Nov. Species Seen
Journal - November, 2007
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This log is in chronological order and the most recent entries
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The last update was on Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Thursday, November 1, 2007
I just had an hour to do a little birding this morning (before dropping off my vehicle for service) so I chose to check a convenient location -- the fishing ponds in lower Garden Canyon. Amazingly, I picked up a new species for my Huachuca Mountain list -- several fly-by CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPURS (not a species that I really expected to see here).
Less common species at the ponds (at the edge of the oak zone) were RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, 3 WESTERN BLUEBIRDS, HERMIT THRUSH and HUTTON'S VIREO. Of course, all of these birds are seasonally quite common further up canyon.
Other species included an adult male COOPER'S HAWK, ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD, 3 lingering CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS (normally gone from here by mid November); a calling CRISSAL THRASHER and a small flock of PINE SISKINS. Surprisingly, sparrows were hard to come by in the excellent sparrow habitat around the ponds.44 species recorded:
Friday, November 2, 2007
This morning I headed up Carr Canyon to test my vehicle. If there's a loose connection somewhere, the chances are good that it will show up on this road! I was happy to find the problem that I had seems to be fixed. Of course, I didn't waste this fantastic weather day and stayed in the canyon for five hours.
For the second day in a row, I ended up seeing a new species for the Huachucas -- and it was a weird one! Around 10:30am as I was approaching Reef on my way back from Ramsey Vista, I spotted a distant speck in the sky. The bird seemed fairly big and I was hoping for a Golden Eagle. As it came closer, I could see some white on the tail and my hopes were still high. However, when the bird banked I saw lots of rufous on the upper side of the wings. Now what. I couldn't reconcile what I was seeing with the location. Nevertheless, fact is often stranger than fiction and I was able to get a documentary image of a juvenile HARRIS'S HAWK slowly working its way south along the eastern flank of the Huachucas. A bird of arid desert and lowland valleys seen at 7500 feet. I'm sure that it's far from unprecedented (birds have to get from A to B) but it was certainly a shock to the system for this observer.
Earlier, I'd birded by way slowly from Reef overlook to Ramsey Vista with plenty of stops. Adding to the reports from all over Arizona, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH was as least as common as anything else and I saw 6-10 of them at every stop. RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET and SPOTTED TOWHEE were the only other species that came close to being as numerous. Species typical of the area (open on one side, pines on the other) included EASTERN BLUEBIRD, WESTERN SCRUB-JAY (I surprised the bird and it looked at me with a somewhat puzzled expression); and OLIVE WARBLER. I also noted a migrant HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER.
At the top of Comfort Spring trail I noticed a fruiting Madrone tree and decided to hang out to see what might stop by. After a while I heard the high pitched "seeping" calls of waxwings and eventually I was able to get an image of a juvenile CEDAR WAXWING caught in the act of taking a berry. Note that this individual doesn't have a crest yet. I saw about 6-10 birds, mostly streaked juveniles. They would nab the fruit and then retire to the nearby pines to eat (perhaps because I was too close). In the same pines I counted 6 CASSIN'S FINCHES and a couple of RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS.
Reef campground wasn't as productive as last Friday but I still encountered plenty of activity. Among the species here were HERMIT THRUSH, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES (almost abundant!), STELLER'S JAY, a few HUTTON'S VIREOS, a small flock of PINE SISKINS, several OLIVE WARBLERS, 2 HEPATIC TANAGERS, DARK-EYED JUNCO (Oregon, Pink-sided and Gray-headed) and YELLOW-EYED JUNCO.44 species recorded:
Sunday, November 4, 2007
This morning I joined the regular Sunday morning outing at Sierra Vista EOP. The weather continues just about ideal -- mostly sunny (a few high, thin clouds) and zero wind. The temperature ranged from 53 - 81 degrees between 7:30-10:30am.
The birding was slow and steady with nothing out of the ordinary seen. A small flock of 7 SNOW GEESE were perhaps the best birds and most folks in the group did not see them. I first heard then saw them shortly after I arrived at 7:30am at which time they flew off to the south. When I later checked my records, I discovered that this was my earliest sighting at the EOP (previously 11/19/97).
Raptors put on a decent show with several NORTHERN HARRIERS and a pair of AMERICAN KESTRELS being the most conspicuous. Also present were RED-TAILED & COOPER'S HAWKS, PEREGRINE FALCON (nailed an AMERICAN WIGEON in mid air but dropped the bird) and MERLIN. The Merlin was first spotted on a berm some distance away and eventually I was able to get close enough to get a marginal image -- far from great because of distance but more than adequate to confirm my identification at the time of a juvenile male columbarius. I determined the age and sex based on tail band color and mostly the developing gray color on the back which was much more evident in life than in the image. The breast was heavily streaked but you can't see that in the image.
Ducks were plentiful with PINTAIL and SHOVELER being fairly common. The numbers of GADWALL have increased significantly. A large flock of RING-NECKED DUCKS contained at least one male LESSER SCAUP. Three REDHEADS (one male) represented the least common location species.
The only shorebirds noted were 2 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS and one each WILSON'S SNIPE and LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (the latter two seen only in flight).
The sparrow showing was quite poor with few individuals seen. BREWER'S, VESPER and SAVANNAH SPARROWS were the most numerous. Even YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS seemed to have less of a presence than normal.
Perhaps the same ROCK WREN has returned for another winter (present in the same location since 2004). A bird was also present during the winters of 1995 through 1999.51 species recorded at Sierra Vista EOP:
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
I spent an interesting few hours in Garden Canyon this morning, mostly at the Fishing Ponds with a quick look at the lower picnic area. The morning began a little chilly and cloudy but soon warmed to a pleasant temperature.
Birding at the Fishing Ponds was quite productive (40 species) with SWAMP SPARROW being far and away the best bird. At the time I thought it was my first Swamp Sparrow in the Huachucas so I wanted to document the bird. I first saw the bird very briefly at 7:30am (at the east end of the small pond) then checked the same spot again at 9:00am to try for a photo. As it turns out, I saw one last October (also at the Fishing Ponds). Given that the bird was always on the move, the light wasn't in my favor and there was lots of vegetation to deal with (what else is new), I was very pleased with the result. I'm calling the bird a first winter individual (note the brownish and buffy tones on the face, not grey). When I initially found the bird I thought that I saw some diffuse streaking on the breast but that is not evident in the image (although the angle is not good for that). However, it's certainly possible that two birds were present.
