March 05, 2011

Bosque del Apache NWR February 25-26

Chupaderos from Bosque del Apache NWR

My wife and I make a trip to New Mexico every Spring but in the past it has always been during Spring Break, just a few weeks after most of the birds migrate north out of the refuge. But this year was different. Years of hinting and a well timed conference got us to NM in late February right around the time the birds usually leave. I checked the Friends of the Bosque website and the birds seemed to still be there so we drove south from Albuquerque on Friday with fingers crossed.

When we showed up at the bosque we were not disappointed. Thousands of geese still crowded around the edges of the northernmost ponds of the refuge and the cranes were busy in the corn fields preparing for the trip north. Along the loop road ravens and birds of prey soared overhead and tended their nests though they rarely chose to do so within camera range. Almost every pond held at least a few ducks or geese and a young mule deer graced us with his presence for a few moments before we headed back out to the ponds for the evening fly-in where wave after wave of cranes and geese came to the water for the night.

Sandhill Crane 4

We made an unplanned trip back to the bosque the next afternoon only to find that the refuge much changed. A strong wind was blowing out of the south and there was hardly a crane to be found. We briefly saw one small group in flight high above but none in the fields and only a few stragglers remained at the ponds. In the evening when we gathered at the ponds the number of geese was way down from the previous day and the wind was ferocious. Almost as if an alarm had gone off, all of a sudden geese started rising up out of the water in groups of ten and twenty, turning resolutely toward the north. As we drove northward ourselves, thousands of white dots painted the horizon giving us one last lingering glimpse of the winter visitors.

Snow Goose

Posted on March 05, 2011 06:38 AM by flapack flapack | 21 observations | 0 comments | Leave a comment

March 03, 2009

3-1-09 Pine Island Ridge

So you guys have inspired us to get out of the water and see what there is to see on dry land. We feel pretty confident on the reef but complete neophites on land. So we went out and purchased a butterfly field guide to florida and took a stroll through the local park and the "natural area" that connects it to our neighborhood.

Gotta give it to you guys, insects are way harder than fish. I think we correctly identified all the butterflies we ran accross this day but flipping through the pages, the differences in some of these guys is pretty subtle. I mean there are six pages of grass skippers that look exactly the same to my untrained eye. Zebra (heliconian), Julia (heliconian) and Atalas were plentiful. We also observed all three members of genus Danaus in the state of Florida.

Outside of butterflies, there were quite a few insects I probably naively call dragonflies. Can anyone recomend a good field guide for insects. I'm sure nothing can be particularly comprehensive given the number of species, but we've gotta start somewhere.

We also saw a southern ringneck snake and an unidentifiable brown snake that refused to smile for the camera. We didn't get any bird pics , but did see a couple of youngish Great Egrets, an unidentifiable hawk, and of course the everpresent American White Ibis.

We also observed a few species of spider. I got a few good pics of a banana spider and a spiny-backed orbweaver but the gruesome spider highlight of the day involved a species that I have yet to identify. I was searching some low bushes for spiders and saw a mating pair of dragonflies bumble into a web. They were still attached to each other so one thrashed around in vain while the undersized spider cautiously took care of the other. Just the idea of waiting around mid-coitus while watching your mate being wrapped up for dinner kind of freaks me out a little. I got some video but I didn't have a tripod with me so its pretty weak footage. If I can piece together something that doesn't induce vomiting maybe I'll post it later.

All in all, a fun day. Evidently you don't have to pack up loads of gear and drive to the beach to have a good time. Who knew?

Posted on March 03, 2009 07:28 AM by flapack flapack | 13 observations | 1 comments | Leave a comment

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