Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Mexico, north

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Where I came into NM from Pagosa Springs wasn't very convenient for getting to Taos, the next stop. Didn't mind too much since I had treated myself to a greaseball breakfast, ham and eggs etc and was food mellow. Really scenic drive through Chama, Tierra Amarilla, and Tres Piedras. Some high elevation with snow, and I made a couple of stops to try calling Gray Jays, but no luck. One real interesting place was approaching the Rio Grande Gorge bridge. The recycled tire houses called Earthships have a large settlement there, maybe fifty plus structures, all different, colorful, imaginative and beautiful. Makes me wish I was young enough to devote a summer to pounding cementified dirt into old tires with a sledge hammer. Hoping to go back some time and look closer, they probably have some kind of limited tour setup.

In Taos I was trying to find a friend who had camped at my house in Arkansas a couple of times. I had her as a Facebook friend and had asked her to send a contact number, but it never came. I found some wifi in the library in Taos, sent another message after checking phone books and such, and then just had to keep going. We did eventually connect, but not to visit. I'll try again on another trip. I went down to Los Alamos, then west since I wanted to check out Valles Caldera, the remains of an old volcano. I had hoped to camp along a road near there, Rt 126, where I'd been many years before that seemed like it would be good birding, but it was still closed for the winter. About thirty miles south I found the first open Forest Campground in a long time and stopped there well before dark for a slightly more civilized and warmer night. Good birding along a little creek too.

Friday, April 16

I got out before dawn, having slept well. It looked like a fairly direct drive to the north end of the road along Sandia Crest, so I was sorta caught by surprise by one of those "low maintenance, may be impassable" signs. Kept going and did get to the top, but it was a lousy road, untouched by a grader since the previous summer probably, and leading into snow and mud by the end. Then suddenly blacktop, and quickly a parking area and picnic ground with lots of snow, but walkable crust back into the woods. I poked around in there for an hour. fairly good high elevation species, over 8000', but not many individuals. Just on the cusp of winter and spring. Driving out south-wards things got better quickly, made a couple of stops at pullouts, best birds were Red Crossbills, new for the state and possibly a new subspecies. Since the Crossbills have shown so much diversity, and are rumored to be subject to a major species split-up by song types, every one found in an region is a potential tic someday. Here's where recording every species seen every day has its justification.

Good roads all the way from there into Albuquerque, if you consider urban Interstates good roads. Took a little map puzzling to find my way into the Rio Grande Valley Nature Center, but it was well worth it. Great place, even being over-run by school kids. They tended to be clustered, and so easily avoided. The Visitor Center had a nice little wetland and pool with a viewing room. Got a few state tics there including Wood Duck. There was also some hummer action at feeders, and while chasing one of those saw a dove with red wing linings, Inca Dove, was only on the list there as an accidental. Very good bird. On the other side of the canal there was a Barred Owl sitting over the path, but I was disappointed to not be able to find Eastern Bluebirds which I'd been told were expectable. I ended up spending a couple of hours there.

Driving on south took me to Bosque del Apache NWR, one of the nation's premier birding places. It was later in the year than I'd ever been there, no big Crane and Goose show, but turned out to be very good birding, with some spring arrivals I'd have not expected. Got some new shorebirds for NM, and a couple of flycatchers. I ended the day with twenty new tics for New Mexico. As it was getting on toward dark, I headed into Socorro, food, then drive west to Water Canyon where I hoped to do some night birding on the road to the Cosmic Ray Observatory. Not to be. I was about halfway to the top when a major thunder-storm finally opened up. Found a wide spot on a curve where it was safe to park and sat it out. Like being in an artillery battle with half the strikes below me in a wide steep canyon, blasting and echoing. Lots of rain too, and I started to worry about getting back across the creek at the bottom. Drove back down and was turned back by the flooded crossing. There was a parking area with outhouse just before it, so I slept there listening to the storm and the raging creek alongside. In the morning it was a long hub-deep crossing, but not too bad since the storm had died and the worst of the run-off was clear.


Post a Comment

<< Home