The water level on the main Gravel Pit pond is dropping steadily and there's now some decent muddy shoreline exposed. The only shorebird that I could find today was a single WILSON'S SNIPE. Waterfowl were limited to a singletons of PIED-BILLED GREBE, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, a few NORTHERN SHOVELERS and the usual COOTS and MALLARDS.
Three very active CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS were noteworthy towards the end of their stay. Although my average last sighting date in Garden Canyon is October 26, I have several November records with the latest being November 28. Dave Beaudette also saw a Western Kingbird that I was unable to relocate. I was bummed about that because I only have two November records in SE AZ (barely -- both were on November 1).
Also of note were a couple of CASSIN'S FINCHES and 30+ PINE SISKINS.
Other stuff included ROADRUNNER, RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, CRISSAL THRASHER in the same place as my last visit (same place as the Swamp Sparrow); SPOTTED TOWHEE, 20+ SAVANNAH SPARROWS and 6+ WESTERN MEADOWLARKS.
A walk on the interior trail from the lower to middle picnic area (through Oaks, Junipers and a few fruiting Madrones) was not very productive. Highlight here was a single PAINTED REDSTART. One or two regularly winter in this area.56 species recorded:
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
This morning I visited Sulphur Springs Valley, something that tends to be at least a weekly event from late Fall through early Spring. I began with a check of the fields bounded by Davis Road and Central Highway then worked my way south on Coffman Road to Whitewater Draw. Although it was mild in Sierra Vista when I left (50 degrees), the day began quite cool in the valley then warmed considerably under mostly cloudy skies.
I made an effort get to the south end of the valley in time for the SANDHILL CRANE show and was rewarded with thousand after thousand of them streaming north from Whitewater Draw. What a magnificent spectacle of sight and sound, well worth the price of admission (getting up early). I was on site 15 minutes before the sun rose over the mountains and the show was mostly over 10 minutes after sun up. My location was Davis Road about 1/2m west of Central and this is where I started my birding.
It's always puzzled me why Mountain Plovers show up on the Santa Cruz flats much earlier than they do in Sulphur Springs Valley (my earliest sighting in the valley is November 25). Even if it were a month earlier it would still be significantly later than Santa Cruz flats. It's not a fluke so there's a solid reason for it that escapes me (perhaps it's because the birds are coming from different breeding locations). Anyway, I wondered if it was a self fulfilling prophecy -- I expect them late so I don't start looking until late. This year I wanted to make sure this wasn't the case and I spent the first hour checking the various fields along Davis and Central.
Even KILLDEER were in short supply and every one that I checked remained a Killdeer. Tons of Cranes were feeding in the fields and I also saw at least 12 FERRUGINOUS HAWKS for my trouble so it wasn't a complete bust. Also present were flocks of HORNED LARKS and AMERICAN PIPITS, EASTERN & WESTERN MEADOWLARKS and the only flock of LARK BUNTINGS that I saw all morning (surprisingly absent elsewhere).
Coffman Road was a little quieter than usual but I did get great looks at CRISSAL THRASHER and SCALED QUAIL.
At Whitewater Draw, I checked the barn when I arrived and found the regular GREAT HORNED OWL staring back at me. Several hours later the parking area was full of vehicles and students from Cochise College but the owl was still sitting there unperturbed.
The wildlife area seemed a little less productive than usual but I did get distracted from taking my normal route and ended up missing some ducks, geese and shorebirds. As I was getting started, Dave Beaudette (who I'd seen earlier while watching the cranes) called my attention to a juvenile CRESTED CARACARA wandering around in the scrubby habitat. Thanks Dave! The bird was fairly cooperative but I couldn't quite get as close as I would have liked. This was only my second sighting in Cochise County -- the other was also in November on the San Pedro. It's interesting to note that although a bird was at Whitewater last year, it's obviously not the same individual. Caracaras seem to be expanding their range in southeastern Arizona.
By the time that I started checking the water, heat shimmer was a problem so I'm sure that I missed lots of birds. The only "white geese" that I saw were decoys set up by a hunter who was waiting to blast the shit out of the real thing. I hope that he went home disappointed.
Stuff that I did see included 10 EARED GREBES, 4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, 2 BUFFLEHEADS, a smattering of common duck species with PINTAIL being the most common, a couple of COOPER'S HAWKS, perhaps as many as 100 SANDHILL CRANES that had "stayed at home", 2 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, 8 LEAST SANDPIPERS, 6 BARN OWLS (missed Long-eared), a couple of VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, 20+ lingering TREE SWALLOWS, a few fly-by CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPURS, all the regular sparrows and a SWAMP SPARROW for the second day in a row.
As was leaving, this BENDIRE'S THRASHER was perched up near the headquarters building (they breed in this spot every year). While I was photographing the Bendire's, a CRISSAL THRASHER was calling away just a few feet from my location. Of course, when I turned to work on the Crissal it was nowhere to be seen or heard!66 species recorded (61 at Whitewater Draw):
Thursday, November 8, 2007
This morning I hiked the trail in upper Miller Canyon. Do I hear a "why on earth do that"? Well, if the Eared Quetzal currently present in Madera Canyon hangs around, I'll probably be making two working trips for that bird next week. The bird is on a steep trail and is a good hike so I figured I need a little conditioning, especially since I haven't done much hiking in Scheelite Canyon recently. Miller is probably the steepest trail (also rocky) on the eastern side of the Huachucas (and because of this it's seriously underbirded). Apart from special birds from time to time such as Eared Quetzal (my own last sighting was in Miller in December, 1999); Aztec Thrush and Flame-colored Tanager, there isn't a compelling reason to invest the time and effort in this hike (from a birding standpoint).
I hiked just beyond the Baumkirchner ore processing site, a distance of 2.5+ miles from the parking lot with an elevation gain of 2000 feet. As a point of reference for those hardy souls who have made the hike for Flame-colored Tanager near the old mine shaft, that location is about 1.3 miles from the parking lot with an elevation gain less than 1000 feet. The 5 mile round trip took 6 hours. Cool and comfortable on the way up, too warm coming back.
