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2020-03-02 Aguirre Springs In The Organ Mountains

Bewick's Wren - Thryomanes bewickii
These wrens were the only birds that gave up their images satisfactorily on this day. Aguirre Springs Campground is nestled on the eastern slopes of the Organ Mountains to the east of Las Cruces New Mexico.

This morning my friend Jerry and I said our good-byes. Jerry headed back to his home in Albuquerque and I started preparations to leave Las Cruces behind and head south into Texas just 25 miles away. I made an appointment for Wednesday morning to get the RV generator fixed. It has developed a problem with starting this week.

Yesterday Jerry and I decided to spend the bulk of our day at Aguirre Springs, on the east side of the Organ Mountains. The view of these mountains from Las Cruces is impressive. The granite columns climb skyward and dominate the town’s eastern skyline. On Sunday Jerry and I visited briefly the reserve at Dripping Springs, a few minutes east of town, but neither of us took any pictures. The day was cold, windy and the cloud cover cast a blue filter on the mountains that didn’t inspire either of us to get out our cameras. That’s a decision I now regret.

It was barely a 40 minute drive (27 miles) from Jerry’s motel in Las Cruces to the Aguirre Springs Campground. Again, the day was windy, cloudy and cold. At nearly 9,000 feet, the mountain peaks are almost as impressive from the east as they are from the west. The granite spires appear more faceted from the east, as opposed to rounded sculptures on the west side. There were traces of ice and snow welded into the shadier crevices of these peaks. Given the latitude (32.34°N) and the elevation of the Rio Grande River (3860’) 16 miles to the west, it seemed to defy logic that snow could persist here. During our tour I spoke with a camper who informed me that the temperature dropped to 17°F a few nights earlier, and the wind blew in gusts of 75 mph. Those conditions will send most of us looking for shelter.

The only birds I could detect here were White-Winged Doves, (heard only), Scrub-Jays (Woodhouse’s), Dark-Eyed Juncos (Gray-Headed I believe), Red-Tailed Hawk and Bewick’s Wrens. Only the wrens provided us with good photo-ops. Down slope, on our drive back to town, I spotted a male Mountain Bluebird and a pair of Canyon Towhees. My attempts to capture their images were unsatisfying, and only sufficient to support identifications.

Despite our less-than-stellar bird encounters, both Jerry and I had a great day. The scenery and the company were exceptional.

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