Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Birding Outing

Yesterday I took my first grade student Francisco on his first official birding outing.  I dragged my three daughters with me to meet him, his dad, and his sister at Reid Park.  We started at the ponds to check out the ducks.  At the main pond we spotted the usual suspects:

American Wigeon
Ring-necked Duck
Then I was a little surprised to find a Lesser Scaup here.  I've never seen one here at the main pond, they're usually at another pond in the southeast corner of the park where they're more difficult to photograph.  This one was up close!

Lesser Scaup
A single Eared Grebe posed nicely.

Eared Grebe
Oddly, there was only one Redhead, a female.  It was disguised among the many female wigeons.

Redhead (female)
We walked around to the smaller pond and I noticed a Kingfisher flying around making it's rattling call.  I haven't seen one here in five years despite over 30 visits.  At least one has been present here every year, I just seem to miss them.  Now I know why.  It only spent a minute here refusing to have its picture taken.

I realized we hadn't seen a Black-crowned Night-Heron yet.  They're usually everywhere!  Francisco's dad pointed out what I thought was one, but it turned out to be a Green Heron, a cool bird too. 

Green Heron
A Great Egret was hanging out in a nearby tree.

Great Egret
Then a duck landed on the pond and I was surprised to see it was a female Common Goldeneye.  They're considered rare here.  This was only the second time I've seen one in Southeast Arizona.

Common Goldeneye (female)
Our luck continued when I spotted a Cassin's Kingbird in a mesquite tree.  I had one here a year ago almost to the day.  They're considered casual (do not occur annually) in winter.

Cassin's Kingbird
Francisco didn't know just how lucky he was!  Then we spotted a hawk circling above.  Francisco exclaimed, "I'm a hawk guy!"  Read this previous post about him to see why.

Red-tailed Hawk (intermediate juvenile)
  The kids enjoyed the turtles most of all.

As we walked back to our vehicles, we finally saw a couple Black-crowned Night-Herons looking for their next meal.
Black-crowned Night-Heron (adult)
Black-crowned Night-Heron (juvenile)
We finished with 30 species total.  Not bad for some leisurely birding!  The great thing is, I think Francisco's dad is just as excited about the birds as he is.  I sent my checklist to him using eBird's checklist sharing feature and he was going to start an account.  Awesome!


  1. Super post, and great you have 2 new people involved in birding. It seems I tend to see more when I take my kids - I think they are good luck for birds. You have wonderful photos of these birds.

  2. This is so awesome! That kid is lucky to have you as a teacher. Great photos too, the egret in the tree has some great colors.

  3. Awesome! New birder mojo is almost always positive...the universe just converging to promote birding.

  4. So many cool birds right here in the middle of Tucson! It's fabulous that you shared your enthusiasm and knowledge and got the boy and his father excited about birding.

  5. ...what a great introduction to birds for your student and his father! Beautiful photos of the ducks...

  6. Yay! Nice to have another eBird convert! It's also nice to see the birds of Reid Park again. What a great outing!

  7. At Reid Park around 7 Dec. I observed a migrating Snowy Egret and a Belted Kingfisher, both which were new for me. Two weeks later there were also Western Bluebirds. Wonder if the green heron, kingbird, and goldeneye have not moved on.

    1. According to eBird, the Cassin's Kingbird and Green Heron were reported on Jan. 6 and the goldeneye has been reported recently (Jan. 15) at the ponds behind the Hardesty Building in the SE corner of the park.
      eBird Range Maps:

    2. Just visited RP Tues. evening and saw the green-backed heron, which was new for me. Thank you for this and the link!

  8. Lovely photos, especially the nice goldeneye. Love the water in the shot.

  9. The Common Goldeneye is very similar to the Barrow's, which has been recorded in the northern half of the state, but is essentially unknown in the south, though I would not dismiss the possibility of its occurrence because it is waterfowl and because distribution maps can quickly become outdated. Between the two, the juvenile males are difficult to distinguish, but with the female, the Common has the yellow on the beak restricted to the tip. Also note that the two can hybridize.

    Your excellent photograph helps dismiss the possibility of which Goldeneye it is because of the blackish colouring of the beak, and in fact this individual does not appear to have any yellow (or it is the light or it is faded). On the 24th I visited the pond where it is located and observed it. It is in a gated pond behind a water treatment facility, but this does not constitute an enclosure and it is very much free-roaming.

    Also, your comments on thrashers are greatly appreciated.