Ladder Ranch CBC Dec. 18, 2013
The 6th annual Ladder Ranch CBC conducted on Ted Turner's 250K acre property west of Truth or Consequences was conducted on our original target date thanks to exceptional winter weather in the low 60's. 19 counters on 5 teams surveyed the ranch that had been drenched the previous September thus setting up quite a banquet for all the seed eating species. We posted high numbers for many sparrow species as well as Mourning Dove, Chestnut-collared Longspurs and a number of others. Although the water delivery system to the three ponds near headquarters had been damaged in the September storm and water levels were low, we recorded our highest diversity of waterfowl in 6 years including the never previously recorded Hooded Merganser (of which we saw 9!). Other firsts for the count included Black-and-white Warbler, Sora, Peregrine Falcon, Clay-colored Sparrow, Harris' Sparrow, and Dusky Flycatcher. The winter appearance of empidonax genus flycatchers in southern Arizona and New Mexico seems to be a bit of a trend. The Ladder CBC has had several previous occurrences of Hammond's Flycatcher as well. The new sparrows brought our 6 year total to 21 species. Our count for Chipping Sparrows, just shy of 1,100 was only surpassed by the over 1,300 count for Mourning Doves. Hopefully many of the species prospering from a bumper seed crop will have abundant breeding seasons this spring.