Monday, December 31, 2012

Shoot Me Monday

After it rained all night here in Tucson my bird feeder was quite busy this morning.  This afternoon it was still sprinkling out when Gaby noticed this female House Sparrow with white secondaries, kinda cool.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

Back in the Saddle

I finally feel better than I have in months!  It's a good thing too because there have been some great birds around this week.  Saturday morning I went out to look for my potential lifer Pine Warbler that was found earlier this week.  When I got to Evergreen Cemetery all the birders were leaving and after an hour of searching I came up empty.  I even went back an hour later but it was dead, so Sunday morning I made sure I was the first of the living to arrive.  After a little searching, another birder and I caught a glimpse of the warbler, my 63rd lifer of 2012! (32 were in Hawaii)  It moved around in the shadows a lot and I only managed some really bad photos.

Pine Warbler, I promise
Pine Warbler is accidental in fall in Southeast Arizona and has only been recorded about 15 times in the state.  Amazingly one was found in the same cemetery two years ago.  Some other birders also detected its buddy, a Chestnut-sided Warbler, also rare.

Chestnut-sided Warbler
There was also an American Robin in the area, uncommon in town.

American Robin
I decided to check out a couple other spots in town, starting with Reid Park.

resident American Kestrel
Great Egret
Lesser Scaup
Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret with breakfast
Last I headed over to another cemetery I've been meaning to check out since I've never heard of anyone birding there.  I found the usual suspects, but I'll have to check back often. 

Say's Phoebe, South Lawn Cemetery 
Vermilion Flycatcher
Red-tailed Hawk
It feels wonderful to get out and bird again, even if it was a little weird walking around all those graves.  Have a great week!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Shoot Me Monday

This is the first dark-morph Red-tailed Hawk I've photographed.  I thought it was pretty cool, I don't see many around here.  Seen near Green Valley, AZ.  Have a very birdy week! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Third Time's A Charm

Imagine you're leading a Tucson Audubon birding field trip when two of your participants ask, "What's that black bird?"  As you get your bins on it, your heart drops.  It's a Groove-billed Ani!  That's exactly what happened to Michael Skinner at Sweetwater Wetlands on Monday.  This is an extremely rare bird in Pima County with fewer than 20 records for the state.

For two days in a row I had missed it.  After an hour of searching this morning, I was having doubts I would see it.  But I walked up to few birders that had seen it across the pond.  It showed itself briefly to me but was far away.  We waited a while to see it again, but it didn't show.  I decided to walk around to the other side of the pond where I thought it might be.  When I got there, I heard an unfamiliar call.  I looked for a few minutes and finally got great looks at the bird foraging in a willow at eye level.  And it was a lifer for me!

Groove-billed Ani
CERange Map for Groove-billed Ani

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Herring Gull in Tucson!

Late Tuesday a Herring Gull was reported 9 miles from my house.  This is a very rare gull in Arizona away from the lower Colorado River Valley.  It would be a new county and state bird for me.  I made up my mind that I would wake up early and try for it before work.  I arrived at Lakeside Park before sunrise and spotted the dirty brown gull flying around the "lake".  The last one I had seen was in San Diego almost five years ago.  Score, just what the doctor ordered!  I snapped a few pics and raced off to work.

CERange Map for Herring Gull

Monday, November 12, 2012

Suckish Non-Birding

I haven't posted here in a while because I've only been out birding a few times in the past two months due to health problems.  "That's suckish!" as my daughters would say.  However, the rarities this fall in Southeast Arizona have been much fewer than last year.  By this time last year 17 rarities had been spotted at Peña Blanca Lake alone.  Not that I only chase rare birds, but I certainly could be missing more.

The best bird this fall by far has been a Philadelphia Vireo found last month at, yes, Peña Blanca Lake.  The last time one was found in the state was 1999.  Unfortunately I was busy the weekend it was found and it didn't bother to stay around for another.  Recently I've felt a little better and tried for a few new county birds but have come up empty.  My biggest miss was last weekend when I tried for a Surf Scoter that was being seen at the sewage pond in Amado south of Tucson.  It was seen a few hours before I arrived but it eluded me.  It was seen the next day and a few days later with four Bonaparte's Gulls.  I wish these birds would stick around for the weekend!  Other misses were an American Bittern and Eastern Phoebe found along the Santa Cruz River.

But enough complaining.  On a positive note, I did get to see a Common Tern, a great bird for Pima county.  This photo shows the dark leading and trailing edge of the wing nicely.

6th hole pond of San Ignacio Golf Club | Green Valley, AZ

CERange Map for Common Tern

A few days ago I checked out my neighborhood patch at sunset and found this Cactus Wren.

So I'm hold up (pulling a Sandy Komito) waiting for the next good bird to show up and crossing my fingers I'll feel well enough to chase it.  Maybe I'll even feel well enough to go find one myself.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Shoot Me Monday

Lots of birds are on the move south.  By now the Botteri's Sparrows that spend the summers in Southeast Arizona are in Mexico.  Back in August I searched for them in the grasslands below Madera Canyon.  This is a good spot to find them and I had seen them here before.  But I never had the opportunity to photograph one.  After listening to a few distant birds singing, I heard one nearby.  It's definitely a song you want to know since they're hard to get a good look at.  Luckily it was just off the side of the road.


Botteri's Sparrow
CERange Map for Botteri's Sparrow

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sabine's Gull in Tucson!

Monday evening a Sabine's Gull was found at some recharge basins in Tucson, AZ.  So yesterday after work I zipped over there to see it.  Sabine's Gulls are rare and irregular fall transients to Southeast Arizona.  Luckily it was still around.  The gull would occasionally fly into view and finally landed on the water where I could get a better look.  Another lifer!  It looks like a first summer bird, but correct me if I'm wrong.  As for the pronunciation, I once read somewhere that it's "suh-bean," but just found a source that says it's "say-bin."  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  I guess we should ask Sir Edward Sabine, for whom the bird is named.

 CERange Map for Sabine's Gull  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Shoot Me Monday

Today marks one year of bird blogging for me.  Thanks to all three of my loyal readers.  No, but seriously thank you!  It's been a blast and I look forward to another great year.

Here is a Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher I saw a few weeks ago in Madera Canyon.  I first located it after it made its distinctive squeaky-toy call.


 CERange Map for Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
 Have a great Labor Day!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Shoot Me Monday

I've been hoping to get out to Madera Canyon to see a White-eyed Vireo that was found at the beginning of the month.  But since school started back up, I haven't had time.  Luckily the bird was seen during the week, so I headed out early Saturday morning.  When I arrived at the picnic area, I spotted two young boys with binoculars.  I headed over to them and their grandmother asked me if I was looking for the vireo.  It turns out they were from California and had just arrived the day before.  She said she wasn't sure where the apple tree was where the bird had been seen.  As they were looking at another bird, I wandered over near the stream.  I heard an unfamiliar bird call and followed it.  Sure enough it was my target bird!  I called the boys over and we all had great looks at it.  It was a lifer for me and (both?) the boys, not to mention a great bird for Pima County.  There are about thirty records in the state.   Since it was found it has lost its tail but is starting to grow a new one.  Aren't those eyes stunning?  The Wrentit is the only other passerine in the U.S. with white eyes. 

White-eyed Vireo
 White-eyed Vireo Range Map

Monday, August 13, 2012

Southeast Arizona's Shorebird Show

It's been way too long since I posted here and I'll have to ask you to please click over to Birding is Fun!  Thanks.