My wife and I are planning a visit to Sandia Crest to see the Rosy Finches for Feb. 8-11, 2014. We are planning on staying in Albuquerque and driving up the mtn. Any suggestions or recommendations? Looks like some of each species are being seen. Any other birding areas in the area for this time of year?
Other readers of this FORUM may have additional suggestion for you.
Plan time for a first-day visit to Sandia Crest just in case the weather changes so you can get up again. Also, you will be better acclimated to the altitude the next day.
On your way up to Sandia Crest stop at Doc Long Picnic Area, where you can bird the area of the parking lot-- look for Townsend's Solitaire, Pygmy Nuthatch and if lucky, Red Crossbills and Cassin's Finches. Most of the picnic areas are closed for the winter, but pull over (off the roadway) at the entrances if they are clear and look/listen for finches and Pine Grosbeak. At the base of the ski area there are sometimes Clark's Nutcrackers looking for a handout up on the hill to the left (south).
Places I like to visit when my time is limited and I want to stay in immediate area:
Rio Grande Nature Center State Park-- good place for birds and local info
Embudo Canyon in the foothills of the Sandias -- parking lot at the trailhead, located at the east end of Indian School Road NE.
Embudito Canyon in the foothills of the Sandias-- the trailhead parking lot. To reach the canyon drive east on Montgomery past Tramway, then turn left on Glenwood Hills. Continue 0.4 miles before turning right on Trailhead Road.
Manzano/Four Hills Open Space -- trailhead at the end of Stagecoach Road on the east side of the Four Hills Community. To reach the area drive one block east of Tramway on Central, turn south on Four Hills Drive, then proceed east and south on Stagecoach until it ends at the Open Space.
Check eBird for bar charts of the above hotspots-- for example, eBird Bar Chart of species expected in the foothills east of Albuquerque (Embudito and Embudo Canyons):