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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At 11:14 AM, Blogger Sara said...

Wonderful pictures ! A chance encounter of the best sort, I imagine that Phoebe and Liam thought it was very cool. I hope you all had a great time in NM.

At 12:03 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Outstanding pictures of a super bird. When I visited Nevada in 1998, I was so hoping to see a roadrunner, but didn't. I've been fasinated by roadrunners ever since watching roadrunner/coyote cartoons as a kid. I came home with a stuffed roadrunner, as a consulation prize.

At 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great shots! What a surprise it must have been to have the roadrunner in your sight for such a while. You are one lucky guy.

At 8:32 PM, Blogger Mary said...

Bill - I just came over from JZ's blog and I must say you outdid her this time. You are right on the mark with awesome Roadrunner photos! Fantastic action shots. First I've seen of a Roadrunner, except, of course, in the cartoon.


Thanks for sharing your images of an odd bird I'll probably never see.

At 6:49 AM, Blogger Jayne said...

So cool!!! I can't even imagine just seeing these walking around so close by the roads. Wonderful images Bill!

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

its always cool when birds pose for the camera...great pictures!

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Mary C said...

Great shots of the roadrunner, Bill.

At 11:43 PM, Blogger AndrĂ©e said...

Oh my goodness what a beautiful creature! I don't even know how I came upon your blog: but it was a yellow box on my Reader page while I was editing feeds. I'm glad I found this gem of a blog.

At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't know exactly what we had in the back yard untill I saw your pictures. We are in Peoria Az.and the road runner we have that sits on our block wall is a "fat" one.We must have a bunch of slow lizzards if that is what they eat. I am hoping to get pictues of it.We are just facinated by the desert animals since we ae fro virginia

At 10:10 PM, Blogger Carter Combs said...

We had a similar experience several years ago on the way to Big Bens National Park. It was early in the morning and a roadrunner ran across the highway. I stopped the car and jumped out with my camera not believing that I would have a chance to get a picture but the roadrunner came back out on the highway and stopped. We got a picture before it ran off. When I tell people out our experience they roll their eyes like it is a UFO story. Carter


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