30 November 2009

East Meets West

Saturday, November 28, approximately 8:00 AM:

"I think I just heard a warbler chip."

"Sure it's not a Yellow-rumped?" Tyler Loomis, my birding friend from Tempe Arizona, started to look out the window.

"Not sure. Sounds a little different. There it is... it's the
Bay-breasted!"

There, moving through a tree not far away, was Arizona's 16th ever Bay-breasted Warbler. Luckily it had been sticking around and was easy to find. The cloudy sky made photographing hard but still allowed great views of the washed out rusty sides and greenish cap and wing bars. An instant classic.

I had always tried to imagine what a Bay-breasted Warbler would be like when I was younger. I heard birders talk about what an amazing bird it was, and always wanted to see one. I just never imagined how and where I'd finally catch up with this eastern bird. As we watched it forage in the same tree as an Arizona Woodpecker, I was awestruck by this stunning combo. I doubt I will ever see those two species at the same time again.

Tyler Loomis, his dad (hereafter Mr. Loomis) and I soon climbed back in the car. We had a long drive ahead of us for our next birding location of the day - Tumacacori. This spot along the Santa Cruz River has recently become popular for it's Rufous-backed Robins and Rose-throated Becard sightings. When we arrived along San Gertrudis Lane, however, all was quiet. Western Bluebirds and Northern Mockingbirds teased us among the bushes where the robin supposedly was, and a cold breeze rustled the yellow Cottonwood leaves. Seeing as the robins were a no-show, we headed down the creek looking for the Becard. Though we never found that bird either, Mr. Loomis spotted my second lifer of the day, a Varied Thrush!


Lifer Varied Thrush, Tumacacori, Arizona

The three of us then began to head north towards Phoenix once more. Ever watchful for good birds, we cut through Sweetwater Wetlands, seeing Lawrence's Goldfinches and hearing a Sora, and then headed to the Santa Cruz Flats. There, we were hit by an awesome sand storm, but still managed to get two Crested Caracaras and a Ferruginous Hawk.

Overall, it was a great day of birding in sunny Arizona.

23 November 2009

Update

Hi all,

Sorry I have been so terrible about putting up blog posts recently, but I have been extremely busy. I recently had some fairly major lung surgery on my left side to keep it from collapsing any more (three collapses this semester prompted this) and have been trying to catch up in school. Nevertheless, I have seen some good birds since my last post.

Over Halloween weekend, I went to the Louisiana Ornithological Society convention with Kevin Morgan in Cameron Parish. It was a great weekend, with Kevin and I finding/seeing some of the best birds of the weekend. At Peveto Woods, Kevin and I found an odd warbler that turned out to be a female Blackburnian (my first non-male of this species ever) and had a nice flyover by a Barn Owl. At the East Jetty, I spotted a group of three Long-billed Curlews down the beach and we had Semipalmated Sandpipers and Crested Caracaras hanging out around the viewing platform. Later on, we also co-found (along with James Maley and Jacob Saucier) the first ever Great Kiskadee for an LOS convention! Unfortunately, the 'best' bird of the weekend still has not been confirmed - an Alder Flycatcher that I heard and later photographed has still not been able to be confirmed through photos. Unfortunately, my being under the weather has postponed my posting of photos of this bird, but I will try to get on it soon.

The next day (Nov. 1), Kevin and I joined Jeff Harris and another gentleman whose name I forget at Lacassine. Out in a large raft of Lesser Scaup I spotted what I believe to have been a Greater, but the distance (and HUMIDITY!) prevented a positive ID. It was still nice to see all of the marsh birds though, and I got my state Virginia Rail and Sora in the long, unending swamp/prairie.

This past weekend I finally got out for the first time since my surgery. Though I got rained and flooded out, I still managed to get a new state bird - Dark-eyed Junco. A new campus bird was also had this week as I was talking to Andrea Robinsong on my cell phone and had a Great Horned Owl fly by.

Until next time, take care, and good birding!