Eared Quetzals could be measured using a nice round number. Fruiting Madrone trees were much in evidence in the lower canyon but the upper canyon had comparatively few (although several in the upper canyon were heavy with fruit). Birds in general were in short supply. I had to be content with some spectacular views looking back down canyon to the San Pedro Valley far below; and some excellent fall colors, especially maples. I find it interesting that individual maples in view at the same time can vary from bright green (without any hint of change), to yellow to deep red.
Birds? Okay. The highlight species for me was GOLDEN CROWNED-KINGLET. I saw a few mixed in with the abundant RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES. After 15 years of birding in the Huachucas, I now have a whopping 5 records -- 3 from the winter of 1998/1999, one in December 2005 and now today. Definitely a rarity!
I came across two NORTHERN (MOUNTAIN) PYGMY-OWLS about a mile apart. Both provided excellent views but photographically it was a different story. The second bird was low enough that I had a fighting chance but I simply could not maneuver into a favorable light position and get an unobstructed view. The bird was super tolerant as I stumbled around crunching leaves and snapping twigs. When I finally settled on a compromise position (standing behind a tree to shield the sun), I was amazed that the bird was still sitting there, staring down at me. I'm sure that I heard it say "who is this dork" as I reaped some reward for my efforts. This image (not bad under the circumstances) was the best from 40 attempts.
In addition to the common dicky birds expected in the canyon, I came across 2 RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS, a few CASSIN'S FINCHES, 10+ RED CROSSBILLS and a single TOWNSEND'S WARBLER (the only warbler species that I saw or heard).
DARK-EYED JUNCOS of three flavors were common (Gray-headed, Pink-sided and Oregon) but I inexplicably missed Yellow-eyed Junco.30 species recorded in Miller Canyon (italics in residential section):
Friday, November 9, 2007
This morning I visited the San Pedro RNCA (highway 90 area). After birding around the San Pedro House for 30 minutes, I headed south down Del Valle Road, then west along Garden Wash for about 1.25 miles; returning east down the wash to Black Phoebe Pond, north along the river to Kingfisher Pond; then continued north along the river and back west to the San Pedro House. I covered about 5 miles but it was a much easier 5 miles than yesterday! Conditions were calm and very pleasant under high, thin clouds.
Factoid: I probably saw over 100 LESSER GOLDFINCHES in small groups in multiple locations. All were females.
The general area of the San Pedro House was quite birdy despite the presence of a COOPER'S HAWK trying to stay inconspicuous in a mesquite thicket. WHITE-WINGED DOVES and PYRRHULOXIAS were numerous. I noted 20 species here.
In stark contrast, I saw very few birds along the Del Valle Road. Other than WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (common throughout), sparrows in general were hard to come by. I saw a few BLACK-THROATED SPARROWS, just one BREWER'S SPARROW (amazing!) and missed Vesper.
Along the western section of Garden Wash, I wanted to check specifically for ROCK WREN (2 seen and heard) and RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW (several present). Based on my records for this area, I'm fairly certain that the wren just winters here but I suspect that the sparrow is an uncommon breeder (perhaps just one or two pairs). Note: this section of Garden Wash (west of Del Valle) is not shown very well on the maps in either of the birdfinding guides.
The area is a good place for CRISSAL THRASHER and I found a couple of them. Another month and they should start singing. Also in the wash were GREATER ROADRUNNER, VERDIN, BLACK-THROATED SPARROW and GREEN-TAILED, CANYON and ABERT'S TOWHEES (common everywhere today).
Apart from Rock Wren and Rufous-crowned Sparrow, a couple of AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES in east Garden Wash represented the least common species that I saw. At Black Phoebe Pond, a single PINK-SIDED JUNCO rivaled the Goldfinches for least common status.
At Kingfisher Pond, I was hoping to detect that Green Kingfisher had returned for another late fall-early winter stay but GREEN HERON was the only "Green" bird. Shortly after shooting this image, I watched the heron catch and eat a large dragonfly. Kingfishers were represented by a BELTED KINGFISHER that was none too pleased with a male NORTHERN HARRIER making multiple passes over the pond.
Along the river I noted an adult SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, a pristinely plumaged RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER and a loudly calling and very active HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER. The flycatcher image is not top notch but I'm trying to build an inventory of flycatcher images from different angles to help with identification issues. All images of flycatchers that have been correctly identified have some intrinsic value.
RFI: Windows Vista Upgrade
I'm considering upgrading to Windows Vista and would like to get feedback from anyone who has done this, particularly those who upgraded from Windows XP, Service Pack 2. I'm interested in learning about any problems that you had doing the upgrade, third party software that didn't work afterwards and so on; in fact any comments and advice (such as don't do it, piece of cake, etc). Thanks.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Out today with Lud Deppisch from Tucson, AZ who I've birded with on 8 previous occasions (for general birding and rarity chasing) dating back to 1997. Today we joined the masses to look for the current rarities in Madera Canyon -- Eared Quetzal and Crescent-chested Warbler. Although both birds were heard and seen respectively, we dipped on both of them.
We spent a disproportionate amount of time hiking up and down the Old Baldy trail and insufficient time looking for birds (we left the trailhead early enough at 7:00am but Lud wanted to be back at the parking area at 1:00pm). A tip if you go -- plan to spend more time (gee, you think). We departed the oft reported "X" drainage about an hour after the warbler had been seen high on a slope and later learned that the bird came down to the trail for all to see. The Quetzal was heard in the same drainage as the warbler but not seen by anyone to my knowledge. Such a shame that the time, effort and in Lud's case, money went for naught for the sake of an hour. Being a "Type A", I was bitterly disappointed (and I've seen both birds before several times!). I can only imagine how Lud felt, although he took it well. On the plus side, it was a fine weather day and the views were excellent. We may try again next week.
The hike up canyon was almost entirely in shade and birds were not plentiful. Most of the species that I detected were heard only and included CASSIN'S FINCH and TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE with a fly-over RED CROSSBILL heard on the way down.
Many HERMIT THRUSHES in scattered locations along the trail and a large concentration of AMERICAN ROBINS near the "X" were feeding on Madrone berries that are plentiful throughout the canyon.
