- Click on the photos to view larger versions and watch as a slideshow
A windy afternoon and evening back in the Atascosa Highlands and Pajarito Wilderness, including a return to the slightly frazzled Peña Blanca Canyon.
Peña Blanca Canyon:
This was my first visit since ‘La Sierra’ fire burned parts of the canyon. I posted photos of the damage to the canyon here . I was delighted not only to see the fairly limited damage, but also to find many of my old friends still present.
We found WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE, PACIFIC-SLOPE, DUSKY-CAPPED, and BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS, BRIDLED TITMOUSE, BUSHTIT, LUCY’S WARBLER, PAINTED REDSTART, HEPATIC TANAGER, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, VARIED BUNTING, and HOODED ORIOLE, despite the high winds and afternoon lull.
We also heard an ELEGANT TROGON calling, which was extremely gratifying.
We stopped to see BOTTERI’S SPARROW near the Calabasas Campground. We also encountered both adult and 1st year GRAY HAWKS along the roadside, as well as GREATER ROADRUNNER, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, and BLUE GROSBEAK.
We saw two snakes on the road, the first being an EASTERN PATCH-NOSED SNAKE.
More exciting, we found another BROWN VINESNAKE, my second this week.
Here’s another game of ‘spot the vinesnake’!
We stopped in at the parking area to look for ‘Azure’ Eastern Bluebirds, but couldn’t find them in the stiff breeze.
Confluence of California Gulch & Warsaw Canyon:
We arrived late afternoon but the wind continued to blow. We heard FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW a couple of times and I saw one in flight, but we never had a satisfactory look. We also found WHITE-THROATED SWIFT, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, SUMMER TANAGER, and HOODED ORIOLE.
A male BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJAR began calling at dusk, but soon stopped and we didn’t hear him again. Several other birders that had joined our search gave up and left for the night. Unluckily for them, soon after I found a female nightjar perched up, and we were able to get great views. We also heard an ELF OWL calling.
On the way back we saw GREAT HORNED OWL and ANTELOPE JACKRABBIT, and stopped to try to find WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL, which we heard but couldn’t get to show, presumably because of the continuing winds. We also heard several COMMON POORWILLS.