Ashli's report on the ABA Birding Rally

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Ashli's report on the ABA Birding Rally

From the Arizona-New Mexico Bird List, Ashli reports on sightings of the American Three-toed Woodpecker and many other interesting birds:

Subject: [AZNMbirds] NM: ABQ ABA Birding Rally
From: "Ashli Gorbet"
Date: 2/21/2013 8:23 PM
To: <>

Hi All,
From Sunday, Feb 17 through Tuesday Feb 19, the American Birding Association held a winter Birding Rally in Albuquerque. Sixty participants descended upon Albuquerque and were split into three groups which rotated through three different daily itineraries (Albuquerque Hotspots, Sandia Crest, and Bosque del Apache) each day. Michael Hilchey was more diligent than I in providing daily updates from the Sandia Crest, but I wanted to fill in members of the New Mexico birding community regarding some of the highlights from my three days of guiding trips through the Albuquerque Hotspots.
All three days, we followed the same itinerary. We started at Embudito Canyon where we were able to get ALL trip participants (twenty each day) excellent looks at CRISSAL THRASHER on two of the three days. Other highlights included the usual Embudito Canyon fare: Scaled Quail, Gambel’s Quail, Western Scrub-Jay, Cactus Wren, Canyon Towhee, Lesser Goldfinch, and Pine Siskin, among others. Each day, the Curve-billed Thrashers put on marvelous shows. On day one, we were treated to a Curve-billed Thrasher singing loudly as it built a nest in a cholla.
Next, we drove down Falcon Alley en route to the Rio Grande Nature Center. We only saw the PEREGRINE FALCON on the first day, when we were also treated to a gorgeous adult male, gray ghost, Northern Harrier. We saw the Harrier again on the third day, but on day two managed to miss them both.
At the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park, trip participants were excited to study Cackling Goose side-by-side with Canadas at the Candelaria pond. The other ponds around the park held Green-winged Teal, Wood Duck, Gadwall, and a pair of Hooded Mergansers, among others. During our mid-day visits, the herb garden feeders were active each day, with views of Spotted Towhee, three subspecies of Dark-eyed Junco (Pink-sided, Oregon, and Gray-headed), and good studies of color-banded White-breasted Nuthatches. On two days we observed a single Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler, and had looks at what appeared to be two different hybrid Black-capped x Mountain Chickadees.
We rounded out our days with visits to Tingley Beach (a.k.a. “Tingles” – thanks for that, Michael Hilchey) where we observed all three of the COMMON GOLDENEYE that have been wintering in the fishing ponds. Each day we had a group of 10-12 Neotropic Cormorant that also contained one Double-crested. We found multiple day-roosting Black-crowned Night-Herons and enjoyed views of an adult male Canvasback from the fishing pond areas. On the Wildlife Management Ponds we had a female Bufflehead, 6-8 Lesser Scaup, and a single male Pintail among others. We didn’t manage to track down any rails (bad time of the day to try for them), but on day one we finished the day with a Merlin, briefly observed a Marsh Wren on day two, and had nice looks of a flyover Sharp-shinned Hawk on day three.
It was a fantastic three days of birding with 65 species observed on Sunday, and 66 each on Monday and Tuesday on the Albuquerque Hotspot trips. Thanks to the ABA for holding this event in Albuquerque and bringing in a fantastic group of birders to bird central New Mexico!
Happy Birding!
Ashli Gorbet
Rio Grande Bird Research, Inc.
Albuquerque, NM

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Subject: [AZNMbirds] NM: ABQ Sandia Crest, Embudito Redux
From: "Ashli Gorbet" <>
Date: 2/21/2013 11:09 PM
To: <>

Hi All,
After spending three days rallying with the ABAers, Jason Kitting and I led a group of fine birders from Houston Ornithology Group around the Albuquerque area.
Yesterday, Feb 20, we birded the Sandias, beginning at the Tijeras Ranger Station. The folks at the ranger station have placed a bird bath on the east side of the visitor center and the bath was attracting a wonderful variety of songbirds that allowed very nice study. Males and females of Mountain and Western Bluebirds sat side-by-side as did Cassin’s and House Finches. A Sage Thrasher put on a nice show, and a flock of a half a dozen Cedar Waxwings looked absolutely stunning in the morning light.
After spending time watching swirling masses of birds in the (relative) lowlands, we made our way directly up to Sandia Crest to look for swirling masses of Rosy-Finches. With fresh snow at the crest, we were not disappointed. Rosy-Finches of all three species were on the feeders to greet us. We also got spectacular looks at both Interior and Hepburn’s forms of Gray-crowned. At the south end of the lower parking lot (just below the latrines), Red Crossbills put on a wonderful feeding show.
We watched Rosies until our heart’s content, then several of us took a walk to look for THREE-TOED WOODPECKER. Though the birds hadn’t shown themselves over the last few days, we were able to track down an adult male. All members of the group got treated to jaw-dropping, point-blank views of this bird sloughing bark off a tree as it was foraging.
We next descended to Doc Long where we had a mixed flock containing a nuthatch trifecta; at least two each of Red-breasted and White-breasted as well as double-digit Pygmies.
In the afternoon, we birded Tingley Beach and had much the same birds, as reported in my earlier message, that were seen during the ABA rally, including the three COMMON GOLDENEYE.
This morning, Feb 21, we birded Embudito Canyon. With about three inches of fresh snow on the ground, the canyon was a very different place than it had been during the rally. We dipped on Crissal Thrasher, but had spectacular views of both Scaled and Gambel’s Quail, Cactus and Bewick’s Wren, and Spotted and Canyon Towhee. We also had a very unusual female Downy Woodpecker whose bill was at least twice as long as a normal Downy’s. The small size and dark barring to the outer tail feathers screamed Downy, however. We believed this bird to merely be suffering from an abnormal bill aberration as opposed to being something more exotic (like a hybrid) as the bill depth looked typical for Downy. It was definitely an interesting bird and many pictures were taken.
All-in-all, Jason and I had a fantastic time hopping around town with some fantastic folks from Houston, Texas. A few of them had never hiked in snow before this morning and they all left with smiles on their faces!
Happy birding!
Ashli Gorbet
Rio Grande Bird Research, Inc.
Albuquerque, NM