Woodpeckers were perhaps the most conspicuous species, particularly NORTHERN FLICKER. A colorful RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER fed on Madrone berries with the robins and we also saw ACORN WOODPECKER and several ARIZONA WOODPECKERS.
The most interesting bird for me was a WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW high up on the mountain. Although they breed at high elevation near treeline, most sightings of wintering birds in SE AZ are in lowland habitat. The sparrow was with DARK-EYED JUNCOS (Oregon, Pink-sided and Gray-headed) and LESSER GOLDFINCHES.
Other species encountered included ~12 BAND-TAILED PIGEONS, many calling RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES, multiple OLIVE & TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS, PAINTED REDSTART, several HEPATIC TANAGERS, YELLOW-EYED JUNCO and a number of the expected common birds of the habitat.30 species recorded:
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
After yesterday's failure, I found it difficult to generate enthusiasm this morning. Although I had every intention of checking Sawmill Canyon, I ended up spending all my time in Garden Canyon. I always have a hard time driving past the fishing ponds and I succumbed today (I can resist everything except temptation). The point of no return in terms of a productive visit to Sawmill soon passed so I continued at the ponds for quite a while. I then spent 90 minutes at the middle picnic area before returning to the ponds again.
The best bird at the fishing ponds was one that I ended up not counting -- a possible RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER in the willows at the west end of the small pond. Since most sightings of this species in SE AZ turn out to be hybrids and I didn't get a good enough look to convince myself that it was pure, I had to leave it as "sapsucker species". The bird was extremely red about the head and neck and the red extended well down the breast. Definitely not a pure RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER of which at least two were present. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good enough look at the face (to determine absence/presence of a facial pattern) before the bird decided that it would rather be elsewhere.
With the exception of the sapsucker, a couple of CASSIN'S FINCHES and lots of PINE SISKINS, it was pretty standard fare. RUDDY DUCK was perhaps the least common location species. Raptors were represented by 2 RED-TAILED HAWKS, 3 NORTHERN HARRIERS, a juvenile COOPER'S HAWK and an adult SHARP-SHINNED HAWK. I saw most of the usual sparrows including RUFOUS-CROWNED, but only CHIPPING and SAVANNAH were plentiful. Both the "P" birds were in evidence -- numerous PYRRHULOXIAS and a couple of PHAINOPEPLAS. 30 species in all.
Along the trail immediately south of the middle picnic area (less than 100 yards from the road), almost all the Madrone trees are loaded with fruit. I selected a shady, concealed spot and watched as ARIZONA WOODPECKER, RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, FLICKER, MEXICAN JAY, HERMIT THRUSH and HOUSE FINCH all stopped by to feed on the berries. It looks like a good winter in prospect for fruiting Madrone in all the SE AZ mountain ranges.
I checked multiple mixed flocks in the oaks but only managed a single TOWNSEND'S WARBLER for my effort. At the stream crossing, I watched CASSIN'S FINCH, LESSER GOLDFINCH and PINE SISKIN coming in to drink and bathe.50 species recorded:
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The radical change of weather this morning (cloudy and quite cool) gave me fresh enthusiasm and I didn't have any problem motivating myself. From now until April is my favorite time of year in SE AZ. It was certainly quite a contrast from the sunny and much warmer conditions yesterday. Daytime high temperatures have been running 10-15 degrees above average so it was certainly a welcome change. Breezy (and at times very windy) conditions were the downside and we had a few sprinkles later in the day. Whether or not this is really the start of "winter" remains to be seen.
For the second day in a row I headed out with the intention of visiting Sawmill Canyon -- the difference being that today I actually did so. It took some will power to keep driving past the fishing ponds (where one birder was present). Sawmill is not very exciting at this time of year and very few birders go there. I published the November stats for the canyon on November 14, 2006 and they haven't changed much save for an increase in the cumulative total to 50. However, it's one of my key sites and I'm determined to keep my data collection going for as long as I can. I only saw 24 species in the canyon today (well above average for November) but it was a very rewarding visit and definitely a case of quality over quantity.
Woodpeckers are the main reason to visit the canyon at this season and even though I eventually managed to turn up 6 species, it didn't look very promising when I started birding at 8:00am. For a while, all that I saw were FLICKERS and ACORN WOODPECKERS. I worked methodically until almost 11:00am at which time I saw 6 species in the same location -- the two previously mentioned plus a pristinely plumaged male WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER, at least 6 RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS, several ARIZONA WOODPECKERS and a single HAIRY WOODPECKER. Hairy is the least common of all these species in Sawmill and today's bird was my first in November.
The back trails of Sawmill (old fire breaks, no longer maintained) are a great place for fruiting madrone trees (not every year, of course, but very much so this year). Years ago I christened one such location "sapsucker wash" and it sure lived up to its name today. All of the woodpecker species were in this madrone area. If there was a downside to the woodpecker spectacle, it was the crappy light due to gloomy conditions (no photos). Nevertheless, it was the very bright yellow belly of the male Williamson's that finally told me that I'd struck gold. I watched all except the Hairy feeding on berries.
It gets better. Scads of AMERICAN ROBINS were around to confuse the issue and amidst their constant chatter and scolding I picked out the alarm call of an ELEGANT TROGON. Weak at first, so weak in fact that I wondered if I'd really heard it. A second call prompted me to start searching for the bird that soon figured out I was on to it, at which point it flew up slope without giving me a really satisfying view. It's interesting to note that although most wintering trogons are in low elevation locations, it's not uncommon for them to stay in the mountains when food is plentiful (as it is this year). For example, I have winter records in Sawmill in 5 different years and I've seem them here in snow and ice and 20 degrees! Birds (in general) seem to deal with low temperatures provided there's a plentiful food supply.
Prior to the woodpeckers and trogon, I'd already seen a few decent species. Right as I got started, I came across 4 MONTEZUMA QUAIL in a rocky gully where they probably roosted. I followed that with a few CASSIN'S FINCHES, a beautiful adult male OLIVE WARBLER and an HEPATIC TANAGER that likely won't be around much longer.
All in all is it was an excellent morning and a good return on my investment of driving up and down the steadily deteriorating road which is now very rough in places. A dinky rental car would definitely have a problem and I don't recommend going in such a vehicle. Fall colors along Upper Garden Road are fantastic at the moment; some consolation for the bumpy ride.
