To continue the tradition started last year – the following are my 10 top wildlife highlights of 2009 – listed chronologically.
1. Watching a Golden Eagle at close range as it sat on the top of a power pole across the road from where we were parked on a back road south of Moriarty, NM.
2. It was hard to choose which of the birds and mammals in Costa Rica were most memorable. I decided the bird had to be the Resplendent Quetzal because of its brilliant colors, and the White-faced Capuchin Monkey takes top mammal billing.3. Cactus Wrens in the Sandia foothills – spring nest-building and fall roost nest-building.
4. Watching the flocks of White Pelicans circle over the Bosque del Apache NWR during spring migration.
5. Watching Painted Buntings with their multi-colored, iridescent plumage visit the feeders at Los Maples State Park in the Texas Hill Country.
6. Having two Clapper Rails copulate right below me as I walked along the boardwalk on South Padre Island, Texas at dusk.
7. A Scott’s Oriole that landed on a bush near where I was exploring the Copper Trailhead Open Space doing research for the book I am co-authoring – Birding Hotspots of Central New Mexico.8. The Rufous Hummingbird that set up a migration territory in my yard for a week in September.
9. Avocets and Black-necked Stilts in the Los Angeles River.
10. Evening Grosbeaks – at a feeder in the Jemez Mountains, feeding young at Capulin Spring and a flock gorging on berries observed on the Christmas Bird Count.