“There is a Black Phoebe sitting on the top of a twig at the edge of the river,” Dave said as he peered through his scope. “And there is a Snowy Egret on the sand bar a little further down river.”
Seventeen Central New Mexico Audubon Thursday Birders were standing single file on the narrow trail that leads north from the parking lot at the northernmost end of the Corrales Bosque. It provided a wonderful view of the river and an opportunity to look down on the canopy of trees growing adjacent to the Rio Grande.
One-by-one, we inched past each other to look through Dave’s scope, being careful to avoid the areas where the hillside had eroded almost to the trail.
“I have a male Blue Grosbeak,” Robert said from the head of the line. “It is still in breeding plumage.” I had heard one chipping in the canopy, but hadn’t spotted it. As we were watching, a female flew in and landed close by.
The Snowy Egret flew in closer, landed just below us, and then strutted off along the shore.
The day was cool and a stiff breeze buffeted a lone Barn Swallow as it flew by us. As we turned to head down and into the woods, we hoped the wind would be less intense.
As we entered the bosque, we stopped to watch a Western Wood Peewee as it flew out to snag an insect and then landed facing us. It gave us a good opportunity to view its ‘vest.’
A variety of hummingbirds, mostly Black-chinned, but with an occasional Rufous and Broad-tailed, zipped in and out of the cottonwoods. There were a plethora of Wilson’s Warblers feeding hungrily to be ready for the next leg of their flight south.
We came to a thicket of Russian olive trees which was a hub of activity. Black-capped Chickadees called their names as they moved from branch to branch. A White-breasted Nuthatch joined them. A Spotted Towhee scratched in the leaves under the bushes.
“There’s a MacGillivray’s Warbler,” someone pointed. Fortunately, I was close enough to the front of the line to get a look at it.
While some of us were watching the warbler, Rebecca, bringing up the rear, heard a flock of Pinyon Jays chattering as they flew down river.
We made our way up the bank and onto the levee, which allowed us to look out over the horse farms. We were startled to see three water buffalo lounging in a corral of one of the farms.
More Blue Grosbeaks and Lark Sparrows flitted in the stalks of corn. Occasionally one would land, the blue feathers contrasting with the golden-brown stalks of corn.
Someone spotted a raptor perched on some bare branches of a cottonwood that hung over the levee. Robert and Dave put their scopes on it. Was it a Cooper’s or a Sharp-shinned Hawk. We concluded that it was a Cooper’s Hawk due to its dark mantle and flat head.
A Green Heron lifted off from the bank of the drainage ditch, flew up channel and then settled down out of site in the bank-side willows. The grasses along the ditch were alive with sparrows, mostly chippies.
We stopped to watch some birds as they landed in the top of a century plant – molting Lazuli Buntings! “I think they should be our ‘bird of the day,’” Rebecca commented.
Trip leader, Gale, went over the sightings list back at the parking lot. We had 38 species for the morning. And then it was time to head over to Village Pizza.