Saturday, December 15, 2012

Festival of the Cranes

I finally made it to the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, along with 42,000 Snow Geese, 6,500 Cranes and 2 Eagles, but who's counting..Who was counting? 

Having never been to New Mexico, the entire landscape was alien, so along with birds to be seen there was landscape literacy to be obtained.. Of course there is never enough time..and so many birds..and a plethora of interesting festival activities.. not all at the refuge & not all birding..This post focuses on  birding activities..

First up was a bird-spotting cruise on Elephant Butte lake..yes, butte..stop laughing... This is a man-made reservoir used by New mexico, Northern Mexico and Texas.

That is an Elephant's Butte in the distance.
The birds were mostly in the distance too, and since water levels were very low, we couldn't get much closer.. We spotted birds..lots of Eared Grebe spots,  a Great Blue Heron or two surveying the scene from far, far away..and White Pelican dots..There were also thousands of Western Grebes and some Clark's Grebes too (I was told)..

Western Grebe near the dock, willing to pose.

After the cruise, lunch and a guided riparian (river) walk along a Rio Grand tributary. Cactus Wren, Canyon Wren, Bewicks Wren, Ladder Back Woodpecker and Phainopepla were all life-birds..

Water levels were low.

Prickly Pears were high in the air.

Life bird! Phainopepla.

Meanwhile, back at the refuge..

Some of the 42,000 Snow Geese.

A Snow Goose Blue Morph.
Fly By...

                                            Fly In... 

Sandhill Cranes at Sunset.

If you go to this not take a bus tour.. We carefully chose one we thought would bus us to walk/watch.. Like going to the fly in..but we were only let out twice..and that is frustrating..especially for photographers..

From the bus....

Allowed out on a dock for some ducks.
Female Shoveler.

Another release..for the Sandhill Cranes at a corn field..seems these birds do not just volunteer for the festival, but are lured by corn planted expressly for them..and of course they are helped to survive.

                        Meet the Crane family.

Bye bye!

That afternoon I hopped into my car and took a whirlwind tour of the refuge on my own..Here are some highlights..

Ha, ha yes! Just who I wanted to see!
An  odd duck.. Blue headed Mallard.

Sleepy Shovelers.

Beautiful Pintails.

                                               Time flew...

The best bird was in the parking lot. Gambel's Quail.

The bird of time has but a little way to fly, and lo, the bird is on the wing~Omar Khayyam, "The Rubaiyat"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Near Pond

That really isn't it's name. This pond doesn't have one. It may be a sump for surrounding apartments, I always thought that's all it was. I drove by it for 30 yrs..literally. The trees hid most of it from view. I knew there was water there, but had never explored..until last summer...And so I have learned that natural beauty lurks right under your nose, in the darndest of places, where you would never just have to look..

The path around the pond, can you see the water in the distance?

Here was a miniature Eden..home to cattails instead of the invasive Phragmites.

Cattails, Greene's Rush (Juncus greeniei) and the glow of Golden hedge Hyssop (Gratiola auria), one of the few places this native flower survives on Long Island

Golden Hedge Hyssop (Gratiola aurea)

Dragonflies and Damselflies cavorted along the shore 
and soared over the water.

A Blue Dasher in no rush.

  A twelve spotted skimmer in Gratiola glow.

Atlantic Bluets enjoying a bonding experience.

                                             Calico Pennant hanging out.

Eastern Pondhawk on the shore

                            Widow Skimmer

There were many other native wildflowers!

Sickle Leaved Golden Aster (Chrysopsias falcata)
Hairy Bush Clover (Lespedeza hirta)
Northern Pearly Crescents enjoying a roll in the clover

The white flowers in the grass are Boneset

 Eupatorium hyssopifolium 

Pink Wild Bean (Strophosyles umbellata)

Some plants tho' beautiful, were not so native..Backyard pond-plant escapees

Wildly invasive Water Hyacinth  (Eichornia crassipes)
I pulled these out, as soon as I had identified them.

And other denizens..
Delaware Skipper

A toad stool (sorry, no ID)

And a Fowler's toad.

So much life in a small space, with Ospreys and hawks often circling overhead.. I took the "Road not Taken" and this made all the difference..Go out, explore!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Butterflies of Summer

I spent the summer chasing butterflies, in the garden and roadside wild spots.

There was an eruption of American Painted Ladies, I have never seen so many.

On roadside Spotted Knapweed, Centaurea maculosa, (non-native).

On Leadwort Plumbago in the garden.

Peek -a- Boo 

Another view (American Painted Lady),
on garden Cone Flower.

The ubiquitous Cabbage Butterfly.
Not any the less beautiful, for being common.
(On Monarda in the garden)

The gorgeous Swallowtails

Black Swallowtail
on roadside Japanese Honeysuckle,
Lonicera japonica, (non-native).
Diving in to garden Zinnia.

Tiger Swallowtail on garden Dahlia..
and  Joe Pye Weed..

On Zinnia..

Up and away.

Some Skippers..which often elude my ID patience..

Dreamy Dusky Wing on Coneflower.

Delaware Skipper on Invasive Japanese Stilt Grass,
(unfortunately in my garden).

Silver Spotted Skipper
on roadside Perennial Pea,  Lathyrus latifolius, (garden escapee).

Hairstreaks..those tiny blue darters of wonderful variety.

Gray Hairstreak on roadside Common Smartweed,
Polygonum hydropiper (native).
Dusky Blue Hairstreak on Garden Golden Rod.

And another tiny beauty

Little Copper on roadside Pokeweed,
 Phytoloca americana (native).

On roadside Early Goldenrod solidago juncea (native)

Another view

Alfalfa butterflies

On Red Clover Trifolium pratense,
European,  naturalized, in the garden.

On Leadwort Plumbago

How many butterflies can dance on the head of a flower?
Northern Pearly Crescent on Small White Aster,
Symphotrichium racemosa (native, in the garden).

Last, but never least, everyone's favorite..

the Monarch..

Having now migrated and left us to the Autumn..

Mid-Summer on Butterfly Weed , Asclepias tuberosa, native, in the garden.
Ablaze on roadside Bull Thistle.
 Cirisum vulgare (non-native)

Summer is fleeting, now it has passed, the beauty of butterflies vanished too fast...