An early afternoon stop at the fishing ponds wasn't very productive due to a combination of time of day and high wind. Highlights were a lingering and soon-to-be-considered-late CASSIN'S KINGBIRD and a CRISSAL THRASHER that I almost managed to photograph (the bird remained behind dense twigs). 20 species in all.
May is often my busiest month and it's shaping up that way for next year. May 2008 is now 60% booked so if you're planning to hire me in May, it's time to get off the dime. I've already accepted one day in June (June 1) but it will be the only one unless hell starts freezing over at the edges!
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Out today with Bill Sain from Lorton, VA. Our targets were Northern Pygmy-Owl, Baird's Sparrow and Chestnut-collared Longspur. We saw all three species but could have used better looks at the longspur (normally abundant and easy to find at this time of year). It was a beautiful fall day in SE AZ (just another shitty day in paradise).
After a typically birdless drive in darkness via the west gate of Fort Huachuca (just a GREAT HORNED OWL in Canelo Hills), we started birding in San Rafael Valley before sunrise. Only NORTHERN HARRIERS (good numbers of males today), WHITE-TAILED KITES (5 seen) and MEADOWLARKS were active at this hour. WESTERN outnumbered EASTERN by the time we left the valley at 10:00am.
Our experience today with Baird's Sparrow will no doubt seem hard to believe to some readers. Back in October -- see Oct 23 journal entry (I also saw them on Oct 3 and Oct 30), I mentioned that it looked like being a good year for them. Little did I know how those words would ring true. This often hard to find sparrow (and usually the hardest to find SE AZ winter sparrow) was actually common. Just ask Bill if you don't believe me! After setting up shop at my favorite sparrow watching spot at the west end of the valley, BAIRD'S SPARROW was the first bird that I scoped (first heard "ticking" -- a hard tick unlike the soft flight call). Over the next 30 minutes, there were times when every bird we looked at was a Baird's. I never thought I would utter the words "it's just another Baird's". At one point we saw 4 of them all perched up at the same time. Even after we left the spot we saw numerous others perched up along FR 58. I've never seen such a prolific showing in the 15 years that I've birded in the valley. We may well have seen a dozen. Amazing. We also saw a few GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS.
Having used our Karma on Baird's, we then struggled with the "easy" CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR and for a long time we only came across a few fly-bys. Eventually (after we ran out of fence wires), we found a large feeding flock in the long grass (100+ birds) but only managed flight views (albeit decent, reasonably close flight views).
The most interesting valley bird was a BELTED KINGFISHER near the corral on the southern section of FR58. Not as crazy as it seems though because the Santa Cruz river and a few stock ponds are nearby (I have 4 records from this area).
I'd rather have looked for Pygmy-Owl first thing this morning but, as I've mentioned before, I haven't yet figured out how to be in two places at the same time. We entered Miller Canyon at 11:00am and it was almost noon by the time we had hiked to a point where we could start looking. However, from 12:30-12:45pm we enjoyed the fruits of our labor with good views of a cooperative NORTHERN (MOUNTAIN) PYGMY-OWL that had the decency to perch in several leafless trees. It's always swings and roundabouts with birds -- some easy, some hard, some cooperative, some secretive and so on.
Other stuff in the canyon included COOPER'S HAWK, 3 HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHERS, lots of RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES (just a little more common that Baird's Sparrow), PINE SISKIN and PAINTED REDSTART. 20 species seen on the 2 hour round trip hike.49 species recorded:
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I made a disappointing, rather short and perfunctory visit to Sierra Vista EOP this morning (leaders choice, not mine). Hence, a rather short and perfunctory report.
Conditions were just about perfect -- clear, calm and very mild (55 degrees initially, up to 75 by 10:00am). Best bird was an adult SWAMP SPARROW that I first heard calling then saw feeding on the ground at the edge of the marsh. Swamp Sparrow is rare here and I only have 5 records (3 winter, 2 spring) in 4 different years.
Raptors were not particularly conspicuous and we missed Merlin. Even the regular PEREGRINE FALCON was only seen from a great distance. Except for GADWALL, duck numbers were generally lower than of late. Meadowlarks of both species were fairly common. Of note were a single RING-BILLED GULL, two small flocks of AMERICAN PIPITS and, most unusually, a single LARK BUNTING.44 species recorded:
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Out today with Lud Deppisch from Tucson, AZ. Lud now holds the record for hiring me the most -- today was our 10th time birding together. We repeated our visit of last Tuesday to Madera Canyon with the same result -- no sight nor sound of Eared Quetzal and Crescent Chested Warbler. Actually, we fared worse since the arrival of Aztec Thrush increased the targets from two to three. It was another fine late fall day on the Old Baldy trail -- sunny, calm and mild to start, warm later. Incredible weather for the date. In fact, yesterday Tucson broke a record dating back to 1897. It was 88 degrees which is one degree higher than the old record and a whopping 17 degrees above average.
It was a big day for the blue trogon. Shortly after traversing the Box Canyon road, my trusty Explorer rolled over 300,000 miles near Florida Wash (and many of those miles have been on bad roads). By the way, speaking of bad roads, the eastern section of Box Canyon road is seriously washboarded and not fun to drive. Anyone from Ford reading this -- how about a commercial and new vehicle?
We left the Old Baldy trailhead at 7:00am and spent from 8:30-12:30pm in the general vicinity of the well described "X" drainage. The best bird was a single AZTEC THRUSH that I saw near a fruiting Madrone about 200 yards up canyon from the "X" at 8:45am. Unfortunately, Lud was indisposed at the time and only I got to see it. Talk about a Murphy moment. I first heard the bird calling and saw it only briefly (~5 seconds) as it interacted with a HERMIT THRUSH before flying up canyon. The bird was in shade and I only saw it from the rear. However, from the amount of white in the wing I'd say it was an adult male. The bird reported a few days ago was not described as to age and sex but I wouldn't be at all surprised if several were present. Most records of this species are from midsummer through early fall though there is one winter record. My own latest record before today was October 24, 1996 in Miller Canyon.
