Last week I had a horrible day in court in Los Lunas, which is the county seat of Valencia County, south of Albuquerque. I lost a case I should have won. The preparation and presentation were as good as I could have possibly done. Some days the judge does not agree with you.
After a bad day in court I needed some time outdoors. The Belen Marsh is about 10 minutes from the Valencia County Courthouse, and I knew that I would feel better if I spent some time there.
John Fleck of the Albuquerque Tribune has written a nice article on the Belen Marsh, which is located right next to a Taco Bell and is sometimes known as the Taco Bell Marsh, and Ryan Beaulieu, the young man who is credited with discovering the Belen Marsh and bringing it to the attention of the birding public.
When I arrived at about 5:30 p.m. it was cool and very windy. The first thing that I saw was a Western Kingbird sitting on the fence next to the Taco Bell. The light could not have been more wrong for a photo but still, it’s a beautiful bird.
There were many male and female Red-winged Blackbirds on the cat-tails in the marsh, and I began to feel better as I listened to their beautiful song.
There were many Black-necked Stilts walking around in the marsh. It was fun to watch them walking and picking through the marsh. I began to smile as I watched them.
It was even more fun to watch the Wilson’s Phalarope spinning in tight circles as they fed. As I watched them I found that I was starting to forget all about my bad day in court.
There were beautiful Cinnamon Teal, shy Ruddy Ducks and stately Northern Shovelers in the marsh. As I watched them swim serenely in the marsh ponds I felt the last traces of stress and anxiety slip away, and I began to truly enjoy the early evening in the marsh.
I began to prepare to return to what these days passes for civilization and noticed a group of Short-billed Dowitchers feeding near the edge of the marsh.
Watching these lovely shore birds as they fed was a wonderful conclusion to a pleasant visit. I left the Belen Marsh with my mind and spirit refreshed.
Here is a short video of Black-necked Stilts and Wilson’s Phalarope feeding in the marsh. I did not have my tripod with me and the wind was pretty fierce; still the video does show the feeding behavior of both species.
(Best viewed at 720p.)
The Belen Marsh is a small 16.5 acre “accidental” depressional wetland that occurred when a high water table in the area caused water to seep into an area that was excavated to obtain dirt for a nearby road construction project. It is a small but important birding area, and New Mexico birders appreciate the efforts of the Belen Marsh Committee, the Valencia County Fair Association and the Central New Mexico Audubon Society to maintain it as a marsh.