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Thursday, August 4, 2016


On Monday, August 1, Christina and I flew home from Los Angeles.  I had planned on seeing Brown Pelican from our hotel room balcony, and I had seen them every time I had looked all weekend.  Not on Monday, though.  Not a one.  That was my planned Monday bird, and it was a no show.  Oops.  Fortunately, I had a back-up.  I saw several Western Gulls from the balcony, and I needed that one on Monday, too.  That was my last day for Western Gull, so that one is now completed.  The gull brought me to 158 species for Monday.


Back at home on Tuesday, August 2, I went down to my local park, Juanita Bay Park, to try to get a Tuesday bird.  I played the song of Golden-crowned Kinglet and three of them soon flew in to check me out.  I was glad to see that at least one species will still respond to playback, even in August when the breeding season is over.  The kinglet brought me to 159 species for Tuesday and also completed that species for the year - seen on all seven days of the week now.


On Wednesday, August 3, I again went down to Juanita Bay Park, this time to try for Virginia Rail.  I played the various calls and eventually got three separate responses at three different times.  I tried to see one, but couldn’t lure one close enough to see.  Rails are secretive birds and usually stay in deep brush, so they're difficult to actually see.  The calls of Virginia Rail are very distinctive and very loud, though, so it's a lot easier to hear them, providing they are being responsive.  The rail brought me to 169 species for Wednesday.


This morning, Thursday, August 4, I went up to the so-called South Pond in Bothell to look for Green Heron.  It's really getting much harder to find a new species for my day list, and some days are harder than others, of course.  When I first arrived I saw a Great Blue Heron where a Green Heron has been before, but then I saw a Green Heron a short distance away from the Blue.  It was a really beautiful morning and the light was great from where I was standing, so I took a lot of pictures of the two herons.  It seems like I've shown a lot of pictures of both Green Heron and Great Blue Heron lately, but I couldn’t resist the great light and the beautiful birds.


First the Green Heron, my bird for Thursday this week.  Here it is preening.


When it stopped preening I got this shot.


It sat down, which is something I don't recall ever seeing a Green Heron do before.


After a while it got up again and started moving around.  Here it is standing again.


It walked off that branch and onto another one that was closer to the water.


Then it went on alert, seeming to see something in the water.


It held that pose for a minute or so, and then struck, coming up with some kind of fish or eel or something long and wiggly.


It took its prize out of sight, up onto land, I think, maybe so it couldn't swim away while it got it ready to swallow.  Herons swallow their prey whole.  So, there is a little study of a Green Heron on a beautiful summer morning.


Here are some pictures of the Great Blue Heron as it moved around a little, giving different views.


Usually I see Great Blue Herons standing upright, but sometimes they stand like this.


Here's a front view.


And finally, here is a picture taken through an opening in the branches and brush between me and the bird.


The Green Heron today completed that species and brought me to 159 species for Thursday.  I've now completed (recorded on all 7 days of the week) 97 species.  My total for the year to date is 249 species.  Here is my scorecard at this point, after 28 weeks ( I took three weeks off for medical reasons, earlier in the year).


After                 Fri        Sat       Sun      Mon      Tue       Wed     Thu


4 wks                51         47         55         53         44         55         52

8 wks                57         60         73         67         69         79         68

12 wks              90         87         82         81         96         100       95

16 wks              100       105       106       114       111       111       107

20 wks              122       114       120       125       133       140       136

24 wks              141       138       145       150       155       162       152

25 wks              147       141       146       153       156       164       153

26 wks              158       152       154       156       157       167       154

27 wks              159       153       155       157       158       168       158

28 wks              180       169       180       158       159       169       159


You can really see the jump in the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday totals - that's a result of my trip to the L.A. area last weekend.


I don't know how much longer I can keep this streak going - that of getting a new day-bird for each day so far this year.  I never imagined I would go anywhere near this long.  The Day-Of-The-Week Birding thing has been a huge success for me.  It has gotten me out birding every single day this year, other than the three weeks that medical things kept me home (or in the hospital).  I have really enjoyed doing the planning and strategizing to keep the streak going.  I always enjoy taking pictures and writing reports, and the more I go out birding, the more pictures and reports I get to enjoy.  I also have learned more about my local birding sites and the seasonal movements of the local birds.  Travel adds to the opportunities, and DOTW Birding gives me a good excuse to do a little traveling.


My streak is about to run out, though, and there aren't many birds left that I'm likely to see on any given day.  I'm also getting kind of tired of it for now.  This isn't the most interesting stage, when the best I can hope for is to add one more bird to the day's list, or possibly two if I'm really lucky.  I'm trying to decide if I should just retire while the streak lives or if I should play it out to the bitter end - that is, until I get skunked one day.  I might be able to keep it going for another week, but not likely two more weeks, unless I suddenly decide to travel somewhere.  We'll see.  I hate to just quit on something that has been so much fun, though, so I expect I'll keep trying to extend the streak until I get skunked.  That could be any time now.


Another reason to quit is that I'm trying seriously to improve my heel problem.  Driving and walking hurts it, and birding involves both of those things.  I've got a tear in my Achilles tendon that extends across a third of it, at the point where it attaches to the heel.  I started Physical Therapy yesterday, and I don't know if the walking and driving will help me or hurt me in my attempt to make it heal, or at least hurt less.  We shall see.  I guess I'll take it one day at a time, and maybe I'll get skunked very soon, and that would give me a good excuse to take a little vacation from birding.



