On our second day in Albuquerque, there had been light rain during the night, continuing into the morning, and reports of snow and high winds up at Sandia Crest. We therefore decided to begin our day at Rio Grande Nature Center. There were reports on the Internet that a Harris's Sparrow had been present there for the past three days.
As we entered the parking lot, we delighted in the beauty of a Cottonwood in all its fall glory.
At the pond next to the parking lot, there was a mixed assembly of dabbling ducks, mostly Mallards. Among them, a beautiful male Gadwall.
A single Western Grebe with firery red eyes stood out in the center of the pond.
A lone Pied-billed Grebe looked tiny in comparison.
A pair of Hooded Mergansers appeared briefly, and I was lucky to catch them before they swam out of sight.
Our next stop was at the feeders on the way to the interpretive center. White-crowned Sparrows were abundant.
In the past it was unusual for us to see more than one or two White-throated Sparrows here, but this morning we saw at least six adults.
They had bright golden lores.
We were amazed to see that huge numbers of White-winged Doves were mobbing the feeders. We led bird hikes there, and White-wings were absent until just before we moved to Florida in 2004.
A White-breasted Nuthatch joined Red-winged Blackbirds at the feeder.
This Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco wears evidence of the efficiency of the RGNC banding team.
The golden Cottonwood leaves provided a beautiful background a Downy Woodpecker which, uncharacteristically lacks black markings on its outer tail feathers.
An unusual find was this Townsend's Solitaire, which usually does not stray so far from the Sandia foothills.
We then watched the pond adjacent to the interpretive center, where we found several pairs of brightly-colored Wood Ducks. These two dominated the feeder.
Here is another beautiful male.
The rain let up, and Mary Lou and I birded the area and searched for the Harris's Sparrow until the interpretive center opened at 10:00 AM. Unfortunately, no one had left a record of exactly where the sparrow had been seen, and we were unsuccessful in our quest.