Monday, May 24, 2010

New Mexico, south

After a food and wifi stop in Socorro I skipped on by Bosque since there was still s lot of rain about. Down the Interstate and, after a stop at Elephant Butte Lake and Dam, into the Black Range headed eventually for Silver City and friends with a bed an a shower. But first I wanted to check out some places in the Gila National Forest north of there. Stopped at the General Store in Hillsboro, where I've had good food and conversation, and instead got the world's most obnoxious waitress. Bossy, rude, down-right mean to other customers, and easily stiffed. Enough to mess up a morning. Started checking out various stops along the range crest, best was Iron Creek with Red-face Warblers, Painted Redstarts, and Grace's Warblers, among other good birds. Made an exploration into Gallinas Canyon, but the day had grown a little too warm for that to pay off. I turned off in Mimbres and headed for Lake Roberts, with a stop at the TNC Mimbres preserve. Again not a real good time of day, and the creek was high enough to keep me out of their deeper preserve, but just working the edge of the accessible meadow was rewarding.

I went on by the lake and drove north to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, but their bridge was closed so getting back into the edge of the wilderness area was more trouble than I wanted when it was already getting late. Went back to the lake and found the hummer lady, the one who has the festival later in the summer. She was really nice, and had a very birdy yard. Four species of hummers too, but she said at least four more would be around later in the year. Got a great up-close look at Magnificent Hummingbird. I stayed in the NF campground at the upper end of the lake, tried for owls, primarily Flammulated, up the hillsides after dark, but had no luck.

Sunday, April 18

The next morning I headed down the highway (a pompous name for an unlined hardly two-lane blacktop, still it has a state number) to Pinos Altos. Stopped at several of the campgrounds along the way, found Olive Warbler and Virginia's, both not very visible, but singing. Spring birding is good that way. Got into Silver city and went to my friends Diana and Bob Leyba's, where all the blessings of civilization were bestowed, to wit, shower, laundry, hair and beard cut, a bed to sleep in, mindless TV, and best of all, a Chinese buffet dinner with Diana.

Monday, April 19

A good night's sleep, wifi at McDonald's, mailing checks, bird around the Little Walnut picnic area, then back for a great visit with my old buddy and business partner from Philadelphia Patrick Mulligan, now retired full time curmudgeon and rider of off road bicycles. He could make a fortune writing political commentary for comedians. Back into town to hang at Diana's Art Supply called Leyba and Ingalls and watch the world. Bought one of her beautiful Day-of-the-Dead Tee shirts. Met one of her friends, Beth Menczer, artist and rural settler, who works with Diana on the public mural projects in Silver and other nearby communities. Beth said she had seen Montezuma Quail near her place in Glenwood, and I was still trying to get the hundred dollar look at that species, so I got directions and ended up staying in the truck at her place. Was able to sneak in some Glenwood Fish Hatchery birding too. We shared some pizza for dinner and told stories after she showed me her place quickly (better the next morning). No quail though, nor Cowbirds, strangely hard to find in NM.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Instead of birds I'd found a small paradise. She had a dog, noisy but easily mollified, several cats, numerous chickens, some caged and some freely ranging, an African Gray Parrot, a little fish pond, several Arabian horses, a whole house full of excellent art, her own and things traded for and otherwise acquired, beautiful landscaping, good bird habitat and big trees, and land that ran down to the creek flowing out of the Catwalk Canyon. The house was a hand-built, worked over several times, partly very nicely finished, and some "projects" around the edges. Funky and classy. I was entranced. We sat at the big table that dominated the kitchen, each fiddling with our computers, sharing links and talking 'bout this and that. Did I mention I was entranced? It was a space that bore witness to a long and detailed love affair, and a serious commitment to being emplaced fully and honestly.

I thought I recognized all that as it was a lot like what I've done on my land in Arkansas. Unfortunately, I haven't taken the plunge into animals or pets, since I simply love to travel too much, and responsible house-sitters are really hard to find. I don't think I've been as successful since my home momentum gets broken up too often by the travel itch. The best birding is the same time as the best gardening, and my garden is a mess.

Tuesday, April 20

After coffee, light food and light talk, I birded around her place and along the creek, then up the valley to the Catwalk parking area. I was watching for the quail, but none poked their weird heads out for my anticipated delight. Headed out from there for a drive along the Arizona/New Mexico border, crossing sorta randomly as the highway offered opportunity.


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