While looking through pictures from last month, I just realized that while I was busy snapping pictures of this Belted Kingfisher, I neglected to notice there was someone else in the frame, too:
(Looks to me like a Cooper’s Hawk, but feel free to correct me if you think otherwise….)
…And here’s the updated White Nose Syndrome map from today:
I just received this map from Paul McKenzie and Jonathan Reichard at the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Reichard mentioned that a new map may be coming out soon. (Just to emphasize: There are no reported incidences in New Mexico.) To see the archived maps, visit: http://whitenosesyndrome.org/resources/map
I love the Rio Grande’s bosque. And I especially love spotting porcupines up in the trees. Here are a few blurry shots from a canoe trip last Saturday in the Middle Rio Grande. (These guys were hanging out on the west side of the Rio Grande, north of Alameda. The only reason I spotted them was because the raptor in the tree caught my eye. Oh, and I blame my porcupine obsession entirely upon Dan Shaw, a writer and teacher at Albuquerque’s Bosque School who let me tag along with his students a year or two ago.)
I’ve spent the past two afternoons mucking around along the Rio Grande as it runs through Corrales. Seeing as how this is a terribly dry year–even more dry than last–I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that the water isn’t even flowing along the right side of one of the islands in the river near the north end of Corrales.
I realize the vantage points aren’t the the same, and the dates aren’t exactly one year apart. But check out the photos of this same side channel. The first is from March 11, 2013 and the second is from yesterday, March 27, 2013:
Over the weekend, I spent time walking along the Rio Grande and some of the ditches in the valley. I wasn’t reporting, but just kind of wandering and chatting with people–about the river and about irrigation season. During three casual conversations, people informed me that Texas was taking New Mexico’s water. One of those folks blamed the river’s low flows on Texas; two irrigators working on their turnouts in Corrales said Texas was going to take all their water anyway.
Those three conversations, plus a few others, made me realize just how little people understand about the water they use. Many don’t seem to understand where it comes from, where it goes, who has what sorts of rights to it, and how the natural and political systems work.
Honestly, I wish this coming spring and summer were going to be a lot less interesting.
At any rate, here’s a piece I wrote for UNM School of Law’s Utton Center on the Texas v. New Mexico complaint Texas has filed in the US Supreme Court with respect to the waters of the Rio Grande. I learned a lot while researching the story over the past couple of weeks–and I learned that it’s a helluva lot more complicated than “Texas versus New Mexico.”
Check it out and please pass it along to someone you know–who might need a hand understanding the issue:
I can’t post it on Twitter because the photo is larger than the 3.0 MB limit. But can someone tell me what this thing is? It’s tied to a jetty jack:
After checking out the Rio Grande in Albuquerque yesterday (and since I’m visiting another location on Monday for a reporting trip), I figured I’d swing by the Alameda Bridge today.
For comparison’s sake, here’s the view from the Alameda Bridge in early September, 2012, when I was reporting on the Rio Grande being so low that the City of Albuquerque had to stop drawing water from the river for its Drinking Water Project*:
Here was the view this morning, Sunday, March 3, 2013:
And here is the USGS graph, just in case you don’t believe your eyes:
The river is low, yes. That worries me, true. But I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that the Rio Grande, as it flows through Albuquerque, is some sort of lifeless, worthless stretch of river. In the hour I spent walking north of the Alameda Bridge today, I saw crows, ducks, great-tailed grackles, Canada geese, sandhill cranes, killdeer, and a heron. I also saw and heard tons of songbirds (which I’m not good at identifying; sorry) and came across coyote scat, beaver slides, and the tracks of raccoons and other small mammals. It’s a damn fine place, that bosque.
*The city’s move to stop drawing water from the river has to do with low flows, but also with timing. During certain times of the year, water users (including the city) have to ensure there is a base flow of 100 cfs through Albuquerque for the endangered silvery minnow.
Trapped between the pull of a terminally ill elder family member and a flu-sick child, I escaped for two hours yesterday to the Rio Grande. I needed the March sun and the croak of sandhill cranes. And I really needed to walk on sandy trails through prickly weeds and push through the wall of tamarisk and Russian Olive and seek the waters of the Rio Grande. I could have chosen to walk along the ditches and canals–the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District started ramping up irrigation season last week–but honestly, I’m a fan of the river itself.
Saturday afternoon, I went to one of my favorite spots in Albuquerque–that stretch of the Rio Grande between Paseo del Norte and the Montano Bridge. It’s a spot that last October (Oct. 28, 2012), was this distressingly low:
(That picture accompanied this KUNM story: http://kunm.org/post/rio-grande-could-join-ghost-rivers-southwest)
Here’s that same stretch in November, after irrigation season had ended (looking across to the other bank, rather than upstream):
Here’s the (Instagram) view upstream in November:
This was the scene yesterday, March 2, 2013:
Water was flowing on the left side of the island, so here’s the view about 1/4 mile downstream:
Here are the USGS numbers for the river’s flows at the Alameda Bridge, and then downstream in Albuquerque:
Get ready for one hell of a year, folks.