I think this may be the first time I've "blogged from the road" on a vacation. Beth and I are here in Albuquerque and we're having a blast. Wonderful food, extremely nice people, great arts and crafts, and some fantastic birds. We had a little snow yesterday but today was lovely.
This morning we birded the Rio Grande Nature Center where we saw lots of ducks including tons of Wood Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, a few Greater Scaup, lots of Shovelers, and several other species. An extremely cooperative Roadrunner allowed Beth to take a ton of pics. A large flock of Cackling Geese was a nice sight along with our first Sandhill Cranes in a nearby field. This nature center is very well maintained with fine trails and blinds. White-crowned Sparrows are definitely the easiest bird to find here. There were dozens upon dozens. Here are some pics thanks to Beth. Be sure to keep reading after the pics.
We then headed over to nearby Petroglyphs National Monument. Our target birds were Rock Wren and Sage Sparrow. Despite the place being a feast for the eyes, it was pretty birdless. On a 45-minute hike we literally saw one bird - a Rock Wren.
Then, we headed up to the famous Sandia Crest at 10,000+ feet. The drive up was a bit treacherous due to the 6" of snow they had received yesterday, but it was also phenomenally beautiful due to the snow clinging to the pines, firs, and aspens along the road. It was an amazing sight. Bird-wise, we found Stellar's Jays, a Golden Eagle, and Mountain Chickadee along the way up. We also saw the quirky Abert's Squirrel (see below) known for it's tassel-like ears. At the top of the crest, we saw our quarry - the 3 species of Rosy-finch in all their glory. While enjoying the birds, we also enjoyed a green chile cheeseburger and some Frito pie (it's a local thing - very tasty).
We finished up the day with one of our favorite non-nature activities - wine tasting! New Mexico has some great wines and we sampled a bunch. Stay tuned for more postings over the next few days! (All pics courtesy of Beth)