Activity was quite sporadic throughout the morning and only three mixed flocks passed through (or the same flock three times). The flocks contained multiples of RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, BRIDLED TITMOUSE, all three NUTHATCHES, BROWN CREEPER, HUTTON'S VIREO and several TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS. Not seen but calling nearby were 3+ OLIVE WARBLERS.
Of note was GREATER PEWEE seen well in typical fashion atop various tall trees. This is rather latish for a high mountain location and most birds at this season are seen in riparian habitat. The bird was quite vocal and regularly gave its "peek-peek" call and occasionally a José María phrase. At one point there was some interaction between the pewee and a HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER. Other birds in the vicinity and along the trail included several ARIZONA WOODPECKERS and RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS; a single female CASSIN'S FINCH, calling fly-by RED CROSSBILLS, a PAINTED REDSTART and male and female HEPATIC TANAGERS.
I'll single out a calling NORTHERN (MOUNTAIN) PYGMY-OWL for special mention. I heard a bird here last week but there were so many birders present that I wasn't willing to count it. Today I heard the bird long before any other birders arrived.
In the grassland near Florida Wash I picked up CASSIN'S SPARROW. The drive east through Box Canyon yielded few birds in the heat of the afternoon. I added several RED-TAILED HAWKS, 2 HARRIERS, 5 KESTRELS and GREATER ROADRUNNER.37 species recorded:
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Happy Turkey Day to all. Anyone want to buy 50,000 "England for Euro 2008" T-shirts going cheap? It's a good thing I don't drink otherwise I would have drowned in my beer after yesterday's debacle. The silver lining will come next June when I'm traveling and won't need to find somewhere to watch the games.
I headed to Garden Canyon this Thanksgiving day. After a cool and cloudy start it was a gorgeous blue sky morning. There were a few more folks around than I had expected but it was still very quiet which suited me just fine. In the words of some song whose title I can't remember "and that's the way I like it". I started at the fishing ponds, moved up canyon to the middle picnic area then checked Lower Garden pond.
Best bird at the fishing ponds was a very drab and nondescript ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER which was a location first for me (although I've seen them regularly elsewhere in Garden Canyon). I first heard the bird "ticking" and caught up with it some time later. I feel fairly confident in calling it a first fall orestera (white not yellow eye-ring, slightly gray head) but I can't say if it's a male or female. I'm sure that some birders will think they can sex the bird but there's no way to know that you are correct.
Of note was a calling and occasionally singing GRAY FLYCATCHER. I first noticed a bird here on September 26 and have seen (presumably) the same bird several times since so perhaps it will stay for the winter. This is a species (along with numerous others) that is much more common further west in SE AZ and becomes increasingly scarce as one travels east. To illustrate this, during the months of October through April over the past 14 years, I have recorded Gray Flycatcher in the mesquite areas at Patagonia Lake on more than 80% of visits (287 of 352) and only 10% (43 of 431) on the San Pedro in similar habitat. Quite a difference.
At least two CASSIN'S FINCHES and lots of PINE SISKINS continue. Also present were a male ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD, at least two RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS, a few PHAINOPEPLAS, CRISSAL THRASHER and RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW (sparrows were generally fairly scarce though). 30 species in all.
Birds were every which way when I arrived at the middle picnic area stream crossing. I stayed within a few yards of the road and always had my vehicle in sight yet I recorded 25 species in 40 minutes. By far the best species here (elevationally speaking) were RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH and OLIVE WARBLER. I doubt that I've recorded either species this low in the canyon before. A spiffy male TOWNSEND'S WARBLER and a PAINTED REDSTART made it a five warbler species morning.
Water was the attraction and I watched most of the species that I saw coming in to drink and bathe. An active and noisy HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER was an exception. At least 20 WESTERN BLUEBIRDS, 10 CASSIN'S FINCHES and scads of PINE SISKINS and LESSER GOLDFINCHES were constantly on the move as I tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to get a few photos. However, I did manage an interesting image of 2 female CASSIN'S FINCHES that I was pleased with given the absolutely crappy light in the streambed. Not because it's great quality, but because of the composition. Not being a "real" photographer, bird images for me are just about the bird and I don't try to be artistic. This shot has a little more context than I usually show. The background behind the birds is actually water and the color is due to sunlight filtering through the trees and some orange and red leaves. One bird has its hackles raised (which is typical for this species) while the other doesn't, giving it a slightly different appearance.
Other species included a very close ARIZONA WOODPECKER, several ACORN WOODPECKERS, a female ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD, HERMIT THRUSH, BRIDLED TITMOUSE, HUTTON'S VIREO, a noisy flock of MEXICAN JAYS, SPOTTED TOWHEE, the usual three flavors of DARK-EYED JUNCO (Gray-headed, Pink-sided & Oregon) and a male PYRRHULOXIA.
In comparison to my first two locations, Lower Garden pond was fairly quiet later in the morning. There's not much water left here. I saw many of the same species including my third ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD of the morning (a second female) and a couple of RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS chasing each other around. GREATER ROADRUNNER and CANYON TOWHEE were the only new species for the morning.
A great day (and not a single rarity in sight).57 species recorded:
Friday, November 23, 2007
It was much cooler and quite windy this morning and I almost decided not to head out (as you know, I really hate windy conditions). However, I decided to visit Scheelite Canyon to check on Spotted Owl (an activity that is not impacted by the wind).
A stop at a very windy middle picnic area in Garden Canyon was the antithesis of yesterday and only a few birds were present. How often does this happen! Following the low elevation sightings of Red-breasted Nuthatch and Olive Warbler at this location yesterday, STELLER'S JAY was a major surprise here today. A few CASSIN'S FINCHES were calling atop the now almost leafless sycamores at the stream crossing.
When I reached the 3/8 mile mark in Scheelite, I heard lots of leaves rustling and saw the bushes moving just ahead for me. I was about ready to start practicing my Spanish when a band of Coatis came into view. I counted at least 20 of them; most were small to medium with just a couple of larger animals. They were heading down canyon at a fair pace, foraging as they moved. They didn't freak when they spotted me and just gave me a wide berth. Since I started frequenting the SE AZ mountains on a regularly basis some 15 years ago, I've seen fewer and fewer Coatis every year. In fact, this was my first sighting of 2007.
