Bella Vista Creek

Welcome to Bird of the Day!

You might notice some recent changes to the blog. For one, the banner image above has changed from Mustang Island on the Gulf coast to a picture of a local birding spot near my house. Likewise, I plan to focus many of the upcoming posts on birding that area. On the right hand side of the page you will also see the addition of a new gadget that lists what birds have been seen in that area in the last 30 days. Further below, there is a link to ebird for more historic information about the birds seen at Bella Vista Creek. Feel free and contact me on the blog about what you think. Click on images to enlarge. (All photos by gbmcclure)

Oct 29, 2010

The Sandias

On the last full day I was in Albuquerque, we decide to drive up the backside of the Sandia mountains to the top of the crest. In addition to birding I thought I might also get a good view of the changing fall leaves and some neat landscape photos of the Burque and the valley from the top. The following are some of my favorite.

Going Up

South from Sandia Crest

Southwest from Sandia Crest

These last two photos were taken from the deck on the backside of the restaurant and gift shop @10,500ft. To me, it feels like it hangs over the edge of the mountain. One of the neatest things that takes place on this deck is the banding of Rosy Finches. Unfortunately, I was about a week early; however, in a pine tree just next to the deck were a large group of Pine Siskins and a nearly ten Red Crossbills. Both species were more than happy to let me shoot as many photos as I wanted and the Pine Siskins even came within an arm's reach. So close that I had to back down on the zoom lens--a rarity in the bird photography world! Her are a two of the better pics, species should be obvious.

Pine Siskin

Red Crossbill (male)

Interestingly enough, the female Red Crossbill is yellow. I caught this girl in the middle of her lunch.

Red Crossbill (female) 2

Later from the same deck, a pair of Steller's Jays joined the group.This guy landed on a branch just below me and I couldn't pass up the chance to film a bird from above. I usually only get this view of sparrows!

Steller's Jay

The Birdwatcher's Companion has more information on Steller, if you are interested.

After leavin the deck we walked down a trail that follows the top of the mountain to the south. Along the path, we continuously flushed this Hermit Thrush down the trail. He was pretty content to look for food and stay about 30 yards ahead of us. Occasionally we would all stop and I would take a picture. This is about the closest and best one I got.

Hermit Thrush

By this time my legs were pretty sore from the race the day before and every step down in elevation felt pretty bad so we got back in the car and headed back to down. THe rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, yet beautiful, until the very bottom of the mountain when we got this very good look at a Western Scrub-Jay. This bird is the country relative of the Blue Jay we tend to see in town here in Texas.

Western Scrub-Jay

Oct 27, 2010

Close to Home

After the race on Sunday morning all I really wanted to do was eat a gigantic breakfast burrito smothered in red and green chile (Christmas style)and lay down on the couch. But later in the afternoon my dad said he was going for a walk along the irrigation ditch that parallels the Rio Grande, and I thought it might do my legs a bit of good to stretch out--not to mention check out some of the birds that might be hanging around in the neighborhood.

We had only gone a half-mile or so before we noticed quite a bit of activity across the ditch. In front of us was the ditch filled with water, the a yard or so thick of tall grass and brush, and beyond that some cottonwoods. At first I noticed the sounds of the nuthatches I had been listening to in my parents backyard all weekend, and then I noticed the obvious behavior of what I thought was a Western Kingbird. When I looked at the photo I took later on I realized it was a Say's Phoebe. You can really see the rusty sides in the photo, even from this far away distance.

Say's Phoebe

Oct 22, 2010

Piedras Marcadas

This past weekend I took a well-needed break from work and went back to Albuquerque, NM, to do four things: see my family, eat green chile, run the Duke City half-marathon, and bird.

The first place I went (to bird that is, as I had already stopped off with my mom to eat at El Patio) was the Petroglyph National Monument. Because of development this amazing space is now seemingly in the middle of town, but from certain spaces you feel like you're on the moon. Below is a picture I took of looking across the valley to the Sandia mountains on the other side of town.

Sandias from Piedras Marcadas

By the time I got there it was at least 10:00 AM and it appeared to be very quiet, but as I crested the top of the mesa the boulders and bushes came alive. Roadrunners and cottontails darted out of sight. Luckily, others were less concerned by my presence. Canyon Wrens and Towhees hopped between the rocks looking for food and occasionally took moments to jump to the top of a nearby bush and belt out a song like this guy.

Caynon Wren

Though not quite as bold this Curve-billed Thrasher came out from between the rocks more than once to check things out.

Curve-billed Thrasher

Perhaps my two favorite birds of the day, however, were birds I also see regularly in Texas. Their colors combined with the distinct colors of the New Mexico backdrop just really made them stand out.

White-crowned Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow

House Finch
House Finch

Because the monument and the birds were so beautiful I would have loved to stay longer, but forgetting I was no longer in Texas I failed to apply sunscreen and couldn't risk the dehydration race day eve!