Archives For Wildlife and Natural History

Photographs and stories of the wildlife and natural history of the Southwest.

Spring is springing along the Rio Grande. The wintering bald eagles must have heard the predictions for an early Spring, because they up and left in the first half of March. The other winter residents – the golden-eye ducks – left shortly thereafter. The mallards and Canada geese appear to have become non-migratory year-round residents. Mergansers are now showing up, and I spotted a pied-billed grebe that I have not seen here before. I heard a peep behind me, and turned to see the bird swimming between myself and the shore. A day later, while standing on the shoreline, an otter popped up 30 feet away and went back under immediately, but we (myself and friend John Lopez) saw the otter swim across the river not far downstream. Yesterday I saw the first golden eagle, having seen a prairie falcon circling around the cliffs earlier. There is a fairly tame pair of western bluebirds now hanging out at the Rio Bravo CG in Orilla Verde, along with a downy woodpecker and other songbirds. I believe the bluebirds will soon continue to the north. Two days ago I saw the arrival of the first broad-tailed hummingbird, which caused me to run into the house and ready the feeders. Today a black-chinned hummingbird showed up at the feeders. Other songbirds now around are dark-eyed juncos, white-crowned sparrows, Say’s phoebes, yellow-rumped warblers,  canyon towhees, and I expect some grosbeaks and western tanagers soon:

Western bluebird
Western bluebird
Yellow-rumped warbler
Yellow-rumped warbler
Yellow-rumped warbler
Yellow-rumped warbler
Yellow-rumped warbler
Yellow-rumped warbler
Sparrow - what kind?
House Finch
Sparrow - what kind?
House Finch

 

Black-chinned hummingbird
Black-chinned hummingbird
Dark-eyed junco
Dark-eyed junco
White-crowned sparrow
White-crowned sparrow
White-crowned sparrow
White-crowned sparrow

The water temp in the Rio Grande is now around 55 degrees, and mayflies and caddis flies are showing up – but not yet in sufficient numbers to constitute a “hatch” that brings trout to the surface, to feed in wild abandon. So, while I await such an event, I’ve had to resort to fishing nymphs. I’ve caught a few brown trout on a large, heavily-weighted olive Double-hackle peacock. Here’s a couple of those fish:

Hefty brown trout
Hefty brown trout

 

Brown trout
Brown trout

Otherwise, we start rafting on the 18th!!

We have a single Forsythia bush at our place, right besides the gate. It’s begun blooming, signaling the start of Spring. Our rafting season starts April 19.

Forsythia

Forsythia

 

Spring time rafting with New Wave on the Rio Grande brings you closer to Nature and all it’s beauty. This year we were blessed with several families of Mallard Ducks. They are the most abundant and widespread of all water fowl and can be found in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa. They were also introduced to Australia and New Zealand. They prefer wetland ecosystems, though they can live in ponds and other artificial aquatic environments. Five to fourteen green or gray buff eggs (called a “clutch”) are laid in a down-lined nest, usually built on the ground, sometimes far from water. Incubation ranges from 26 to 30 days and is carried out by the female. They dabble in shallow freshwater for vegetation, insects, mollusks, and crustaceans.
The following images are of females and families. (click on image to enlarge)
Ducks_1233
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The hatches continue. These fish were caught on dry flies.

RainbowTroutMay302012_2078

BrownTrout2012_2054

Our rafting guests are framed by wild roses, in this nice shot by Britt Runyon.

Wild Roses of the Rio Grande River
New Wave rafting guests pose next to a display of wild roses

According to the fishing author John Gierach, when the fishing is slow and people wonder about how good the river is, the old timers invariably respond: “They’re in there”. That seems to happen a lot with the Rio Grande, which is considered, hereabouts, a very fickle river. There are times when the river is “dead”, meaning that you’re getting no action whatsoever, and you wonder what’s going on.

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