Monday, November 19, 2007

Running into a Roadrunner

On the way down I-25 southbound to Socorro from Albuquerque, there are some large impoundments off to the east that give a visiting birder his/her first taste of what's to come farther south, at Bosque del Apache NWR. At these impoundments, there are usually several dozen sandhill cranes there as well as a nice mix of waterfowl--northern shovelers, northern pintails, gadwall, mallards, and a few coots. Harriers course low over the cornfields. Chihuahuan raven and American crows are black spots on the always blue sky.

We usually pull over and glass the ponds from the highway which is neither safe nor satisfying. But this year, with a little extra time on our hands, we decided to head off the highway to try to get closer to the action. Once of I-25, we immediately missed the hard left turn onto the frontage road, so we continued east to see what we could see. While turning around in a dusty patch of gravel we saw a roadrunner, largest of our North American cuckoos, moving through the brush.

I LOVE roadrunners. They seem to be part bird, part dinosaur, and part snake. Like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland roadrunners always seem to have somewhere else they've gotta be, right now. They rarely linger for a bird watchers to get a binocular full of them.

Roadrunners can also be fairly shy. But unlike most other roadrunners I've ever encountered, this one came toward us.

We grabbed our cameras and here's what happened.


Running out of the brush. Not sure it sees us yet.

The roadrunner stops to survey the scene. It clearly sees the humans in the funny hats with large, shiny tubes making clicking noises. And oohing and ahhing.


It decides it's OK and starts to walk methodically past the front of our car.


Stopping again to ensure we blow maximum megapixels on its back-lit beauty.

Time to scoot. And no, it did not go BEEPBEEP!


And then it was gone. Off to snag, smash, and gobble some poor, too-slow lizard.

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