Subsequently, on the first morning, it didn't take long for me to spot my first lifer. Two Lesser Nighthawks were flying along the gravel road I was on. They perched in the tree, and I nabbed a few photos - the first nightjar species I've photographed!
|Lesser Nighthawks in the lower desert.|
The drive down to the Rio Grande was nice, but the birding really picked up at the Cottonwood Campground along the banks of the river. Stunning Vermillion Flycatchers were seemingly everywhere, as were Golden-fronted Woodpeckers. Inca Doves were also preposterously abundant around the cottonwood trees. The lifers were coming easier than I had anticipated.
|My first-ever Inca Dove, in all its tiny, scaly glory.|
We headed over to the eastern side of the park to look for more birds. The best sighting there was of a Common Black Hawk in the campground, an ABA lifer (though not a year bird - I saw a few in Tortuguero back in March). There were even more Vermillion Flycatchers over there, and one was cooperative enough for a photo. Painted Buntings were common in the campground as well. Higher up in the desert I saw a drab female Varied Bunting - not the brighly-colored male I was hoping for, but still a cool bird. Black-throated Sparrows, one of the more attractive sparrows in the US, were abundant among the desert scrub.
|Common Black Hawk, one of only a few breeding birds in North America|