Embudito Canyon

Embudito Canyon

So I drove out to Embudito Canyon, over on the east side of Albuquerque, in the dark, relying on Google Girl to find my way. Eventually I wound up in a high-priced suburb in the foothills, and a residential street that ended at a pair of locked gates. The signs declared it to be Embudito Canyon, but also that it opened at 7 AM. So I parked on the street, hoping not to get towed, and walked in.

It was still too dark to see birds, but I could hear them everywhere. It’s so frustrating to be in a new place, looking for new birds, and to be able to hear them a20ll around you but not identify them. I knew that any local birder would be racking up a substantial list just standing there. But I just sat on a curb in the parking lot and wondered what they all were. I’ve been listening to calls from Stokes Western Birds, but I don’t know many well enough to identify by sound. Still, pretty soon I realized that one of them had to be a thrasher. And when I played back the Curve-Billed Thrasher call on my phone, it was a good match.

Now I just needed to wait for it to get lighter. I walked a little way out on the trail, until it was obvious that the bird was very nearby somewhere. Finally, after maybe 20 minutes or so, I realized that it was perched right on top of a bush in front of me — and it was indeed a CBTH. It turned out later that they were quite bold, and one that had a nest in a cholla cactus just sat on top of the plant and sang at me while I took pictures.

Curve-Billed Thrasher

My first lifer of the trip!

All told, in about 2 1/2 hours I had 9 lifers there:

Scaled Quail
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Gray Flycatcher
Bushtit
Cactus Wren
Curve-billed Thrasher
Black-chinned Sparrow
Black-throated Sparrow
Canyon Towhee

I’d say the Gray Flycatcher was the one I was proudest of. I sat on a rock in the trail, and by this time there were occasional runners and dog-walkers going by. But in a quiet moment, I saw some movement in a nearby thicket of bushes. It was clearly an Empidonax flycatcher, and though I played calls, it wouldn’t sing back. I was about to give it up as Empid sp. when I remembered to check Sibley – and sure enough, there was only one likely Empid here that would be pumping its tail like a phoebe. So, Gray Flycatcher.

I had promised to get back by 9, so I power-walked back to the parking lot, having gone about a half-mile into the hills. Time for breakfast (huevos rancheros, of course) and then the Rio Grande Nature Center.

One Response to “Embudito Canyon”

  1. Shirley Crow Stephens says:

    Allen, this is an interesting format. I like it, a great way to blog. Thanks.

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