on the Rosy-Finches of Sandia Crest, New Mexico. The flag is waving– smaller flocks of Rosy-Finches are still visiting
the feeders at Sandia Crest House. Feeders to remain up until the end of March if bears don’t start appearing. Banding operations have been discontinued.
A fairly strong cold front blew through yesterday afternoon, and after a
flurry of showers it cleared up and cooled down rapidly. Strong winds
from the north continued all night, and this morning the temperature
was in the 50s. The front continued over the Florida Straits to the
north coast of Cuba, and the Key West radar showed no migration all
This morning it was barely light when I noticed a splash on the lake. When my eyes focused on the
disturbance, about 100 yards out, I noted unusual silhouettes. The
scope confirmed my bino view. There were 5 Red-breasted Mergansers out
there, making them the 62nd species I have seen on our property since
we moved to South Florida in 2004. Not too shabby. It beats the 48
species I counted in our suburban Dallas yard, but will not match the
120 species as I logged in our New Mexico back yard (link to my list
and “bird calendar” in the pane to the left of this page).
Having gotten off to such a roaring start, I set out to see if I might attain my RDA (BirdChaser’s Recommended Daily Bird Allowance of 20 species) for the day. On our
chilly morning walk through our subdivision to the market, I ticked off
the usual exotics (no complaints please): Rock Pigeon, Muscovy Duck,
Monk Parakeet, European Starling… and a usually reclusive Mute Swan.
Then came the other easy ones: both grackles, Blue Jay, shrike, Palm
Warbler, both vultures, Eurasian Collared-dove, Mourning and
White-winged Doves. Ring-billed Gulls congregated on the roof of the
supermarket, (but the Least Terns and nighthawks have not yet arrived),
a Killdeer cried in the distance, White Ibises and Double-crested
Cormorants flew about in good numbers, a Cattle Egret hunted in the
shrubs along Miramar Parkway, and three white herons (Snowy and Great
Egrets as well as an immature Little Blue Heron) and a Tricolored
completed the long-legged spectrum. I almost missed the furtive Green
Heron, but easily heard the Red-bellied Woodpecker, hidden in the Royal
Palms. Luckily, among several small groups of crows, there were two
distinct sets of vocalizations: Fish Crow and American Crow, a rather
stunning total of 29 birds before 10:00 AM, and all (except the
merganser) without binoculars! Despite missing an Anhinga and the
Mottled Ducks that are usually in evidence, I exceeded my RDA by almost
Lo and behold, the mergansers were back again this afternoon, working their way just offshore, taking turns diving and often coming right up to the edge of the water in pursuit of fish. A Snowy Egret and a Tricolored Heron were following them along on the shore, very closely, and making repeated darts at fish that were probably being herded towards the shore. They probably had just passed right alongside our patio, but when I first saw them they were quickly moving out of camera range.[Now, I know you will not believe this, but…]
Only a couple of hours after I posted the above, just as I was sitting down to supper, I looked out and saw the mergansers again. This time they were moving clockwise along the lake margin, and heading right towards me! I ran for the camera, and they were moving so fast that by the time I had them in view they were already heading away.
This time, only a Tricolored Heron accompanied them. It darted here and there as the mergansers stirred up the fish
This enlarged image apparently depicts either a female or a male in non-breeding plumage (help please?)
One female stopped to flap her wings.
The mergansers’ manner of foraging was interesting. While paddling along at breakneck speed, they kept their eyes underwater.
Now they are all racing along with their heads under water.
It took them less than a half hour to complete their circuit of the lake. I was ready for them to pass by again in the fading light, but they suddenly rose up in flight, nearly passing over our property.
A bit dark, but this was the parting shot.
Our Illinois Granddaughters had a lot of fun for Easter, coloring eggs for an egg hunt in their neighborhood. Their paternal grandparents were visiting from Connecticut, and we felt a bit jealous. Do you blame us?Cari and Graci with Agramonte, now almost 4 months old.
Graci and Cari dyeing eggs.
Los Abuelos (the children call them “Bilito y Bilita.”