Disappointingly, SPOTTED OWL was fairly easy to find in a regularly used tree in the lower roosting area. When not with a client, I much prefer a hard-to-find owl in a new location that adds to my data. However, an easy-to-find owl that reinforces my data is better than not seeing at bird at all! As is usually the case with owls in Scheelite, bad light and twigs were my photographic enemy. In all the many hundreds of times that I've seen a Spotted Owl in the canyon, I haven't yet managed a really good image.
As you might expect at this time of year, the canyon was fairly quiet and I only recorded 16 species. A couple of mixed flocks contained the expected regulars plus a calling OLIVE WARBLER that is very uncommon in Scheelite, even in fall and winter. HERMIT THRUSHES were taking advantage of the plentiful Madrone berries scattered throughout the lower canyon. For the second day in a row I had excellent views of a very close ARIZONA WOODPECKER
I returned home to find a WHITE-WINGED DOVE in my yard for the first since May (perhaps sensing the impending change in weather). They'll be present on and off throughout the winter.35 species recorded:
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Well, that impending change in the weather wasn't impending for too long and a preview of winter arrived Friday night. Heavy clouds and cold rain at street level in Sierra Vista continued into Saturday with snow in the Huachuca and Chiricahua Mountains and other areas of Cochise County. It will be interesting to see what birds the weather brings (and interesting, though perhaps disappointing, to see what decides to depart for warmer climes).
The first below freezing overnight temperature (27 degrees) of the season prompted me to turn on my furnace. There was thin layer of ice on my vehicle this morning as I headed down to Sierra Vista EOP. Quite a contrast to the well above average temperatures of the past few weeks. The crisp morning conditions plus a clear blue sky and a layer of snow on the Huachucas certainly conveyed a wintry feel.
Although a few species seen at the EOP today were perhaps present because of the weather, there was certainly nothing unusual noted. Sparrows were much more conspicuous than usual and waterfowl numbers have definitely increased. HORNED LARKS and YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS also seemed more numerous. The only shorebirds noted were KILLDEER, 3 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS and a SPOTTED SANDPIPER
Least common location species (listed in decreasing order of personal records) were a female BUFFLEHEAD, perhaps the same RING-BILLED GULL as last week, a couple of WHITE-WINGED DOVES, a continuing SWAMP SPARROW in the same location as last week and a rare NORTHERN FLICKER (my 4th record in 4 different years, 3 in November).
Raptor highlights were 2 PEREGRINE FALCONS and a stooping NORTHERN HARRIER doing a very passable Peregrine impression that fooled me for a few seconds. I don't remember seeing a Harrier do this before
Other species included a lone EARED GREBE, 2 female plumaged LESSER SCAUP, several VIRGINIA RAILS and many SORAS (both heard only), a distant GREATER ROADRUNNER, a few AMERICAN PIPITS, untold numbers of chattering MARSH WRENS, many YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, the usual sparrow and blackbird species and EASTERN & WESTERN MEADOWLARKS.52 species recorded (7:40-11:00am, 35-52 degrees):
Monday, November 26, 2007
Today I traveled to Willcox to see what the recent inclement weather may have brought. I then checked Benson Sewage Ponds and St. David Monastery on my return journey. It was a mostly overcast day and quite chilly first thing this morning.
Willcox was a major disappointment and certainly not worth my investment in time and gas money. I was expecting a major influx of waterfowl but that certainly wasn't the case and duck diversity was shockingly low. Many hundreds of NORTHERN SHOVELERS were on the main pond along with the usual RUDDY DUCKS but not much else in the duck department. The only birds of note on the main pond were a single male COMMON MERGANSER, 8 RING-BILLED GULLS and 2 BONAPARTE'S GULLS.
The golf course ponds held PIED-BILLED & EARED GREBES and a few GREEN-WINGED TEAL & RING-NECKED DUCKS. At least 100 AMERICAN WIGEON were too far away in the interior of the golf course and I couldn't check for the now annual hybrid Eurasian. I noted a couple of GREAT BLUE HERONS, a single BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON and 4 SANDHILL CRANES.
I was a little surprised by the lack of raptors -- just one each NORTHERN HARRIER, RED-TAILED HAWK and PRAIRIE FALCON.
Landbirds redeemed the trip somewhat. A brightly colored RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER in the willows at the largest golf course pond was a new location species for me (#191). I also added 3 species to my November total for a nice round 100.
Less common species were LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER and a hatch year female VERMILION FLYCATCHER. Other species included 6 SCALED QUAIL, 20 GAMBEL'S QUAIL, 50+ EURASIAN COLLARED DOVES (coming soon to a location near you), several AMERICAN PIPITS, 3 CURVE-BILLED THRASHERS, 2 LOGGERHEAD SHRIKES, a smattering of sparrow species and PYRRHULOXIA. 43 species in all. Willcox bar graph
Compared to Willcox, my short stop at Benson Sewage pond was very productive and duck diversity was good (11 species). Highlights were 60+ CANVASBACKS, 12+ REDHEADS and 15 BUFFLEHEADS (including 7 spiffy males). Among the other duck species were PINTAIL and 30+ RING-NECKED DUCKS (I couldn't find a scaup among them). Also present were a handful of GADWALL, a couple of SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, one RING-BILLED GULL, a few EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES, a beautiful adult male VERMILION FLYCATCHER, AMERICAN PIPIT and a lone LARK SPARROW (it's not often that I see just one). 32 species in all.
The most conspicuous species at St. David Monastery around midday were a large flock of WHITE-WINGED DOVES (at least 50, perhaps more hiding), lots of soaring CHIHUAHUAN RAVENS and several woodpecker species. GILA WOODPECKERS were very common (20+) with FLICKER not far behind. I also saw a few LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKERS and a single RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER. I dipped on a hoped for wintering Lewis Woodpecker. This hard case WHITE-WINGED DOVE stayed put as I walked towards the flock but it doesn't look very confident!
The many hackberry trees have little or no fruit (yet) and, consequently, I saw none of the fruit eating species that are often present here in winter. Less common location species were INCA DOVE, HUTTON'S VIREO, COMMON RAVEN and YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD.
Other species included GRAY FLYCATCHER, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, ABERT'S TOWHEE, 3-4 CARDINALS and a flock of 20 or so WESTERN MEADOWLARKS. 37 species in all.
