Week before last was a lesson in the contrasts of New Mexico. Half my routes were on the banks of the Rio Grande, which is currently overflowing its banks and making for some bodacious mosquito habitat. They were making it extremely difficult to count birds, despite tons of Deet, by flying in my ears and up my nose. I may have to get a mosquito hood! Wet and/or muddy conditions, necessitating chest waders, continued on these routes. Imagine the looks I get from passers-by when I stomp out of the Bosque in that getup! This is the “path” I walk, every week 😉
In contrast, I also helped do some songbird surveys on a land grant between Albuquerque and Grants for a possible uranium mine. The scenery was awesome, but after years of overgrazing by cattle and a previous failed mining attempt, there were strangely few birds. Miles of hiking into and out of arroyos of various sizes. A golden eagle nest was one of the highlights, and some ultra-cool rocks (geodes on steroids) that cropped up in the weirdest spots. Of course I had to carry one back in my pack, but didn’t need the extra 15 pounds on my back! A few talus slopes yielded large layered crystals, which I tried not to be greedy about. I also found a recently deceased raven fledgling that apparently had flown into a bush and had a thorn driven into its breast. Bruising around the area, and my total inability to pull the thorn out, pointed to this possible COD.
A few other bird sightings, and an attempt to share the joy of getting caught in a spring flurry of “snow” from the cottonwood trees lining the Bosque!