2016-03-20 & 22 Rio Grande Nature Center

2016-03-20 and 22

Western Screech-Owl - Otus kennicottii

On Sundays there is a regularly scheduled nature walk at the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park and I joined the group on this day. Organized groups do not lend themselves to fruitful photography, but the educational value can be worthwhile. The Nature Center is situated along the Rio Grande River in the northwestern edge of Albuquerque on 270 acres of riparian woods that folks around here like to call a ‘bosque’. The Sunday walks tour areas not open to the public, past large ponds and open pastures. I met some very nice folks on the walk. It’s no surprise finding nature conscious people on such an outing.

There weren’t many surprise birds on this tour, but I met an Eastern Bluebird for the first time. First meetings are always worthwhile. After the formal tour I was invited to go look at owls. The organized walk covered about a mile, and now we would embark on a trek that would cover about four times that distance. First we walked north about a mile to look for a Western Screech Owl. We found the location where it hung out, but the bird did not show itself. Then we headed back south almost two miles to find a Great Horned Owl on a nest. This bird was clearly seen, though up quite high in a tree and sitting calmly on its brood. I stayed on scene there even after the rest of the group departed. I hoped the male might make an appearance, but he did not.

When I finished shooting, the lighting was no longer optimal, but I now knew where these birds were. I returned early the following Tuesday and loaded my camera gear on my bicycle and found more Eastern Bluebirds (with Western Bluebirds very near), but really wanted to find the Western Screech Owl. When I arrived on scene where the bird was reported, I made a little ‘hooting’ sound and up popped my subject. I spent about 20 minutes and got what I thought might be a decent set of images, then I headed back to the Nature Center Headquarters to try for better bluebird shots. Satisfied that I’d captured the bluebirds well enough, I packed up and headed back to camp.

Images from these days can be viewed below:

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