March 14-18, 2022
New Mexico, our home state, is a wonderful state to explore, and this little 5 day Escapito lived up to expectations. Over 650 miles round-trip, from central NM south and then east, we visited 3 new-to-us state parks, and revisited one of our favorite Bureau of Land Management campgrounds. Our main objective was to find migrating birds; those coming north from south of the border to breed in the US, and those that overwintered along the Rio Grande River corridor and are heading way north to Canada and Alaska. We found some beautiful birds while exploring some very rugged country to within 12 miles of the Mexican border.
With my travel journal in hand, I was able to capture a few pages of images and notes from the week.
Heading south along I-25, we followed the Rio Grande River corridor for about 200 miles until we arrived at Percha Dam State Park. The park itself was somewhat run down, but the view of the Sierra Caballo Mountains was a beautifully stark contrast to the cottonwood gallery along the river corridor. Not quite spring yet, the trees were still bare, except for the healthy and overwhelming population of yellow-leaved mistletoe. We searched day and night for the elusive rufous-backed robin, but he was nowhere to be found. To our extreme delight, we enjoyed the courtship dance of several gorgeous phainopeplas. What a treat!
Out next short 90 mile hop southwest brought us to Rockhound State Park/Spring Canyon State Park. Wow! Spectacular scenery both to the north and south of the campground. We spent the day hiking the trails within the Rockhound unit, and found many interesting birds. One very special sighting, right in our campsite, was a pair of pyrrhuloxia! Related to the northern cardinal, they were courting and may have been scouting a nesting spot. There was a pair of cactus wrens building a grassy nest ball in a spiny cholla, and a pair of white-winged doves mating in the tree yucca next to the wren nest, also in our camp site!
Rockhound SP also includes Spring Canyon SP, located south of the campground in the dramatically rugged Florida Mountains, 12 miles north of the Mexico border. We spent the next morning hiking Lover’s Leap Trail, a short hike but very steep and rocky. The effort was worth it because the views were incredible all the way up, and from the top at the Leap.
After the big hike into the Florida Mountains, we moved on to one of our favorite campgrounds at the base of the eastern flank of the Organ Mountains; Aguirre Springs. Always spectacular. scenery, and a lovely campground with two very nice hiking trails. Then the following day, we drove about 200 miles to find Bottomless Lakes State Park. We walked the wetlands trail, climbed around the very sharp calcium formations surrounding the sink lakes, and listened to hundreds of sandhill cranes preparing for their morning flight from the Pecos River. It was a very frosty morning following a rainstorm the night before. at least we didn’t get snow!