Our Audubon group excursion to Spirithaven Ranch on the Pecos River just south of Santa Rosa had to be moved from 9/11 to 9/17 due to the biblical rains that fell last week. Our hosts, ranch owners Fred and Colleen Hinker, recorded almost 8 " of rain during the previous week. At one point, both their exit roads to the rest of the world were impassable. By the time we arrived on 9/17, the waters had subsided some and we found lush conditions on the ranch, albeit with several gravel roads still washed out. Being the middle of fall migration, the birds comprised a mix of breeders and those just passing through. Summer Tanager, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Blue Grosbeak were lingering (with some males even still singing) while a surge of Wilson's Warblers and Western Tanagers indicated that a season's page was turning. Some other highlights included Eastern Phoebe, Solitary Sandpiper (with an apparent broken wing unfortunately), two Northern Waterthrushes, and an Eastern Kingbird-a first for the ranch. An Osprey at the ranch entrance crossing of the Pecos River seemed right at home although surrounded by mesquite and sandstone cliffs. The Hinkers have done a great job restoring this property and transforming it into a bonafide wildlife sanctuary. Kudos to them.
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