Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Up into the Mountains Again.....

Left the motel at early o’clock and drove up into the mountains, arriving at dawn after a little ‘discussion’ with the local constabulary. Needless to say it was freezing and there was some ice on the mountain track as we drove up to over 8,000 feet. At the first stop we heard a Northern Pygmy Owl in the distance, which was quite exciting. However, at the next stop a little higher up (around 8,000 feet) we heard and then managed to spot a calling Northern Pygmy Owl perched high up in a pine tree, and then followed it as it flew to a huge dead tree where we scoped it. I was particularly pleased to get this recent split from the Pygmy Owl of Europe. Numerous juncos came in to mob the owl and it was amazing to see so many birds suddenly appear out of nowhere as the forest initially seemed devoid of birds. 

Northern Pygmy Owl

So we walked up the track in search of Pygmy Nuthatch and came across another Northern Pygmy Owl – wow! This one was much closer and drawing the attention of several Mountain Chickadees and we were treated to terrific views. Our luck was truly in as just after seeing this I heard a Pygmy Nuthatch in the distance and then there they were, four of the little beauties flew right up next to us. Always a treat to see and a decent trip tick indeed! 

Mountain Chickadee

Pygmy Nuthatch

Walking back to the car we had a female Williamson’s Sapsucker and then drove lower down where numerous Western Bluebirds and Townsend’s Solitaires were enjoying the morning sunshine.

From here we decided to forego the delights of the Bosque Grasslands and drove back up to Sandia Crest in the hope of some more rosy-finch action. Arriving at a decidedly chilly parking lot, we welcomed the heated restaurant from where we could view the feeders. 

Grey-headed Junco

Steller's Jay

Just a few Grey-headed Juncos and Steller’s Jays were coming in and we were thinking of leaving after a two hour wait when 3 Black Rosy-Finches appeared. After another hour of waiting and again thinking of leaving a single Brown-capped Rosy-Finch flew in! We were so pleased to get our second rosy-finch species and I think coming here a few weeks later would definitely result in all 3 species.

Black Rosy-Finch

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch

All that was left was to drive to the airport motel and a final great evening meal before flying back to the UK the next day.

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