San Miguel County July 7, 2011
Together with a birder from Ottawa, Canada we ventured into areas still open despite the ongoing fires. Rowe Mesa gave us access to Ponderosa Pine forest that we could not enter in the national forest. Although breeding season was on the wane (as evidenced by a male Black-throated Gray Warbler diligently feeding an enormous Brown-headed Cowbird fledgling) we still managed to find area specialties such as Virginia's and Grace's Warblers, Hepatic and Western Tanagers, Plumbeous Vireo, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Gray Flycatcher, and Pygmy Nuthatch. Moving on to the Las Vegas area, we were treated to several singing male Black-chinned Sparrows in La Liendre Canyon as well as resident Rufous-crowned Sparrows. On the way back to Las Vegas, we heard and saw several territorial Cassin's Sparrows as well as an obliging family of Burrowing Owls. An adult Ferruginous Hawk was a bit of a surprise as they normally don't summer near Las Vegas. At the national wildlife refuge we continued to hear Cassin's Sparrows and, at Crane Lake, lucked out with a Long-billed Curlew feeding among about 20 American Avocets. Several Clark's Grebes were present though I doubt they will be able to breed with such low water levels. A female Canvasback was a big surprise as that bird is normally far north of New Mexico in the breeding season. On our way back to Santa Fe, we stopped at the Benedictine Monastery just north of Pecos where the lush riparian habitat harbored a singing male Indigo Bunting and a pair of Gray Catbirds at the western edge of their range. A most surprising 90 species was our total count for the day.