Elk Mt. July 8, 2010

Summer birding in the mountains of northern NM is always a treat. We began at the base of Rowe Mesa along a ponderosa pine clad escarpment. As this is an ecotone between pinyon/junioer and ponderosa, we saw a mix of birds from both habitats. Virginia's, Grace's and Black-throated Gray Warblers, Gray Flycatcher, Plumbeous Vireo, Hepatic Tanager, Juniper Titmouse, and Townsend's Solitaire are all breeders here. After almost two hours of fun birding, we heading up the Pecos drainage above the village of Pecos. Stopping at the monastery just north of town, we enjoyed the ponds and lush cottonwood/willow habitat on the property. Gray Catbird, Blue Grosbeak, Bullock's Oriole and Lesser Goldfinch were some of the highlights here. Venturing further up the canyon, we found MacGillivray's Warbler and Green-tailed Towhee. Next we started to climb the mountain on a forest service road. Dusky and Hommond's Flycatchers, Orange-crowned Warbler, Williamson's Sapsucker were all breeders we encountered. On the highest ridge, (after a hail storm that covered the ground in white) we found high altitude specialists such as Clark's Nutcracker, Gray Jay, and Red Crossbill. After our descent back to the valley floor, we paused at the Terrero General Store and enjoyed the hummingbird show at their feeders that included numerous southbound Rufous Hummers as well as a lone adult male Calliope, complete with streaming purple gorget feathers.

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