Everything was running late this morning. The Thursday birders met at Rinconada Canyon in the Petroglyphs National Monument at 9 AM, but I got there at 9:45 after dropping Melissa off at school (which didn’t delay me much at all). I forgot my camera and sunglasses. And when I got to the canyon, I took the wrong side of the loop trail before realizing the group had gone the other way. I didn’t need to rush; it was a slow morning for birds although the lack of wind and relative warmth was a relief.
Taking the wrong trail led me to very close views of a Prairie Falcon (Bernalillo bird 171) perched on an electrical pole at the base of the mesa. Rock Wrens abounded in the area, a Crissal Thrasher sang a few bits of song, and an unidentified thrasher flew away from me before I could see any details.
After catching up with the group, we seemed to see fewer birds. Some of the group got quick looks at a Canyon Wren but I only heard it calling. The Prairie Falcon flew around the basalt boulder slopes, perching a few times. The group had seen few sparrows so far, so a crisply plumaged adult Black-throated Sparrow was a treat.
The hike back along the cliffs was quiet. Some sparrows in the scrubby vegetation provided some excitement, but most of them were too far away and in bad lighting. One sparrow I saw was dipping its tail, apparently a characteristic of Sage Sparrows.
Gary and Lefty (two of the Thursday regulars) were going to look for the Varied Thrush in Corrales and I tagged along. After the lunch buffet at Village Pizza in Corrales, we started birding at the end of La Entrada road. The feeders at one of the houses there held some Bushtits (Sandoval bird 83) and a Western Scrub-Jay. Gary asked why we were spending time at the feeder if the thrush wasn’t seen there–good question!
Listening and looking for movement in the cottonwood leaf litter just turned up Spotted Towhees, Song Sparrows, and Hermit Thrushes. The three of us wandered sometimes looking together and sometimes separately. When Lefty and I were on the opposite side of the ditch and thick bushes, I got a glimpse of the Varied Thrush before it moved out of sight. We called Gary over for another set of eyes but it took a good 10 minutes for us to find it again. The thrush obliged us by perching fairly in the open before moving higher into a Russian Olive to feed on the berries for a few minutes. Then she was gone!
We saw a few other species including Gambel’s White-crowned Sparrows, several flavors of Dark-eyed Juncos, and a flyover Eastern Bluebird which was my 84th species in Sandoval County.