29 Apr We see some nice things in the Southwest
posted from Seattle, WA, April 29 2023
Delia held out a long time before scheduling a trip to the Bootheel this time. This winter was one thing after another–sound familiar?
We decided to chase a Red-headed Woodpecker that was spending the winter in a huge mature Cottonwood tree between San Simon, AZ and Rodeo, New Mexico. This bird was originally found by our friend Richard Webster. The tree, apparently an artifact of well-irrigation, may be the only big tree between the two metropolises. (Rodeo pop: 100 plus or minus.).
The tree was near a house and we didn’t want to bother anyone, we had groceries that were heating up, and we needed to get to the house before dusk, so after an hour of staring at leaves and branches, I began to whine about wanting to give up. Delia reparked and widened the search zone and finally I heard her say, “I’ve got the bird.” She got me on it in a few seconds and all of a sudden the whole idea seemed brilliant. I hadn’t seen one since a morning in Indiana back in ’14. One of my favorite birds, and I’m not alone.
Also brilliant, in the process we “discovered” a shortcut to Rodeo that saves us miles on ever-dangerous I-10 and lots of time and gas.
As we neared the end of the Canyon, the White Cliffs hoved into view. But the road in had been miserable for Delia, who is the designated driver for safety reason. She put her foot down, we don’t go back down the road until we leave for the last time. Sounds good to me
The migration was getting underway and while we were there the Broad-billed Hummingbirds arrived. This one must have the nickname, “Handsome Dan.”
The beautiful flute-like song of the Scott’s Oriole began to be heard in the canyon during our visit. This was always one of my father-in-law’s beloved birds.
We found some frozen fruit that had been left at the house and gave the Orioles (Scott’s and Hooded) most of the tangerines we brought up. This is a Hooded.
Chpping Sparrows and Juncos are the wintering seedeaters of the upland Peloncillos. The Juncos were already gone and the Chipping Sparrows numbers dropped off while we were there. They were headed north to places like, perhaps, Washington state.
We birded pretty had in the canyon, but perhaps due to our advancing age, we never hiked over the pass to the Animas side of the range. From the time we turned off the car engine to the time we turned it back on we observed 67 bird species, We learned a new flowering plant that is endemic to the Greater Peloncillos, a Oakwoods-prairie clover, shown here.
Water levels were high in the area. We never stopped being thankful for the good monsoon and winter rains which came as a surprise to us. The Southwest dries out pretty fast, but we could see the difference on the land. We even had a Robin that overwintered in the Canyon and a Golden-crowned Sparrow, two birds that we associate more with Beacon Hill and have only rarely and never seen in the canyon before.