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.

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