I got going straight out of the airport. Picked up my rental, a Ford Focus, which I drive at home, making the trip so much more pleasant. I drove directly up to Sandia Crest House, where the rosy finches frequent the trees and feeders around the gift shop. It’s only open on weekends at the moment, and my plane landed just after noon on Sunday and wanted to get there before it closed. I arrived atop the mountain just before 2pm so had plenty of time on the deck, watching the feeders and even had lunch there. The rosy finches did not disappoint. At first it was just a few Gray-crowned Rosy Finches and then I was able to spot a few Black Rosy Finches. It wasn’t until later when a huge flock arrived and I spotteded a lone Brown-capped Rosy Finch.
Aside from the birds, the views from atop the mountain were superb. There was one other exciting moment. A rare daytime visit from a Ring-tailed Cat, a member of the raccoon family that is normally nocturnal. Two of the people who worked in the Sandia Crest diner and gift shop had not ever seen seen one, and the third had only seen one in the dead of winter and only at night.
I was staying at Elaine’s Bed and Breakfast part way down the Sandia Crest mountain,
and figured I’d go back in the morning and watch the feeder outside the Sandia Crest House. This time the rosy finches put on a show. Flocks of hundreds of them and ample opportunity to photograph them all.
Over the next few days I was able to locate both the Pinyon Jay and Sage Thrasher, both birds that have also been long on my target list and finally have added to my Life List, which now stands at 668 ABA Species, with the addition of 5 in New Mexico and the substraction of the Thayer’s Gull.
Other birds and views from New Mexico:
Townsend’s Solitaire taking wing: