We’ve completed our first month at Bosque del Apache NWR. It’s getting cooler and this helps suppress the mosquitos. More birds are arriving, either passing through or planning to spend the winter. Last month we saw 4 or 5 white-faced ibis…..two days ago, we saw dozens. And Arlyne got a good photo as the ibis were settling in for the night at the boardwalk pond. Birds are starting to congregate in larger flocks, including American avocets, white pelicans, various sandpipers and yellow-headed blackbirds. We have to wait until October for snow geese, Ross’s geese and the jewel of the Bosque, sandhill cranes. Recently we picked up a life bird on the refuge – Baird’s sandpiper.
We met a man on the boardwalk and were talking birdlife when Arlyne spotted the raccoon. The guy owns a restaurant in Socorro. As we promised, we went to his restaurant a few days later and chatted with him. He has great food and gave us a 25% discount.
A Close Call. Just a few days ago, we finished our day at the visitor’s center and were walking back to the motorhome. We cross a hundred yards of open, gravel-lined space. We were half-way across when I heard a bird “chittering”. I thought “what bird is that?” A beat goes by and Arlyne says “Oh my God!” Walking to Arlyne’s right, I had stepped within a foot of a western diamond-back rattlesnake that had blended in with the gravel (I wasn’t watching). The snake was coiled but at least he warned me. It was a good thing I kept walking instead of stopping to look for the “bird”. The snake started slithering across the lot again and…….I shot a video of “my” snake. (I’m not going to show it here in deference to a dear friend that can’t do snakes)
A Trip to Santa Fe. We drove to Santa Fe to see our friends Karol and Jerry and attend the famous Indian Market. This was the 93rd running of an international Native American event that draws thousands of visitors from around the world. The entire downtown area of Santa Fe is blocked off, with hundreds of small booths for Native Americans displaying and selling their creations. I remember representatives from Chippewa, Apache, Hopi, Navajo, Comanche, and Zuni tribes but there were over 1000 tribes there from the US and Canada. The artist in the Comanche booth was named Quanah Parker Burgess. Not all of you will know the name Quanah Parker. He is the most famous Comanche in history. He was a ferocious fighter who fought the U.S. Army in the 1800’s for years. Quanah Parker’s mother was Cynthia Ann Parker, a girl who was kidnapped in 1836 at age 9 and assimilated into the Comanche tribe. It appears that Quanah’s name is still used and revered today. Much of his life is detailed in the book Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne, a book I highly recommend.
We walked all over Santa Fe and were overwhelmed by the art we saw. Silver, turquoise, pottery, stone, feathers, and wool. We talked to a Navajo lady from Arizona who made the “best of show” rug. It was on sale for $110,000. It was beautiful piece of work. Thanks so much to Karol and Jerry Ryan for hosting us at their beautiful Santa Fe home. Nice meals in Santa Fe and at Karol and Jerry’s house.
Working on the Refuge. Since Arlyne and I passed the Defensive Driving Course, I now take a Government vehicle every day to get the mail in the little town north of the refuge. Last week I started taking a Fish and Wildlife truck (and some tools) out on the refuge to trim vegetation from the viewing decks and walkways in preparation for the Crane Festival. With the daytime heat, I can only do this for about 3 hours or so. As visitors begin to arrive over the next month, I’ll be a “rover” and drive around the refuge to help the public to find and identify wildlife and follow the rules, of course. Arlyne will do some of this as well.
Canyon Hike. I hiked the Canyon Trail with another volunteer who is an expert botanist and a very good birder. This was the first Saturday hike he plans to do for the next few months and I was his only guest. This hike goes up a gentle slope into a beautiful canyon where we saw the birds and the bees, literally. We spotted a peregrine falcon flowing through the canyon and later a barn owl that flew just over our heads. It was amazing to see a number of bee hives built in crevices right in the canyon walls. The rain we’ve had in August has caused a burst of wildflowers throughout the Refuge and all along the trails.
Thanks again for following us around,