NEW MEXICO BOOTHEEL-JUNE 11-12, 2010
Birding the wild country of the bootheel in southwest New Mexico is not for the casual birder. With no services for miles, one must be totally self sufficient. We started south of the village of Animas with multiple singing Botteri's Sparrows, here at the extreme north edge of their range. Continuing to Dunagan's Crossing, a cottonwood-lined arroyo, we were treated to encounters with Gila Woodpecker, Common Ground Dove, and a very vocal Zone-tailed Hawk that was obviously nesting somewhere in the grove. As we entered the oak pine zone of Clanton Canyon, we began to find birds typical of the area such a Mexican Jay, Scott's Oriole, Hepatic Tanager and Dusky-capped Flycatcher, a versatile Myiarchus genus member that ranges in diverse habitats all the way to Argentina. As night fell, we were treated to great looks at Whiskered Screech Owl, another bird at the northern edge of its range, as well as a trusting Elf Owl. Next morning found us on the road early (4:30am) on our way to Guadalupe Canyon at the junction of Arizona, New Mexico and Old Mexico. As we were keen to see NM species, we embarked on the 3 mile hike back in to the NM border. Guadalupe is a beautiful canyon lined with cottonwood and Arizona Sycamore. Birding highlights included Varied Bunting, Northern Beardless Tyranunlet, Hooded Oriole, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Thick-billed Kingbird, Common Ground Dove, and Broad-billed Hummingbird. The raptor show was great as well with several Zone-tailed and Gray Hawks putting in appearances. Once late morning arrived, however, we were forced to retrace our steps to avoid the searing mid day heat. On our trip back through Rodeo, NM, we were able to locate both Crissal and Bendire's Thrashers. The long drive back to Albuquerque and Santa Fe finished off a most enjoyable weekend.