Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Phoenix/Tempe Wintering Birds

The second leg of our trip brought us to Phoenix for a few nights.  Temps were cold in the morning, but quickly warmed up.  I watched the Arizona/New Mexico bird list for reports of good sightings.   I also wanted to take my mom to the Phoenix Botanical Garden (PBG) so I hit the Tempe Reservoir at sun up with the intent of spending a few hours before hitting the PBG.  I wasn't disappointed.  I wanted grebe's and I got them (pied-billed, eared, horned, western and potentially Clark's).   The Clark's is still up for debate.  The Sibley's explanation for difference between Western and Clark'sis that the black cap doesn't come below the eye.  Unfortunately the black cap doesn't come below the eye in the juvenile western either.  So another bird challenge for me.  My photos of the Clark's isn't good enough to post so I'll be reviewing other Clark's photos.  If you have a good Clark's photo I'd be interested to see it. 

Eared Grebe

Western Grebe (see the distinct black line below the eye)

Proud Ruddy Duck strutting its junk!

Crazy as a Coot!

After spending just a short period of time at the Tempe Reservoir, we cruised over to PBG to check out the gardens and look for some cool birds.  We weren't disappointed by either.  The gardens were being prepared for a luminary show so they were primping the walkways for a huge tadoo!  Most birds I saw were lifers and fortunately it was Saturday morning so we ran in to a Bird group on their weekly bird walk.  I was fortunate as they pointed out several birds that I would have misidentified.  Take the blue-gray gnatcatcher and the black tailed gnatcatcher.  Winter black tailed sure looks like a BGG to me.  New bird, yay!

Abert's Towhee

Anna's hummingbird

Black tailed gnatcatcher

Cactus Wren

Costa's Hummingbird

Curve-billed Thrasher

Gambrel's Quail (tons of these birds) 
I remember Northern Bobwhites in these numbers
on Cape Cod when I was growing up.  Days gone by. 

I was excited to get my first Verdin, but man by the end I was sick of this excited little bird.
Clearly a very abundant species. 

Lesser Goldfinch (female)

I'm all ears!

Rosy cheeked Luv Birds
I had to stand on my head in the brush for this pic hence the angle. 

Great time in Phoenix with some great birders. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sedona Arizona

My mom turns 80 in January and I thought it would be nice for a mother son trip to a warmer climate.  Fortunately she finds birding tolerable so...birding I did.  Yes it was nice to hang with my mom, but no it wasn't warmer.   Our trip began in Sedona....gods country!  Although my last post mentioned that I needed to live near the ocean, I could live in Sedona for at least a portion of the year.  Amazing beauty, tranquility and birding!!!  Sedona is at 4000+/- elevation so the temp first thing in the morning was below 30.  But the sky was blue and our hotel looked out on amazing scenery. 

Red Rock State Park

I wish I had a wide angle lens.  Might try to post a few pics together to give a sense of the valley.   So cool!  A picture can not tell the full story. 

Anna's Hummingbird

Bewick's Wren

Canyon Towhee  (kind of a drab looking bird..not far off from the Abert's or California)

Cooper's Hawk

Ladderback Woodpecker

Road Runner, the coyote's after you.
Road Runner, if he catches you you're through.
Road Runner, the coyote's after you. Road Runner, if he catches you you're ...
Beep Beep

Not afraid of people clearly....this dude ran between me and a docent at the park while we were discussing birding in the region. 
Ruby Crowned Kinglet (luv the red spot on the head)


Western Bluebird

The species is still out with friends to ID.  The smaller empids are very difficult.  This bird was small. 
Hammond's or a Cordilleran. Anybody?

Western Meadowlark

From Sedona, we stayed two days in Phoenix and 3 days in Tucson.  Still working on the photos.  100 species and 30 lifers.  Yay!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Alcids on Cape Cod

Had all kinds of plans to get a few projects done this weekend so I had no plans to bird....what a bad idea!  I read the e-bird list for Massachusetts and there were so many great birds I threw out all my plans today and went to the Cape.  It was sooo worth it.  For some reason Razorbills are migrating in huge numbers into the area.  Most of the other alcids were also reported along the coast.   So my first stop was Sacuset Beach in Plymouth.  Sacuset is located at the end of the Cape Cod Canel where it enters Cape Cod Bay.  The current is amazingly quick so diving birds were having a feeding frenzy.  There were 20 common loons, 10 razorbills, a horned grebe and a black guillimont.  There was a report of a Lapland Longspur, but I didn't see it.  Temps were a bit chilly at sun up, but it quickly warmed up.  No wind and blue sky.   I realize my post isn't all alcids, but the alcids stole the show on this trip.

Black Guillemot
Scusett Beach

Horned Grebe,
Scusett Beach

From Plymouth I drove right down to P-town harbor.  I figured I could start there and visit locations on the way back.  Conditions were much different in P-town.  It was overcast with a steady breeze and raw, but the birding was fabulous. 

Common Eider,
MacMillan Wharf,
P-town Cape Cod

MacMillan Wharf,
P-town Cape Cod

Thick-billed Murre,
MacMillan Wharf,
P-town Cape Cod

In addition to the birds photographed I also saw a Brown booby (lifer), 10 harlequins, a long-tailed duck, great cormerants, and a slew of common loons.  I left P-town for Race Point to view the ocean side.  There must of been 5000 red breasted mergansers, but nothing close to shore.  Standard gulls and a few northern gannets were buzzing around.  I spent a bit of time on the beach listening to the waves. 

Sorry to my mid-western friends, but I really could never live away from the ocean.  It is truly amazing. 

I departed P-town for Wellfleet Harbor.  Heard a report of a dovekie hanging out along the dock.  It was low tide when I arrived so the birds were right along the dock.   Tons of Boneparte's Gulls diving for minnows.  I was standing on a boat ramp and up came a Red throated loon.  He didn't care that I was there.  I spent so much time gawking at the loon that I almost didn't see the Dovekie pop up next to me.   

Red-throated loon
Wellfleet Harbor

Wellfleet Harbor

An amazing birding day!