Misc–ABQ birds 4/27 to 5/30

Taking a quick break from thesis work to post some sightings and photos from the past month and a half.

On April 27th, the day before the Thursday birder birdathon, I hopped over to the Rio Grande Nature Center to see what was around. I don’t remember if I had a specific reason or not. While there, I noticed mixed flock of gulls flying north and then back south, including Ring-billed Gulls and, more exciting, Franklin’s Gulls (Bernalillo species #198). Later, at the Candelaria wetlands, a flock of blackbirds included a few Brewer’s Blackbirds (#199) and I found a single Long-billed Dowitcher feeding in the back with that characteristic sewing-machine movement. #200! No bells or whistles went off–it’s just another bird.

I did get my first photo of a Common/White Checkered-Skipper. Why the slash in the name? These two species are both variable in appearance and can look almost identical; the only way to separate them (at the moment) is dissection of the male genitalia. Genital differences are an important method to determine if two insects are a species or not.

The same day, I stopped by Los Poblanos open space, probably to check for some standing water and any gulls or shorebirds or egrets. None of those but I quickly glimpsed a male Black-throated Gray Warbler (NM species #259 and Bernalillo #201).

Black-throated Gray Warbler in CA. Photo by matt knoth from Flickr and used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Someone was nice enough to feed the horse statue.

This Ring-necked Pheasant startled me as it ran out of a bush. Then he strutted away!

The day after the intense east plains birdathon trip, I got word of a rare eastern warbler back at the nature center. Of course I was going to go. Several of the ABQ area’s birders were at the scene, a few of whom I’d accompanied over the weekend. I did find all on my own a couple of reported Northern Waterthrushes (Bernalillo species #202) in the ditch. The rarer warbler took some time but eventually either Raymond or Cole coaxed it out of the brush and there was a young female Prothonotary Warbler (NM species #291 and Bernalillo #203)! A somehow I hadn’t seen a Brown-headed Cowbird in the county yet (#204).

Mid-may saw a flurry of sightings from the UNM campus. I missed a reported Rose-breasted Grosbeak, but did finally see a Green-tailed Towhee in the county and a surprise Gray Catbird on May 9th (#208-209). A few days later, I found (or re-found) a migrant Swainson’s Thrush (NM species #294 and Bernalillo #210), quite rare in the state. A different Swainson’s was around a few days after that.

On May 14th, I heard my first county Yellow-breasted Chat across the river from the nature center trails (#211).

Yellow-breasted Chat in AZ. Photo by Marcel Holyoak at flickr and used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

On May 16th, Melissa and I went to Embudito Canyon and Doc Long picnic area in the Sandias. The canyon was very productive early in the morning: many calling quail, a family of Cactus Wrens, numerous singing Black-chinned Sparrows, and a loud by skulking Rufous-crowned Sparrow. A Northern Mockingbird was new for the county (#212) at Embudito and a Grace’s Warbler heard at Doc Long was #213.

A Vermilion Flycatcher showed up north of the nature center on the 18th and stayed for a few days; I saw it on the 19th and 20th. (Not a new one for the county–I saw one in April on restricted county property south of the airport.)

An eBird report of buntings at the Tingley Beach bosque ponds send me there on the morning of the 20th. Birding was slow at first, but I found an area of fruiting mulberry trees which were full of Black-headed Grosbeaks and Cedar Waxwings. Present in smaller numbers were Green-tailed Towhees on the ground, a single Blue Grosbeak, and the birds I came to see: Lazuli and Indigo Buntings (#214-215). Flycatchers were all over that day: six species at the ponds including Hammond’s (#216) and Olive-sided. A foursome of Cattle Egrets (#217) were present that day in a field near the Vermilion Flycatcher at the nature center. When I showed up at the nature center, some birders told me about an Ovenbird that had been seen earlier but not for a few hours. The hordes of school kids might have had something to do with that–after things quieted down, I tracked down the elusive Ovenbird (NM species #295, Bernalillo # 218) for a few quick views deep in a bush.

Phred texted me on the 30th about a Blue-winged Teal at the UNM duck pond and then about a Northern Parula. I found both, as well as several species of flycatchers and the continuing female Wood Duck and her two chicks.

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