Southwest Wings Spring Fling: Update

With it only being the 13th of January, preparations are moving along pretty well for my forth coming trip to Southeast Arizona.

My hotel reservation has been made for the 5 nights I’ll be there. I made them with a reputable chain that I’ve used many times in the past, and the total price is under $300.00. For me that’s a win. It’s everything I need, a place to sleep, shower, and work on pictures and writing updates for the blog.

On January 1st. registration opened up for the Spring festival and that’s when I registered myself. Prior to finalizing the field trips I wanted to go on, I had to do some serious homework. Much like what I did before heading down to the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival 5 years ago, I wanted to make sure the field trips I choose gave me the possibility of checking off more birds.

Here’s a list of the field trips I selected.

  1. Huachuca Canyon and Fort
  2. Owls of the Huachuca Mountains
  3. Ramsey and Brown Canyons
  4. Ash and Miller Canyons
  5. Madera and Box Canyon

Now most of these field trip, excluding the Owl one, end late afternoon. This leaves me with hours of birding left in the day. With the sun setting just after 7 pm, I should be able to fill my time with some constructive birding. Some of the places I’m thinking about, but not written in stone are:

  1. Escapule wash and San Pedro River
  2. Hunter Canyon
  3. Paton Center For Hummingbirds ( this one is written in stone)

If any of my readers have any suggestions to visit other places just drop me a line in the comments section. I will get back with a reply. All help will be appreciated.

 

Photographic Nemesis

For a number of years now, at least since I’ve started taking pictures of birds, the American Kestrel has been one of those birds I’ve not had a lot of luck with. The smallest of the North Americas falcon species I see them all the time. Around where I live you’ll see them on electrical lines overlooking farm land. Now it’s one thing to see them from the quiet confines of your car, and it’s another to sneak up on foot to get a picture. They typically fly away if anyone gets close.

Today I was visiting Fernald Preserve to check out the ponds for waterfowl. And while I was driving through the preserve I noticed a American kestrel teed up on a small tree with the sun hitting it almost perfectly. So I pulled my car over and crept closer trying to get a good angle on the Kestrel. Now if I was on foot I never would have been able to get close, but being in a car awarded me with some really good looks.

2019: A Year In Review

Let me first start out this year in review with an apology to all my readers. I’ve not been a very good blogger and have lagged behind in posting anything of interest. Some of this was due to my broken ankle at the end of Spring and lasting through the Summer. Those weeks that I was laid up kept me both from birding and blogging. Compounding this was a couple bouts of having the cold, which as a member of the senior population takes longer to get over. With that being said lets put this year behind us and hope that 2020 is a better year both for you personally, and birding.

For myself 2019 was a pretty good year for birds. I was able to add 11 new birds to my life list, with the latest being a Prairie Falcon that’s been hanging out in the flat farm land west of Bowling Green Ohio. I picked up that bird yesterday.

Below are 6 of the 11 new birds spotted in 2019, and if it wasn’t for our family vacation to Maine my yearly number would be significantly lower.

  • Common Eider
  • Sooty Shearwater
  • Great Shearwater
  • Atlantic Puffin
  • Northern Fulmer
  • Black Guillemot
  • Great Cormorant

For the greatest distance driven by car to tick off a new bird lies with the now famous Tufted Duck of Fennville Michigan.

back on April 28th I drove one way 335 miles to check this bird off my life list. Did this seem excessive driving just for 1 bird? Sure it was. However it was worth the drive to see a bird that I’ll probably never see again.

Most satisfying Bird of 2019: Well that honor goes to the Red Phalarope that I was able to check off the old Life List on November 3rd. Now I’m finally able to check off all North American Phalarope species with this beautiful bird that was spotted at Brookville Lake in Indiana.

For the 2 most surprising new birds of 2019 would have to be the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and the Prairie Falcon. Even though I don’t have any photos of these birds, they are without a doubt the most surprising birds that I never would expect to see this year.

As I reflect on 2019 I can’t help but to look forward to 2020, which will prove to be the most “birdiest” year to date. In the past I’ve had some very good years for birds but this coming year should put me past a personal milestone of 500 ABA birds.

In the next few weeks I’ll start making plans on going to the Southwest Wings Spring Fling in Sierra Vista Arizona. Long have I wanted to visit Arizona for their abundance of great birds. Like my trip to the Rio Grande Birding Festival, this trip should push me past the 500 mark for total birds.

