I began documenting my annual wildlife highlights in 2008, and it has become an annual tradition. This is my 14th edition.
A friend kept reporting that she had a Black-chinned Hummingbird at her feeder throughout the winter. On March 1, the Black-chinned disappeared and an Anna’s Hummingbird started visiting. I went to see it that afternoon. Since I was having trouble with my foot and ankle, she let me watch from inside her family room, instead of having to sit on the porch. Thank you Cindy! While I was further away than those who sat outside, I was still able to document it with this photo.
When I returned from church on April 17, Easter Sunday, I saw reports of a Little Blue Heron at the North Fourth Diversion Channel. It was still there mid-afternoon when I was able to visit.
A Purple Gallinule showed up on one of the internal ponds in the bosque at the Alameda Open Space on June 9. On June 11, I visited with my niece, a budding birder from Texas. There were a lot of people and I would have had to walk down a muddy slope to take its picture. My friend Deanna Nichols graciously shared her photo with me.
I continued to pursue my passion for bugs using the i Naturalist app. On July 11, I observed this Leafhopper Assassin Bug as I walked along the bike trail behind my house.
During my shifts as an interpretive volunteer in the Rio Grande Nature Center Visitor Center, I enjoyed watching the American Bullfrogs as they matured across the summer and on into the fall and helped visitors to spot them.
I saw the report of a Fulvous Whistling Duck being seen at the North Fourth Diversion Channel in the late morning of August 21. I had promised to help my son with something right after lunch. When I was finished, I drove out to the Diversion Channel hoping it was still there – and it was. I was not able to get my own photo, and fellow-birder David Lerwill agreed to share his with me. “You were the one that got me started keeping track of bird sightings on eBird,” he reminded me. “We were looking for the wintering Northern Cardinal at the Botanical Gardens. This is my chance to say thank you.”
There has been an irruption of birds that are pinon-juniper specialists in Central New Mexico starting in September. One of those species is the Juniper Titmouse. One showed up in my yard September 28.
I continued to observe it off and on until the end of November.
When I arrived at the Rio Grande Nature Center for my shift in the Observation Room on October 19, a fellow birder showed me his pictures of an American Bittern he had taken through the blind before the Visitor Center opened. Throughout my shift, I kept checking the area where it had been seen in the hopes it would return. Shortly before my shift ended, it reappeared and I was able to get a picture.
A Greater Pewee was reported in the bosque south of the Tingley Lagoon November 4. Fortunately it continued to stay around until I was able to visit on November 9. As I was getting out of the car and putting on my binoculars, I saw several birding friends and walked over to greet them. I grabbed my keys and headed out with them. I finally heard, then saw it. I studied it with my binoculars, then edged closer and reached for my camera and discovered I had left it in the car. I scurried the half-mile back to the car, retrieved my binoculars and hurried back and was relieved that it was still hanging out, but in another location that was actually quite good for taking its picture.
A Tundra Swan arrived at the Rio Grande Nature Center on December 6. I was glad it hung around. I was able to go and see it on December 12.
We were able to include it in our Christmas Bird Count in the Observation Room on December 18 when it only had a small patch of open water in the frozen pond. It continued to the end of the year.
An American Dipper was observed in the drain near the Montano Bridge on December 18 during the Christmas Bird Count. It continued and I was able to finally see it on December 17, where I observed it clinging to the side of the wall of the drain under the Montano Bridge as it bobbed down and grabbed crustaceans.
There has been an influx of Townsend’s Solitaires this winter. We saw a record 23 on our Christmas Bird Count route in the East Mountains. And, on the last day of the year, I was graced with one who came into drink several times at my feeder.
It has been a wonderful year of wildlife sightings – all within Bernalillo County!