Fall Along the Rio Grande, 2017

Fall colors, bighorn sheep, brown trout and beautiful days! All photos were taken in September, October and November of this year.

It is the riverside cottonwoods that provide most of the color at this time of year. The Spanish word “bosque” means riverside grove of trees.

The Bosque stretch

The Bosque stretch

The Bosque stretch

The Bosque is a “float” stretch, which passes by our riverside headquarters. In 2018, we will be offering a 3-mile long dinner float that will end at our cottonwood-shaded barbecue and dining area, beside a tranquil stretch of the Rio Grande.

At our landing – the destination of our Bosque float. Kathy Miller, NWR Pres., is seen in a funyak.

Lone Juniper CG, in the Orilla Verde stretch of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument

Rio Bravo CG, in the Orilla Verde stretch

For the first time in memory, a large group of bighorn sheep spent a number of weeks along the river, road and campgrounds in the Orilla Verde stretch. As can be seen, they did not at all mind the close approach of people and slowly moving cars.

Bighorn sheep ram, Orilla Verde

Bighorn sheep ewe, Orilla Verde

Bighorn sheep lamb, Orilla Verde

The lower and clearer waters of this time of year makes for good trout fishing. My favorite fish is the self-sustaining brown trout, which, although originally brought over from Europe, is not now stocked.

Brown Trout, Orilla Verde

Brown trout, caught on an outlandish-looking grasshopper imitation, Orilla Verde

NWR raft and fishing guide Todd Emerson, Orilla Verde

NWR raft and fishing guide Todd Emerson and his drift boat, Orilla Verde

Fall is over when the wintering bald eagles and diving ducks return (which include goldeneyes, buffleheads, ring-necked ducks and mergansers). Other waterfowl seen are the year-round mallards, Canada geese (some of which are year-round) and an occasional gadwall.

Bald eagle, along the Racecourse stretch

Goldeneye ducks, along the Orilla Verde stretch

First Taos Box trip of 2015

First Taos Box trip of 2015! Today, March 21, was Kathy’s birthday (Kathy Miller, Pres. of NWR ), and she wanted to run the Box. What a great idea! The forecast was for a high in the mid-60s and clear. This is the earliest we have ever run the Box, thanks to global warming. We were joined by NWR staff Britt, CJ, Joe, Adrien and trainee Michele. Britt and I were in an oar boat, and the others in a paddle boat. The river was running 1400 cfs, and the trip went off without a hitch, taking just a little over 3 hours. We had the river to ourselves, except for some wildlife, which included a group of bighorn sheep, canada geese, mergansers, green-winged teal, a redtail hawk, canyon wrens and a muskrat that dived under our boat. Mayflies were out, but it was still too early for the migratory songbirds.

The put-in, at John Dunn Bridge

The put-in, at John Dunn Bridge

Sculpted and polished basalt boulder

Sculpted and polished basalt boulder

Sculpted and polished basalt boulder, side view

Sculpted and polished basalt boulder, side view

The Rio Grande Gorge High Bridge

The Rio Grande Gorge High Bridge

Yellow Bank Rapid

Yellow Bank Rapid

60 Mile/Hr Rapid

60 Mile/Hr Rapid

The tight squeeze at the entry to Dead Car Rapid

The tight squeeze at the entry to Dead Car Rapid

Watch out for the big rock, in Dead Car Rapid

Watch out for the big rock, in Dead Car Rapid

The steep drop into Powerline Falls

The steep drop into Powerline Falls

Sharkfin Rock, in the Rock Garden Rapid

Sharkfin Rock, in the Rock Garden Rapid

Buzzsaw Rapid

Buzzsaw Rapid

Ugly Rock

Ugly Rock

 Screaming Left Turn Rapid

Screaming Left Turn Rapid

Mitch's Bitch rock in the Boulder Field section.

Mitch’s Bitch rock in the Boulder Field section.

Screaming Right Turn Rapid

Screaming Right Turn Rapid

Screaming Right Turn Rapid

Screaming Right Turn Rapid

 Sculpted basalt rock

Sculpted basalt rock

Taos Creek enters the Rio Grande at Taos Junction Rapid

Taos Creek enters the Rio Grande at Taos Junction Rapid

Rio Grande Spring 2014

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 along the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Western bluebird

Yellow-rumped warbler, along the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Yellow-rumped warbler

House Finch, along the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

House Finch

Dark-eyed junco, along the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Dark-eyed junco

White-crowned sparrow, along the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

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, from  the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Hefty brown trout

 

Brown trout, from  the Rio Grande river, near Taos, NM

Brown trout

Otherwise, we start rafting on the 18th!!