|Burrowing Owls, check the hole.|
We drove through the fire damaged mountains (2011 fire) toward Roswell, New Mexico. We saw Burrowing Owls along the road to Bottomless Lakes State Park. Many ducks were in the sulfur spring ponds on the long road in. We found a campsite then walked around the 90 foot deep spring that produces 5 million gallons of water per day.
|Bottomless Lakes Spring|
|Four-striped Leaftail, endangered|
We spent the next day on the auto wildlife tour at Bitter Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Although most birds use this area as a wintering area, we did find Am. Avocets, White-faced Ibis, Teal and Mexican Ducks, a lone Am. White Pelican and several Snowy Plovers. We returned to nearby Bottomless Lakes and even went for a swim in the spring.
We left early and drove the country roads through Dexter flushing many Scaled Quail. We headed south to Carlsbad and took an RV site for 3 nights at Whites City near the entrance road to Carlsbad Caverns.
We drove the 7 miles up Walnut Canyon to the Visitors Center, purchased tickets for a tour the next day then walked the self guided tour of the "Big Room". This huge area is 8 acres of beautiful formations 750 feet underground.
We stayed for the bat program at sundown. The stone amphitheater is just above the natural cave entrance. At dusk hundreds of Cave Swallows entered the cave and 500,000 Mexican Free-tail Bats emerged in groups of hundreds for over an hour. They flew southeast to the river valley far below. No photography was allowed as the bats flew out.
We birded slowly up Walnut Canyon early the next morning finding many more birds in the relative cool of the canyon. We did the cave tour of the "King's Palace" and again were awed by the amazing underground cave creations.
|Millipede - 7 inches long (Texas sized)|
By afternoon, the temperature measured 115 degrees while we were parked in the sun. In spite of the heat, it did go down to 105, we took a short ride east of Whites City and found 6 Lesser Nighthawks perched on the power lines, plus some Scissor-tailed Flycatchers
|Greater Roadrunner scolds the photographer|
|Sunset at Carlsbad Caverns|
On Sunday, we drove north to Carlsbad and went to Oasis Fellowship Church, a very friendly congregation and uplifting message. We grabbed lunch at the China Buffet and stocked up on groceries for the journey ahead. We decided to watch the Bats again - this time from the top of the parking lot. It's so amazing seeing the huge numbers and wondering how they could ever find enough food. They eat half their body weight each night.
|Black-chinned Sparrow - young|
Rattlesnake Springs was our first destination next morning and we found many turkeys with young, Vermillion Flycatchers and Yellow-breasted Chats.
We drove to Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas and dry camped one night. We did find a bird we had been looking for - 6 weeks at least - the Black-chinned Sparrow.
|Rainbow Grasshopper - AKA Painted, Barbershop, Pictured|
|Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake|
This is El Capitan in the Guadalupe Mountains, the range is the highest place in Texas, over 8,700 feet.
We drove southwest entering the Central Time Zone and took a site at the Davis Mountains State Park for a week. The park has 2 great bird feeding areas where we observed 40+ species of birds.
|Canyon Tree Frog|
|Horse Lubber grasshopper|
|Barbary Sheep or Aoudad - Skyline Dr. Davis Mts. State Park|
We took several day trips to parts of the Davis Mountains including the Aguja Canyon, Balmorhea Lake and State Park, Lawrence E. Wood Picnic Grounds and Madera Canyon. We are now in Alpine for a couple days before heading south to Big Bend National Park.
Love & Prayers,
Ty & Ida Baumann