New Mexico - Autumn 2010
Images were prepared using screen settings of 1024x768, and are
best viewed with those settings. As usual, the title of the photo can be seen by placing the cursor over the photo.
Plant life in these
mountains adapts to the climate. Spring and early summer are
usually bone dry. Then in July come the monsoon rains up from the
Gulf of Mexico. By late summer and autumn, the soil at last has
moisture. Then we have a fine wildflower show: Mexican Hat, Indian Blanket,
fleabanes, and later, great swathes of these asters along the roadsides.
Their deep blue color is complemented by countless yellow composites,
including the lemon yellow flowers of chamisa, a ubiquitous small
Red flowers like Ipomopsis and Penstemon also bloom
in late summer, just in time to feed hummingbirds that are migrating south.
Among the most faithful of
my backyard birds is Steller's Jay. In summer, 2 or 3 always came
by for a bird seed breakfast. With autumn here, they seem to be
gathering into small flocks. Now I get up to half a dozen. Last November
I had twice that many. Nothing captures the mood
of our cabin retreat more than their harsh shaak,
shaack call, and the sight of one gliding through the pines down to
The oaks had a good year - there's now plenty of mast.
From the deck, I photographed this jay collecting a Gambel oak acorn.
Such fare will have to sustain them through the winter when I'm not
here to put out bird seed.
21 Sept 2010
Back home in Oklahoma, the little Downy Woodpecker
is quite common, while its larger relative, Hairy Woodpecker, is seldom seen. Here at the cabin it is the opposite. I
occasionally do see the Downy, along with both Red-naped and
Williamson's Sapsucker. But the Hairy is our constant companion.
If one isn't at a feeder, it's clinging to a suet cake that I suspended
from the feeder to keep it from the rodents. This woodpecker even
comes to sugar water. It is the one visitor that those pugnacious Rufous Hummingbirds cannot intimidate.
3 October 2010
Our other constant winged companion is White-breasted Nuthatch.
When I look out the bedroom window first thing in the morning, I usually
see a jay or this nuthatch.
Once upon a time I despaired of ever getting a shot of this
nimble, ever-so-fidgety bird. But the trick seems to be to find a place
where one can can spend
an hour or so every day at the task. I've managed a number of
5 October 2010
Autumn means golden aspen! From our back deck, we can see a few
stands on a distant ridge. But to really enjoy the show, we must
actually leave the cabin and wander the mountains. This morning
Charlotte and I had a buffet brunch at the High Country Restaurant in
Chama. Then we drove Highway 17 north toward Cumbres Pass, just across
the border in Colorado. This forest road below the pass was
typical of the autumn scenery here.
12 October 2010
Our summer juncos here were all the Rocky Mountain race,
'Gray-headed Junco.' With autumn come the migrant juncos, two other races
that apparently breed north and west of here; then, move into New Mexico as
winter approaches. We now have in addition to the Gray-headed race, the
'Pink-sided Junco,' and 'Oregon Junco,' which posed for me on a rock near the
14 October 2010
Against a background of Gambel Oak leaves in autumn
splendor, I photographed this male Evening Grosbeak. Small flocks
of grosbeaks have attended the seed feeders since April.
Unfortunately, the birds of summer and early fall were molting or were
juveniles. All were so scruffy that a photo would hardly do
justice. Only now does this handsome bird have its winter plumage.