[Oddball note: Remember earlier this month (November 2) my weird out-of-place sighting of a Harris's Hawk in upper Carr Canyon in the Huachucas. Well, even more out-of-place, one might even say bizarre, was a (confirmed) sighting of this species in Wyoming a few days ago. Birds certainly have wings and they don't read books!]74 species recorded:
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Out today with Dean & Joan Luehrs from Sun City, AZ who I've birded with on six previous occasions. We visited Peña Blanca Lake and Patagonia Lake State Park. It was another fine fall day to be in the field -- chilly and overcast to start; very pleasant and mild at Peña Blanca Lake; much warmer at Patagonia Lake in the afternoon (~70 degrees).
Despite low initial activity at Peña Blanca Lake, we spent a very enjoyable 2 hours wandering around the picnic area trails. Highlights were OSPREY, several RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS (the oaks here are one of the best places in SE AZ for this species in winter) and HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER (also reliable here in winter). The photo was taken in a dark place but it cleaned up well enough to illustrate several important characters for this species in one pose -- strong contrast between gray head and green back, slightly raised hackles, eye-ring mostly behind the eye, small bill (mostly dark on this individual but this isn't always the case) and long primary projection.
Among the ~30 species noted, we watched a HUTTON'S VIREO catch a very large grasshopper and wrestle with it for a while. The bird then sat perfectly still just feet away for a good 5 minutes and I thought the grasshopper had escaped. Then, all of a sudden, the vireo retrieved the unfortunate bug and flew off.
It was midday by the time we arrived at Patagonia Lake and we struggled to raise any birds for a while. Our only objective here was to get a good look at GRAY FLYCATCHER, something that I thought would be quite easy (when will I learn). After hearing a bird and getting sidetracked with DUSKY FLYCATCHER and CASSIN'S VIREO, we eventually did get a good look and were able to observe the diagnostic (downward) tail wagging.
Although we didn't spend much time examining birds out on the lake, we noted several EARED GREBES, WESTERN GREBE, 2 NEOTROPIC CORMORANTS, 20+ CANVASBACKS (small groups at both ends of the lake) and 2 RING-BILLED GULLS.
Other species included a few COMMON MOORHENS, a nicely posed RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, a decent sized flock of LARK SPARROWS and a PINK-SIDED JUNCO (juncos are uncommon here). 44 species in all.62 species recorded:
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Today I rose early (for a change) and drove in darkness over to Sulphur Springs Valley. I wanted to witness the Sandhill Crane departure from Whitewater Draw and then check for Mountain Plovers. As yesterday, the morning began cloudy and chilly then became very pleasant.
I arrived at the fields on Davis Road near Central Highway at 6:50am which was only just in time to see thousands of SANDHILL CRANES streaming north. In fact, many thousands were already well to the north of Davis. Nevertheless, as always, it was a spectacular sight. As soon as there was enough light, I began searching for plovers. I spent about an hour working all the fields in the area without a sniff of success. Based on my experience over the years, I consider the grass in most of the fields to be too long. The only decent (short cropped) habitat that I found was on Central Highway in the third field north of Davis. This was the only location that had KILLDEER (a good indicator that the location is also good for plovers). Cranes not withstanding, this was a disappointing start to the day as my efforts went unrewarded.
Among the species that I saw during the search were an adult SNOW and two juvenile ROSS'S GEESE, the usual FERRUGINOUS HAWKS, SCALED QUAIL, a handful of EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES, plenty of fly-by AMERICAN PIPITS and both EASTERN & WESTERN MEADOWLARKS.
As I turned down Coffman Road, I'd barely traveled 150 yards when I saw BENDIRE'S THRASHER and CRISSAL THRASHER in the same binocular view, both perched up catching the warming rays of the weak sun. Although I was able to get very close to the Bendire's, all fluffed up after a cold night, this turned out to be a mistake because the Crissal dropped into the grass. Decent images of Crissal are much harder to come by.
The water level is dropping alarmingly at Whitewater Draw and some large mud flats are now exposed. While this is good news for shorebirds (in the wrong season, of course), it's definitely not so good for ducks and geese, especially diving ducks. Shorebirds were scarce and I found only 2 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS, 2 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS and 5 LEAST SANDPIPERS.
Ten SNOW GEESE were present when I arrived and later in the day the "white geese" flock grew to almost 80 and included at least one ROSS'S GOOSE. Most common ducks were GREEN-WINGED TEAL and NORTHERN PINTAIL.
Shortly after I arrived, an odd looking scaup had me puzzled -- it wasn't a stand-out Lesser or Greater. The bill seemed large for Lesser but the head shape wasn't right for Greater. Most times when I see a scaup, I can usually form an opinion fairly quickly based on how the bird strikes me. I didn't want to spend time on the bird so I shot a few distant images and moved on. When I got home, I used a technique that I'd used recently to assure myself that a very ratty gull at Willcox back in July was really a Ring-billed Gull. This was a bird that seemed to be wasting away and looked at death's door. I took an image of a "normal" Ring-billed Gull, scaled it, then overlayed it on the subject gull. It became immediately clear that the structure and bill size were correct for Ring-billed and it was just the fleshy areas that were diminished. I did the same thing with Lesser and Greater Scaup images that I had and overlaid them on today's bird and was able to convince myself that it was a LESSER SCAUP.
It was a good owl day with an estimated ~14 BARN OWLS (between Dave Beaudette and myself), 3 GREAT HORNED OWLS and one LONG-EARED OWL. I inadvertently flushed the Long-eared that was roosting low and fairly openly for this species. The bird flew off and I was unable to relocate it.
I didn't do too well on raptors and only PRAIRIE FALCON was of note (Dave saw the continuing Caracara in flight).
A single SPOTTED TOWHEE scratching around in the leaf litter was a new location species for me bringing my Whitewater Draw list to 212.
Other species from 50+ that I recorded at Whitewater included 3 GREATER ROADRUNNERS, BENDIRE'S THRASHER, a flock of 50 LARK BUNTING, 10 PYRRHULOXIAS and a few YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS.63 species recorded:
This log is in chronological order and the most recent entries
are at the bottom of the page.
The last update was on Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Nov. Species Seen
Journal - November, 2007
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