The sun had barely peaked over the Sandia’s as the Thursday Birders gathered in the trailhead parking lot at Embudo Canyon. The early morning air was cool. While we normally head straight east into the canyon, trip leader Rebecca took us on a trail that lead north towards the base of the foothills.
We had only walked a short distance when someone spotted movement in the brush. The bird stayed low for awhile, and then popped into view and started singing quietly. It had its back to us, but when it turned its head, the white eye brow and whisker stripe stood out clearly – a Black-throated Sparrow.
“Listen to its song,” Rebecca suggested. “It sounds like a xylophone.”
A short distance away a Scaled Quail scampered between some bushes. Not everyone had a chance to see it, but we would see others before the morning was over.
A Canyon Towhee landed in a Cholla and further along we stopped to watch a Curve-billed Thrasher. “Even though it looks scruffy, it clearly is a curve-bill,” Lilli, who was visiting from Houston, commented. “Look at its orange eye.”
Rebecca heard a Crissal Thrasher, but we never saw it.
As we traversed along the base of the foothills, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds buzzed and many House Finches.
As the sun began to warm the hillside, we had to keep brushing gnats off our arms when we stopped to look through our bins. A few Barn Swallows cruised over the canyon to take advantage of a mid-morning snack.
“Oh, look,” someone exclaimed. “There is a roadrunner sunning itself on top of a rock.” However, before everyone could get a look, a runner with his large dog scampered down the hillside behind the roadrunner and it was off.
A Western Scrub Jay careened between some junipers.
Another scruffy Curve-billed Thrasher popped up in a Cholla. We decided that the thrashers must be molting – or else it was the same one following us.
“I hear a Ladderback Woodpecker,” Rebecca reported as it flew into the scrub. Charlotte went ahead on the trail hoping to flush it; however, it must have taken off down the hill.
A Scaled Quail stood sentinel in the top of a Four-wing Saltbush.
As we headed back towards the parking lot, a Cooper’s Hawk was perched on a rock on the opposite side of the canyon.
After leaving the group I drove along Haines St. that bordered the open space and caught this Curve-billed Thrasher standing watch.