1. David Canyon – August 2022
Thursday Birders hiked down into David Canyon from the Mars Court Trailhead in the Manzanitas at the end of August 2022. We found 22 species including Clark’s Nutcrackers, several Wilson’s Warblers and a couple of Black-throated Gray Warblers. We were too late for the Violet-Green Swallows that nest in dead tree trunks in the canyon but we enjoyed this very special place and did not get too muddy despite the heavy rains that had preceded our visit.
Walking along the base of David Canyon. We missed the Violet-Green Swallows but did spot a Western Wood Pewee here.
We investigated the pond at the base of the trail from Mars Court. We didn’t find anything in or around the pond, but did spot six Wilson’s Warblers in the low growing bushes nearby.
2. Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area – September 2022
In late September 2022, Thursday Birders visited one of our favorite out of town sites, Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area. This is a location we have visited many times over the years, and which we support through our weekly donations.
We had some trepidation about our visit due to the Big Hole Fire, the biggest bosque fire on record that charred more than 75 percent of the preserve in April 2022. We were pleasantly surprised as Laura McCann, Environmental Education Program Manager, Valencia Soil & Water Conservation District, and her staff showed us around the trails. The groundcover looked young and healthy with many re-growing plants, ripening fields of sunflowers covered in Lesser Goldfinches, and a wide selection of grasses that provide habitat and food for birds, butterflies, and many insects. We were saddened to see cottonwoods that had burned and died in the fire, at least a dozen of which, Laura told us, were over a hundred years old.
During our walk around the trails, we saw 21 species of birds, including a Belted Kingfisher and a Savannah Sparrow. After our walk, Laura gave us a short lecture and introduced us to two birds that she cares for in her role as Director of New Mexico Raptors. We thoroughly enjoyed her talk and watching the massive and majestic Turkey Vulture that has been in her care for ten years due to a permanently damaged wing, as well as a Great-horned Owl that was involved in a car accident, had a head trauma, and now only has one working eye. What amazing work Laura does! This was a lovely trip and we hope to repeat it again in 2023.
Gathering at the beginning of our walk to learn more about what has been happening at Whitfield over the past year.
A sad sight: one of the oldest Cottonwoods destroyed by the Big Hole Fire.
A happier sight: a cottonwood that survived the fire.
Laura introduced us to a very calm and beautiful Turkey Vulture.
The Great Horned Owl rescued from the side of the road with a head trauma and damaged eye, which is now safe due to Raptor Rescue.