is very enthusiastic about dragonflies, and there are many of them at Bosque del Apache in summer. I am always up for a road trip. It had been several years since I had visited there in summer, and I was looking forward to seeing the refuge. I knew it would be hot, and so I packed lots of cold drinks along with a cold picnic lunch.
We arrived at the refuge at mid-morning. As usual, the view across the refuge toward the hills was lovely.
It was interesting to see that in summer, the areas which in fall and winter are ponds for migrating birds are covered with plants that will become food for ducks, geese and cranes when the ponding areas are flooded in fall.
With temperatures hovering near 100ºF there was not a great deal of bird activity, but we did see a few birds:
An unruly gang of Neotropic Cormorants were roosting on snags along the Seasonal road.
We saw Blue Grosbeaks and Northern Mockingbirds and a few raptors. Either they were too far away for photos, or I was not quick enough with my camera. What we did see were dragonflies. They were beautiful!
By early afternoon Bosque Bill and I were hot and tired, and we took a break to eat our picnic lunch and tour the Visitor’s Center. After a lovely lunch we walked around the Visitor’s Center. Bosque Bill flushed a large covey of Gambel’s Quail sheltering from the midday sun under a Three-Leaf Sumac. I don’t know who was more startled, Bill or the quail. I was laughing so hard that I didn’t get a photo.
I sat in the (blessedly) air-conditioned Visitor’s Center and enjoyed watching the birds at the feeders. Black-chinned Hummingbirds and Rufous Hummingbirds were very busy defending the food source. I took some photos through the viewing window.
There were Bullock’s and Scott’s Orioles at the feeders as well.
Very few people visit Bosque del Apache in summer. It is hot, and it lacks the large numbers of migratory waterfowl that are present in the other seasons. There is still a great deal to see.
It has been extremely dry in New Mexico this year. There have been many terrible fires that have caused a great deal of damage. Because of the extreme fire damage, many of the areas that I like to visit to watch and photograph birds and wildlife have been closed to the public. Last weekend, after I visited a local Farmer’s Market, I decided to see if the Rio Grande Nature Center was open. The nature center and the grounds around it were open, although the part that extends into the Rio Grande Bosque was closed. While I was walking around the grounds, I saw quite a few Black-chinned Hummingbirds. One landed on a branch fairly close to me. As I stopped to observe her, I noticed that she had two chicks in a nest near where she landed. The nest was inside a large bush, and the lighting conditions were not the best. However, I was able to take a number of photographs.
I hoped that if I stayed quietly near the nest, the mother hummingbird would return to feed the chicks. I stood quietly and waited, and she arrived within five minutes.
Apparently when Mom Hummingbird is not taking care of the chicks she can be found hanging out at the local bar.
When I stopped by the Rio Grande Nature Center a little more than a week later, the chicks had fledged and the nest was deserted. I will check back to see if this little hummingbird mom will raise more chicks this year.