Thursday, June 28, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
My pigeons are a breed known as Tipplers; they are endurance flyers, able to remain in the air for many hours. When released from the loft, the flock circles upward, sometimes reaching a height which nearly takes them out of sight. While the pigeons often fly in a circle which may be several miles across, the center remains over their home loft. A clear day with a slight breeze is the most conducive to high, long flights. When the wind blows strongly, the Tipplers will remain at low altitude, skimming close over the mesquite and creosote bush which surrounds our property at great speed. Perhaps they are afraid of being blown too far from home, and they usually will soon flutter back to the loft roof on such windy days.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Saturday, June 09, 2007
As we were getting ready to go into town on Thursday, I noticed a movement on the cliffs south of our house. Through the binoculars, it looked like a bird sitting in the shadows. I set up the spotting scope the next day and found the bird in the same place.
I had watched the same place for several weeks at the beginning of the Horned Owl nesting season in March. I never saw more than one adult when I visited the place, and I finally gave up, assuming that they had not nested there this year. Yesterday, two grown young flew out when I approached the site, while the mother sat nervously by. The male also showed up briefly, then he and the two babies flew off around the corner. The female just moved a little higher on the cliff face where she could keep an eye on me.
Friday, June 08, 2007
On Wednesday I drove ten miles east of Hatch to the site of an old mine at the base of the mountains. I climbed to the top of the high ridge above the mine with the wind seeming to get stronger with each step. By the time I reached the ridge crest, the air was a river-like torrent moving at close to 50 mph. Going over to the east side of the ridge got me out of the worst of the wind.
I don't recall seeing so many flowering agave before. I think they take ten or twelve years to mature; the plant flowers just once, and then dies. As soon as the pink buds begin to appear on the twelve-foot flower stalk, the agave leaves begin to shrivel and lose color. By the time the fruits have matured, the plant will be brittle and brown.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Some flowers from the falcon's aerie: Datura, Sunflower, and ???
Thanks to Katherine Blackett we now know that the pink flowers are Penstemon ambiguus, also known as Sand Penstemon or Moth Penstemon. The mystery now is why we didn't notice such a showy flowering plant before since it seems to grow everywhere in New Mexico.
I found a family of Prairie Falcons at one of my favorite spots about a mile from the Rio Grande yesterday. It is the first I have come across in our immediate vicinity in twenty years. I first heard the female calling as she flew along parallel to the canyon rim I was walking along; it seemed clear she was defending a nest site. I made my way down to the sandy arroyo below and retrieved the binoculars. It didn't take long to find the nest hole in the cliff, and there were three big babies lined up at the entrance.
I went back the next morning with more camera gear, including a couple telephotos and the digital camera. No sign of birds in the hole, though the mother falcon was still actively defending the site. I spent some time photographing flowers and then decided to walk up close to the nest site to see if I could get some pictures of the adult female. She got incresingly loud, though she mostly sat on rock outcrops close to the site. A pair of mockingbirds and a kestrel came along to give the falcon a hard time.
When I got to the talus slope at the base of the cliff, I found the single young one there, probably a female judging by the size. She was nearly full-grown, but still had a lot of down and probably could have used another week at least in the nest. My guess would be that the young falcons were flushed out of the nest site the previous night by an owl.