Archive for the ‘Santa Fe’ Category

June 1: Last day!

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

I got up at 5 AM so I could go back to Santa Fe Canyon and see birds — hoping for a Pinyon Jay at least. No luck on that, but I did get a Juniper Titmouse. This brings me to 42 lifers on this trip, and I think that’s all. I did get some nice looks at various birds while hiking the canyon. Like this Broad-Tailed Hummingbird.

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

I got back to the house by 8:30 or so, had breakfast, and then we headed to Los Alamos to visit the Bradbury Museum. It was a small, but very interesting museum. Lots of cool stuff about the history of Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project, as well as about the various kinds of research now going on there.

Sobering to think that it’s the place where the world’s first nuclear bomb was made. Did they speed the end of WWII? Or just needlessly slaughter a lot of Japanese? Did nuclear weapons tamp down warfare in the last 70 years? Hard to know.

After lunch, we went back to Santa Fe. Robin and I had to go see Bear the silversmith so he could make a bail for this pendant she bought. Interesting place, Bear’s.

Bear the silversmith

Anyway, for 10 bucks he made a silver bail and Robin was happy. And we then met Hamner and Peggy at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. It’s a small museum also, but it has a very nice collection of works from her earliest around 1916 to ones as late as the 1970s. I especially liked her paintings of cottonwoods.

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

There was a short biographical film, which repeated her claim that her flower pictures were not intended to be erotic. I have to say that I find this improbable. I can understand that she didn’t want to be pigeonholed into that category, especially at the time, and I certainly would say that she’s not a one-dimensional artist. But looking at Series I: White-Blue Flower Shapes … well, you be the judge.

Series I: White-Blue Flower Shapes” (1919) - Georgia O'Keeffe

Finally, there were all her great work based on the scenery of Northern New Mexico, which pretty much sums up our vacation, now rapidly drawing to a close. We fly home tomorrow, so I’ll end with this:

Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

May 31, 2016: Audubon center, and some shopping

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

As planned, we headed for the Randall Davey Audubon Center this morning, timing it so we’d get there right when they open at 8 AM. We were actually five minutes late, but the gate was still locked anyway. A young woman showed up after a minute or two and unlocked it, and we headed up the nature trail. The place is full of hummingbirds, and we saw several of both common local species — Broad-tailed:

Brod-Tailed Hummingbird

And Black-chinned:

Black-Chinned Hummingbird

And though you wouldn’t know it from those pics, we did get to see both the purple collar on the Black-Chinned and the rose-red throat on a Broad-Tailed.

The nature trail leads up into a Bear Canyon, which has some water and some fir trees; as we climbed up, we heard a repeated Pee-ee! call from across the wash. I spotted a bird in pine tree, and it was clearly an Empidonax flycatcher. Now, which one? It had a yellow belly and very short wing primaries. I played the Cordilleran call and it flew right over, but this bird’s call didn’t match. After a little more testing, we all agreed that the call was clearly Dusky. And the very short primaries are a good field mark for Dusky anyway. Another lifer!

Randall Davey Audubon Center

After the nature trail, we talked to a woman in the visitor center, who recommended the Santa Fe Canyon trail. It’s actually on Nature Conservancy property, and it goes up one side of the Santa Fe river and back on the other. In the process it goes by a large pond that was once the reservoir for Santa Fe, as well as several beaver ponds. It was a nice hike, although we didn’t really see anything that noteworthy.

Santa Fe Canyon

After the hike we had lunch and rested a bit, then walked over to the Santa Fe Plaza and the Governor’s Mansion. At the latter, a whole row of artisans had set up blankets with stuff for sale – always Robin’s downfall.


We had a nice walk in the old city, and left much poorer. Tonight, tapas!

May 30, 2016: Dodging the crowds in Santa Fe

Monday, May 30th, 2016

We got in to Santa Fe last night, where we’re staying in a lovely 1920s era (Maybe; the question has prompted a big argument between Robin and Peggy) Pueblo style house (again, topic of some controversy) on Staab St. (pretty sure we all agree on this part). This morning I decided to forego birding and just go out for coffee and pastries for breakfast. Then I wandered around the yard a while, and Peggy asked what that bird was singing, and I allowed as how it was an Oregon Dark-Eyed Junco, but then Ebird said that was rare. And with some embarrassment, when I looked at my photo of it I realized it was a Spotted Towhee.

Spotted Towhee

After breakfast we agreed we should go to the Randall Davey Audubon Center, which is just over on the east side of town. But when we got there, it was closed for Memorial Day. We had never heard of an Audubon Center being closed for Memorial Day, so we decided instead of having two piles of garbage, it would be better to have one big pile of garbage, and then there were the 27 8X10 color glossy photos with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one…

Oops, wrong story. So anyway, we decided to drive out to Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, which looked pretty good based on the ebird records. What I didn’t realize was that it’s a group of small lakes in a dry, mostly featureless grassland. I think being there gives you a good idea what it was like on the Santa Fe trail. On the plus side, we only saw two other people and two more cars the entire time we were in the refuge.

We hiked to Gallinas Canyon and back.

Las Vegas NWR

And we used the scope to check out the lakes.

Las Vegas NWR

They had Mallards, Coots, Gadwall, Ruddy Ducks, and a couple of Avocets. Nothing too great. But I did get a lifer: Western Meadowlark, which was singing vociferously all over the place, and thus distinguishable from Eastern. Because damned if I can tell whether the malar stripe is yellow enough.

Western Meadowlark

Gallinas Canyon has some cool old stone ruins.

Las Vegas NWR

On the way back I almost stepped on this snake. Not sure what it is; thinking maybe Western Coachwhip, but I’d be open to suggestions from people who know stuff.

Western Coachwhip?

I could go on about the birds — we saw both Cassin’s and Western Kingbirds, for instance, but if you care you can go to the links.

When we got back to the house, Hamner and I decided we should go to the store and get food for dinner, caffeine-free diet Coke, and libations. Robin particularly was enamored of Santa Sidra’s Tad Sweet cider, which she had at Fire and Hops last night with dinner. So we drove to Albertson’s where we got bread and cheese and olives and such, and some local IPA, and no cider. So we were about to head back defeated, but I decided we should try a liquor store. Which we did. No luck. So we looked up the Santa Sidra cider brewery, and drove there. And the place wasn’t even there. So then we went to Susan’s Fine Wine and Liquors. I asked the woman there if they had local cider, and bingo! There it was. We bought a couple of bottles. She then proceeded to tell us that the owner is opening a cider brewery in Washington DC, and nobody wanted to take over his operation here, so when what they have is sold, that’s the last they’ll ever get.

Santa Sidra

So we are all drinking good stuff (Hamner and I opted for Cumbre Elevated IPA) and getting ready for dinner. Tomorrow, to the Randall Davey Audubon Center (I hope).