Williamson's Sapsucker


Kevin Zimmer
 

Bill Rucci and I headed out to Carrizo Plains late this morning to look for the Williamson's Sapsucker reported from yesterday by Peter Gaede. After a little bit of searching, we found the bird pretty much where Peter described it, on the west side of the Carrisa Plains school property, in the tallest cottonwoods at the south end of the school parking lot and buildings. It was interesting to me that the bird basically stayed in the cottonwoods, given their strong association with conifers in their breeding range. Whenever I found migrants or wintering birds in New Mexico, they were almost always in pinyon-juniper habitats, never in cottonwoods.

Anyway, the bird was present between 1130 h and 1430 h. Other than giving several subdued "chirrrs" it was decidedly non-vocal, even when repeatedly chasing off a Nuttall's Woodpecker. It was a difficult bird to photograph (I got several decent documentary shots, but nothing that will win any prizes) -- light was horrible, the cottonwoods have an amazing number of twiggy little branches that get in the way, the bird likes to stay out of sight on the back side of limbs and just peek at you every now and then, and, of course, we had to stay on the highway side of the fence, which was pretty limiting for photography. But, it is readily observed from outside the fence.

A great bird, and thanks to Peter for finding and posting it.

We also had a male Ring-necked Duck on the ranch house pond along Hwy. 58 between Bitterwater and the school. Didn't spend much time looking for raptors, but we did see 3 Golden Eagles, 3 Ferruginous Hawks, 1 Prairie Falcon and 1 Merlin. Amazing to me how much more traffic there is out there now with the solar plants up and running.

Kevin Zimmer
Atascadero

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