Light winds, clear blue skies, a chance to do some birding and get some exercise on our bikes. That’s a winning combination in my book. We got an early start this morning and were on the bikes riding the paved multi use trails that follow the Rio Grande.
Our first bird sighting was a Great Blue Heron. It seemed so out of place here in the high desert. This majestic bird wasn’t even on the water, we spotted it in the grassy area off the bank.
The multi use bike paths here in Las Cruces are a great away to not only see birds but to also see the more rural areas where the main crop we saw was pecans. I am fascinated by this farm crop and learned New Mexico is the second largest producer in the US. Of course, we had to buy some and got a big 15 lb bag when we were in Hatch the earlier this week.
These trees take a lot of water and the orchards are flooded every three weeks with up to four feet of water depending in the soil type. This flooding deeply waters the trees and is essentially the only way there trees can survive in the arid desert. It sure was an interesting sight the first time we saw a flooded orchard. Being from Oregon where the rain water is plentiful, we thought that the irrigation system had sprung a leak and this couldn’t be a good thing!
Back on the trail, we racked up an easy dozen bird species sightings and looped back to where we started. Our sightings included Great Blue Heron, Red Winged Blackbird, Great Tailed Grackel, Greater Roadrunner, Vermillion Flycatcher, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Gambel’s Quail, White-winged Dove, Rock Pidgeon, Common Raven, Killdeer, and possibility a Northern Harrier.
Unfortunately, I did not see any Burrowing Owls and suspect the time of day was wrong for them to be out.
The ride was not complete without a stop at The Bean in Old Mesilla for some coffee and a peanut butter, black berry and raspberry croissant. Another great day so far in Las Cruces.