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.