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On a chilly morning, Taos photographer/birder John Lay and I trailed along the edge of a string of ponds, each made possible by acequias and small irrigation ditches, which thread through the valley's vegas, our precious meadows and agricultural fields. Taos Mountain loomed, blanketed with new snow.

And then we spotted it, a snowy egret, as beautiful and white as the mountain's peak. The Spanish name is garceta nívea. Last time I saw one I was in Florida, though they do make an appearance from time to time at the Ohkay Owingeh lakes outside Española.

We watched the egret pick its way along the...

Local birders, from left, John Lay, Annie Robertson, Bob Draper, Isabella Draper, Robert Templeton, and Ann Bancroft.