If for some reason I don’t reach 500 by the end of that trip, I have yet another trip that will tip it into my favor. My eldest son is getting married on Oahu Hawaii in November. I’ll be there for 2 weeks. I can only imagine the birds I’ll be seeing.

These two trips have my brain on overdrive. After the holidays are over then I can start to concentrate on the task at hand. Study the birds and their songs and calls. I need to prepare. And it’s this preparation that makes us better birders.

With 2019 almost in the past, let us look forward to a better 2020, and better birds.

Happy New Year to you all.

 

Notes From The Field

While at Caesar Creek State Park yesterday I was scanning the lake from various locations to see if any waterfowl was starting to show up. For the most part all the action was centered around all the Bonaparte’s Gulls as they hovered over the lake as Common Loons stirred up all the little bait fish.

My last stop was a boat ramp and what caught my eye were all the American Pipits feeding along the edge. I was able to pull close with my car and snap off a few pretty nice shots.

” On The Road” for Life Bird #464

Treaty Line Road, Liberty Indiana

Phalaropus fulicarius, or commonly known as Red Phalarope has been kind of a pseudo-nemesis bird for me. I feel it’s the most difficult bird of the 3 Phalarope species to spot inland no matter what time of the year it is. I’ll hear about sightings of them along Lake Erie, however those sightings seem to be of birds in flight as they’re passing through during migration. Last year in the Autumn we had a particularly strong storm that came out of the north with north to south winds. A Red Phalarope dropped in at the beach at East Fork State Park for the remainder  of the day, and by the time I got there early the next day it was gone.

So needless to say searching out this particular species would be pointless around where I live, and opportunities aren’t necessarily showing up, it came as quite a surprise to read on the Indiana Rare Bird Alert that one dropped in at the mudflats along Treaty Line Road. And it doesn’t surprise me that it would be here, because this spot can be Hot, with a capitol “H”.

Having read the post Saturday evening I told myself that it’s probably just another one day wonder and it’ll be gone by the morning. But when morning came along during my second cup of coffee I read that it stayed through the night. Off I went on another chase.

The drive over was uneventful even though my stupid GPS took me all on back roads and with hardly any gas left in the tank I limped in a gas station in Liberty Indiana. A couple of minutes after hanging up the nozzle I turned onto  Treaty Line Road. You have to drive almost to the end before you’re able to view the mudflats. The lack of cars at the viewing area wasn’t a good sign. I noticed a pick-up that had turned around and was heading back. I stopped and aked if he was there for the Phalarope and did he see it. He did and then he said it had flown off. My heart sank and I felt sicker than I already was.

I was still going to check it out. It was a long drive and worth the effort I thought. David, the guy in the pick-up truck, had a familiar name and one I’d seen with postings on Facebook. We struck up a conversation while I got my spotting scope up and started to scan. It took no more than a few minutes before I was able to re-locate the bird. JACKPOT!

The bird was really far of and these 2 photos don’t do any justice to the actual bird. But it’s a far cry better than having no pictures, like the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper that I saw a week or so ago.

There’s Always A First Time

I’m a pretty avid reader of the ABA Blog, and I always love reading the Rare Bird Report. All those really cool birds that people spot and take photos of that are always in other people’s back yards, never yours. Now one bird I’ve seen reports on through the years was of the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Usually you read about these birds while folks are birding in Alaska somewhere. Never in a million years would one show up, at least not literally, in my back yard.

This last Saturday my wife and myself were on our way to Detroit to baby sit our Grandson while our daughter and husband ran in the Detroit Marathon on Sunday. While getting settled in on Saturday afternoon I opened up Facebook at the various  birding pages I belong to, and lo and behold, someone spotted a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (ABA Code 3) at Killdeer Plains NWR northwest of Columbus. I’ve birded there before and it’s massive, covering 9,000 acres.

The predicament I was in was that I didn’t have any of my gear. No binoculars, spotting scope, or camera. Why would you carry all this when you’re just going to babysit? The bird stayed around Saturday and Sunday. and as Monday dawned I told my wife we’re taking a side trip to look for the bird. With a bird like this there were going to be plenty of birders that would take pity on me.

When we stopped in Bowling Green to grab some coffee I checked Facebook again, and sure enough the bird was still there. It took another 2 hours to get to Killdeer Plains because everything was pretty much 2 lane roads all the way there.

I found a lady who felt sorry for me and let me look through her scope, and there it was. Life Bird #463

Sorry, no pictures.