An Accidental Birder's Journal

Upon discovering a rare species for New Mexico
in Gallinas River Park at Las Vegas, San Miguel Co.
31 July - 7 August 2015

They had not been seen enough in Las Vegas or the entire West to merit listing in area checklists for birds. They are not listed for this area on (I tried to include them in a report), nor on the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge (LVNWR) checklist of birds that have ever been seen on the refuge. And I am not a real birder, I am just a just a guy who likes to walk and notices and appreciates his natural environment, but sometimes I get a little caught up (Kathryn might say obsessed) with some newly discovered feature of that environment. That is what happened here.

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Fri, 31 July 2015
  In the last few days I have have had a glimpses in passing of largish birds, some brown, some grayish flying out of the river bottom and heading for the bosque down stream. Then yesterday on my way home I saw in the distance what might be a small brown heron standing on the river bank peering into the water. Therefore today I was ready with camera 'round my neck, scrutinizing the river banks, looking for my little brown heron(?). Approaching the first school footbridge I spied it on the opposite bank, a small brown, yellow streaked heron walking away from the rio. Click, Click, Click, three images immortalizing his/her being.

  I scan around for more. Bingo! A grayish one is in the water staring at me. Click, Click, Click, three more images while he leaves the water. Having lost the brown one in the grass, I cross the bridge to get another perspective. Click, Click, a couple more images of the gray one on the bank, one glaring red eye on me as he surveys his fishing territory."Enough of this!" says he and takes off down river. Shortly thereafter the brown one leaps into the air from the tall, camouflaging grass and follows.

Sun, 02 August 2015
  With a timeout for the 100 year anniversary Horse Parade and unsure of what I had seen two days ago, I was back at the river with my camera. I spy a gray one in the river, fishing, oblivious of me. I manage to take a few frames before a jogger spooks him and off it goes followed by another brown one. A short way down the river I photograph another or the same brown one, which was then spooked by the dog accompanying me.

  With all of my pictures, a couple of books and the Internet I have determined with difficulty that the birds are Yellow-crowned Night-herons. The difficulty is due to the fact that the birds are either juvenile (brown) or immature (gray) with incomplete adult plumage. Nowhere on the internet do I find pictures of the gray ones, with bodies of adults and with the head almost all black with yellowish patches here and there, no yellow crown with long white plumes, sub-adults.
  There have been three confirming sighting reported by birders on the internet. One aloft at Story Lake and two at Texico Marsh August 2 in Curry Co. I have named the different birds I have photographed: Br(own)1, Gr(ay)1, Gr2 and Br2.

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Peter Wait That's all for now,

this 30th of August, 2015