• Bill West


On the way back from seeing the rarity Anhinga at a golf course in Hobbs, I decided to check out this seldom birded location west of Roswell. Although a cold night, the morning warmed quickly. Being late October, the sparrow activity was high with many species including Brewer's, Cassin's, Vesper, Savannah, and Sagebrush. The latter were quite a treat here at the southeast edge of their wintering range. A unique combination of gray head, medium brown back, and black tail, this specie is a most handsome southwestern bird. Other notable sightings included a newly arrived Ferruginous Hawk, a migrant Red-naped Sapsucker, and multiple fly over Chestnut-collared Longspurs. Another aerial treat was several passing Sprague's Pipits, one of which circled back to give me some decent in flight views.

Later in the morning I hiked below the dam along a hackberry lined arroyo. Although I encountered nothing noteworthy, a Great Horned Owl flushing was certainly a treat. Walking back toward the car another owl took flight, this one discernibly smaller. After several near misses, I could see the bird was a Long-eared. Hopefully it can survive the winter in close quarters with its arch enemy the Great Horned. As I finally reached my car, several V's of Sandhill Cranes passed overhead, heading toward some wintering playas toward the southwest.

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