I've seen and heard a few sandhill cranes recently, so I decided to load some color in my Sears/Ricoh TLS with the 400mm Tele Vivitar and headed down to the Valle de Oro seven miles south of central Albuquerque. There was not a bird in sight when I got to the old dairy farm that has recently become a National Wildlife Refuge. So, I left the tripod and the long lensed camera in the truck and headed down with my Pentax and a normal lens to the riverside bosque there which I had not visited before. It turns out to be a spectacular place, and I'm looking forward to getting back there again soon.
The Refuge is adjacent to the Rio Grande Valley State Park which is populated by a mature cottonwood forest. Most of the old giants were holding onto to their leaves still, but they are quickly turning to gold. The forest floor is covered by a thick carpet of newly fallen leaves as well as those from years past.
When I first spotted this skull in the leaf litter I thought it was a coyote because of the size. Looking closer, however, I saw that the two biggest teeth were right up front. Turning the skull right side up showed a flattened shape rather than the domed and ridged cranium that drives the coyote's massive biting capacity. So, my guess is that I had found a beaver.