New Mexico Shorebirds, and Birds of the Shore

It’s a long drive from Roswell to Tucson, but the excitement of having watched the chickens dance got us through. Besides that, there was much to see along the way, and we would probably still be in New Mexico had we taken every promising road and looked for every species that occurred to us as we drove along (“Hm, wonder if there are Boreal Owls in there….”).

My favorite of the brief stops we made on the drive west was the alkali flat at Holloman refuge, just east of Alamogordo. I’ll have to check my notes, but it seems to me that that was the very spot where Ted showed me my first Snowy Plovers years and years ago; and they were there yesterday, too, or at least their descendants, five pairs or more out on the shimmering expanse.

A dozen Western Sandpipers were out in the middle, looking hot and bothered, and a surprise Baird’s Sandpiper was a good find, too; this far west, Baird’s are much commoner in the fall (which, for Arctic-nesting shorebirds, starts in about 3 months).

Technically not a shorebird, this little guy was on the shore of a wetland near Roswell; Burrowing Owls don’t need the water, but the disturbance associated with steep banks is of obvious advantage to them.