On our late July road-trip vacation in New Mexico, we stopped in Santa Fe for a few nights. I visited the Santa Fe Ski Basin (and surrounding areas) one morning with a small group of 4 people through WingsWest birding tours (which I recommend).
Our first stop was a Santa Fe city park (can’t remember the name). We had many of the common birds, including many Black-billed Magpies, Western Scrub-Jays, and Black-headed Grosbeaks, as well as lifer Evening Grosbeaks and Mountain Chickadees. The grosbeaks were just flyovers, so the looks weren’t very satisfying, but I did pick up some of the field marks including the wing stripes.
We continued to another park, where we had very distant looks at Pinyon Jays calling, and very close looks at a family group of Virginia’s Warblers and the drabbest Yellow-rumped Warbler I have ever seen. The only field mark on that bird was white on the tail – the rest was pure gray.
After that, off we went to higher elevations on Santa Fe Ski Basin Rd. From Pinyon-Juniper, to Ponderosa pine, to Aspen. We didn’t go all the way to the top, however, so no Gray Jay, Pine Grosbeak and other extreme high altitude stuff. I think our high point was just below 9000 feet.
What we did see, however, were several new birds for me. Red-naped Sapsucker was almost too easy, responding to its call mere seconds after we started playing.
Townsend’s Solitaires also made an appearance, and we were able to study the spotting and scaling on the first year birds. Other notable birds were Western Tanager, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Pine Siskin and Black-throated Gray Warbler. We also stopped at a campground with perfect habitat for MacGillivray’s Warbler. In fact, they had bred there this year, and were seen two weeks ago. Luckily, a female responded to playback, and emerged from the dense thicket long enough for an identifiable look.
We also tried some places higher up, but no new birds appeared.