New Mexico Vacation
25-31 July 2009
 by Henry Detwiler

Suzanne, the girls, and I spent a week in northern New Mexico visiting Santa Fe, Taos, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

88 species seen  Click here for bird checklist.
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos. border  

SATURDAY-SUNDAY, July 25-26, 2009

We left the hot Sonoran desert north of Phoenix and made our first stop at Wet Beaver Creek. Summer Tanagers and Yellow Warblers sang as we hike a portion of this scenic verdant creek.

beaver creek
Suzanne and Adriana at Wet Beaver Creek

The next morning we drove through the Cibola National Forest. Hiking alongside a small creek we first heard, and then saw a flock of Pinyon Jays high up on the hillside. After lunch we visited the Acoma Sky Pueblo and toured their city high atop a 6500-foot mesa. Even though it was pretty toasty, I hiked down the footpath used by four centuries of Indians, before a road led to the top

Acoma Sky Pueblo

MONDAY, July 27, 2009
ground squirrel
den-mantled Ground Squirrel.
On Monday morning we drove into the Jemez Mts. and started at Bandolier National Monument, hiking and birding our way down towards the Rio Grande River. Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels were a common sight among the beautiful red rocks.
As we traveled farther west and climbed higher into the forest, we stopped at different to hike along beautiful streams and the rushing Jemez Falls. This young Red-naped Sapsucker flew into a tree directly in front of me. Higher up still, we watched as Lewis's Woodpeckers caught insects during their sallies from a grove of burnt trees. red-naped sapsucker
Red-naped Sapsucker

TUESDAY, July 28, 2009

On Tuesday morning we entered the legendary Sangre de Cristo Mts. through Pecos Canyon and drove north to Terrero. At the country store we marveled to the sight of hundreds of Rufous, Broad-tailed, Anna's, and few Calliope Hummingbirds buzzing around and sipping from a dozen large hummingbird feeders. We drove up to the top of Elk 11,600, where fields of beautiful wildflowers mixed with shrubs held Orange-crowned Warblers and White-crowned Sparrows.

broad-tailed hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird

calliope hummingbird
Calliope Hummingbird

rufous hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird


WEDNESDAY, July 29, 2009

Early on Wednesday morning we drove up to the Santa Fe Ski Ski Basin. At over 10,000' we watched the Mountain Bluebirds, and then were surprised by two Evening Grosbeaks that came to feed on the lawn of the ski resort.

evening grosbeak
Evening Grosbeak

dusky grouse
Dusky Grouse
lake williams trail
Lake William's Trail, 10,500'
By lunch time we were at the Toas Ski Basin, where Suzanne and I started out on the two-mile trail to William's Lake. Suzanne made it all the way to the picturesque lake at 11,000', being greeted by inquisitive Gray Jays. I, on the other hand, made it only 1/2 mile of the way up the trail, but by lurking quietly in the lush forest I ran into a family of Dusky Grouse, and later spotted an American Dipper.

THURSDAY, July 20-22, 2009

On Thursday morning we drove west out of the Sangre de Cristos into the Wild Rivers Recreation Area. The canyon walls were alive with bird song, including Spotted Towhees and Rock Wrens.

spotted towhee
Spotted Towhee

rio grande
Suzanne & Adriana at the Rio Grande

After exploring the high country, Adriana, Suzanne, and I hiked the mile trail down the steep canyon to the Rio Grande River. The weather was hot, so the cold water of the river was really refreshing.

At the overlook over the confluence of the Red and Rio Grande Rivers, we were startled by this magnificent Bighorn Ram, who showed little fear, and then leaped over a high fence and disappeared down the canyon wall.

bighorn sheep
Bighorn Sheep

rock wren
Rock Wren

We spent two nights in a fancy log cabin just south of Angelfire. At 8500', it was cool during the day and brisk at night. The second afternoon we were there the girls braved the waters of Eagle Lake. Not long afterwards thundershowers provided a spectacular double rainbow over the Moreno Valley.
Double Rainbow, Adriana & Gaby

FRIDAY, July 31, 2009

On our last day in New Mexico we drove east through Cimarron Canyon out of the Sangre de Cristos. Once into the flat country we spotted lots of pronghorn antelope. By evening we were back in Flagstaff, and had dinner with Becky at the Beaver Street Grill.

adriana, gaby, becky
Gaby, Adriana, & Becky

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