Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Along the Middle Rio Grande

After spending two days in the Gila country of southwestern New Mexico, I returned to the Middle Rio Grande, south of Albuquerque, where I have been studying birds, trees, and arthropods for the last six years.

As usual, I stayed with my artist/herpetologist/river guide-friend Geoff at his eclectic residence known as "Herp Tech".

At night we played darts on his very interesting board.

On Thursday, I visited several sites, including this small fire that burned last year.

As I had expected, several cottonwood seedlings sprouted in an area of the burn that had flooded last summer. I hope to use this observation in a paper I have been working on dealing with post-fire cottonwood reproduction.

I also checked in on older burns, like the one above with snags still standing against the clouds.

This burn has been colonized by invasive saltcedar, which often replaces cottonwoods and other native species

I stopped at a wildfire refuge headquarters to photograph some Black-chinned Hummingbirds, probably the most abundant bird species along the Middle Rio Grande. I used the above photo to paint a watercolor I put in the sidebar.

On Friday, I woke early for some birding at sunrise, met with some friends in Albuquerque, then flew back to Oregon. It's nice to be home, but I look forward to my next trip to the Southwest, whenever that may be.

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