November 13, 2021
On Saturday, Nov. 13, we drove a few miles from our campground to Rio Grande Nature Center State Park in Albuquerque. It’s located on the west side of the city, along the Rio Grande River. More than 300 species of birds have been seen in the park, although only about 60 can be observed year-round. The Rio Grande starts in the San Juan mountains of southern Colorado and flows through the San Luis Valley before turning southward to roughly bisect the state of New Mexico. It splits the cities of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to begin the border between the United States and Mexico. The river is just under 1,900 miles long before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico, but only about 20 percent of the water that enters the river actually reaches the gulf because of irrigation, municipal usage, and storage in reservoirs.
In the arid regions of New Mexico, of course, the river is an invaluable resource for wildlife and human habitations alike. The Albuquerque area receives about 8 3/4 inches of precipitation annually, so the river plays a critical role in making an abundance of life possible. These photos were taken on Saturday perhaps two miles away (as the sandhill crane flies) from the stark desert environment of Petroglyph National Monument that we visited the previous weekend.
The visitor center at the state park has a couple of ponds that provide for really good waterfowl viewing. I saw many mallard ducks, Canada geese, and was pleasantly surprised to see my first-ever wood duck. The park has some easy walking trails (some allow dogs, and others do not in order to reduce pressure on wildlife) and is a great oasis in the city, with plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing (I also took some photos of a spotted towhee, but the pictures turned out to be a better representation of the tree limbs he was perched on rather than the bird itself).