Rowe Mesa/Pecos River July 24, 2012
With the breeding season winding down in northern New Mexico, it was not clear if we would find the usual suspects in our survey of Rowe Mesa and the upper Pecos River drainage. Starting at Rowe Mesa, about 25 miles southeast of Santa Fe, we birded a two mile transect that rises quickly from juniper/savannah habitat to mixed conifer, passing through pinyon/juniper and Ponderosa Pine/oak along the way. Most of the breeding neotropical migrants, many with fledged juveniles, were still present including Hepatic Tanager, Virginia's Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Plumbeous Vireo, Gray Flycatcher, and Townsend's Solitaire. Conspicuously absent was Grace's Warbler, possibly already departed for its migration to the mountains of western Mexico. While traveling to the monastery just north of the village of Pecos, we had the good fortune to encounter a large group of Pinyon Jays foraging roadside. This bird is definitely scarcer since the pinyon tree die off of the first decade of this century. At the monastery itself, amid pristine cottonwood/willow habitat, we found Cordilleran Flycatcher, Gray Catbird, Western Tanager, Yellow Warbler and an adult Common Raven feasting on a bright green snake! A vocal Virginia Rail scolded us from the marsh but refused to venture out. Further up the canyon, we visited the Terrero General Store where the mid summer hummingbird gathering was in full swing. Many Rufous Hummers had already arrived to mix in with the local Broad-tails and Black-chins. But the highlight was three adult male Calliopes, with their purple throat streamers, recently arrived from either western Montana or points even further north. Unfortunately, the nearby American Dipper nest held no young so the family there, very active a month ago, must have dispersed.