Monday, July 29, 2013

Just in the Nick of Time

Since my son was born on the first of this month, I haven't been out birding (or sleeping much).  You can imagine my bitter bird face when the Rufous-necked Wood-Rail was found 350 miles away.  But I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my son before I have to go back to teaching.  I've also had more time than usual to watch the feeders at home and picked up four new yard birds.

This past Wednesday another great bird was found in Huachuca Canyon, a Slate-throated Redstart.  Now 70 miles away is doable!  There are only 8 previous sightings of this bird in Arizona and according to the Nat Geo guide all US records are from the spring.  They say this bird is a molting juvenile which is interesting because young birds rarely travel far.  So where did it fledge?  Well, I knew I only had a one-day window to see this bird since I had my daughters over until last night and I go back to work tomorrow.

I made it to the yellow gate of the canyon at 6:30 this morning and found it closed.  Not wanting to wait for it to be opened, I made the 2 mile hike to where the bird had been reported.  At 8:30 I spotted the bird flitting around on the dry creek bed fanning its tail and putting on a fantastic show.  What a gorgeous bird!

I was able to alert 14 other birders who were able to see the bird.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that one of them was the chief consultant and editor of the Nat Geo guide, Jon Dunn, and that it was a new ABA bird for him.  Pretty freakin' cool!

Unfortunately I've just learned that the canyon is closed until at least next weekend because of bear activity.  I was just in time.  For anyone who was planning on chasing this bird this week, here is the culprit.  Feel free to cuss it out.

Hopefully the bird sticks around and the bear doesn't!