Monday, August 8, 2016


On Friday, August 5, I went over to Lake Forest Park to try to pick up Band-tailed Pigeon for my Friday list.  I'm running out of easy birds to get on most days, and I had been "saving" Band-tailed Pigeon on two or three days for when I might need to take it.  I know of a house in Lake Forest Park with bird feeders, and there is a small flock of Band-tailed Pigeons that feed there and hang around the neighborhood.


When I got there, I saw one immediately in the bare top of a tree.  Score!  I set up to take a picture from the car, but the bird flew just as I was ready.  So, here's a Band-tailed Pigeon just after it took off to fly down to the feeders.


That one disappeared from sight and I didn’t see any others around, so I got lucky with my timing, I guess.  I went home after that, but as it turned out, that afternoon I was sitting on the front porch and a female Black-headed Grosbeak was on our feeder.  I haven't seen a grosbeak there for weeks, and it so happened that Friday was the last day I needed Black-headed Grosbeak, so I ended up getting two Friday birds that day.  That completed Black-headed Grosbeak for me.  It's interesting I hadn't seen one in Yosemite on the Friday we were there this year, because they are quite common there.  Anyway, that brought me to 182 species for Friday.


On Saturday, August 6, I still needed Marsh Wren, so I went down to Juanita Bay Park and played their song in a couple of places.  Earlier in the year they were always very responsive to playback there, but it took a long time before I finally saw one.  It stayed down in the reeds but as it flitted around, I did get a couple of pictures from an odd angle - above the bird.



I'm not sure if those two pictures are of the same bird because there were two of them eventually.  I was happy to get my Saturday bird, but then I noticed some swallows overhead.  One of them was different, and I decided it was a Vaux's Swift, an excellent one to get for Saturday, since I don't see them very often.  Then, in an embarrassment of riches, I spotted another one I don't see often, an Orange-crowned Warbler.  That was three Saturday birds, to bring Saturday to 172 species.


On Sunday, August 7, I thought I needed three different "peeps", which is what birders call the smallest group of sandpipers.  All three, including the rare one, had been reported at the Edmond's Marsh that week, so I headed up there.  Shorebirds are just starting their fall migration, and they have started coming through this area.  As it turned out, I actually had counted Western Sandpiper last week at Bolsa Chica wetlands in Southern California, but the one and only peep I saw at the Edmonds Marsh on Sunday was a Least Sandpiper, so I was good.  Western's are more common than Leasts here, so it was fortunate that I got it.  The third possible peep is Semipalmated Sandpiper, and they're pretty rare, so I wasn't expecting to get that one.  My single lucky Least Sandpiper brought me to 181 species for Sunday.


Today, Monday, August 8, I went down to Juanita Bay Park in a drizzle to try for Virginia Rail.  I had heard them the last two times I was there, so I was optimistic.  I played the calls and eventually I got one loud response, so that one went on to my Monday list.  I went home after that and took care of some other business (including buying a new car for Christina, a story in itself).  Then late this afternoon I saw a Cooper's Hawk in our yard, on the ground.  I managed to sneak out to the garage to get my camera out of my car and then got a couple of pictures of the hawk before it flew off.  Here is a Cooper's Hawk in our yard, a nice close shot.


Here is another picture.  It was about the size of an average sized crow.


That made two Monday birds for me, to bring me to 160 species for Monday.


I should be able to get through the next couple of days, but by the end of the week it's going to be tough to keep the streak going.  We'll see how long I can keep it up.



Thursday, August 11, 2016


On Tuesday, August 9, I went down to Juanita Bay Park to try for Virginia Rail.  Earlier in the year they were very vocal in response to playback, but for the last few weeks they haven't been nearly as responsive.  I tried the usual spot on the eastern boardwalk, where I had heard them two or three times in the last week, but never could get a response from one.  Next I tried the western boardwalk, but got no responses there either at first.  I did see a little flock of Bushtits, which I didn’t need for Tuesday.  I got a couple of pictures of a female Bushtit, anyway.



I particularly like that second picture.  Female Bushtits have light-colored eyes and males have dark-colored eyes, but otherwise they look the same.  They flit around so actively that it is hard to get a decent picture, which makes me all the happier with these two pics.


Finally, as I was leaving the western boardwalk, I heard a feeble, distant call that I was pretty sure was a Virginia Rail.  I debated about whether to count it and moved on to the old highway where it goes over the end of the bay.  It has been turned into a walking and biking path now.  I again tried playing the Virginia Rail calls, but got no response.  I didn't see anything else of interest either.


I was planning on reluctantly counting the Virginia Rail that I had heard, but after lunch with my friend, Chris, we went to Phantom Lake in Bellevue, as usual.  We had heard Virginia Rail there before, so I played the calls and we got a distinct response from close by.  That made me feel a lot better about counting it for my Tuesday bird.  That brought me to 160 species for Tuesday.


On Wednesday, August 10, I had a lot of things to take care of and I didn’t go birding in the morning.  My friend Dan was coming over for lunch, and I planned to go look for a Wednesday bird with him.  After we had lunch and took care of a couple of little jobs I had around the house, we drove up to Edmonds to look for Heermann's Gull.  There were more people around than I had ever seen there.  I think it was because it was sunny and it was the afternoon.  Usually I'm up there in the morning.  There were lots of people at Marina Beach, but no Heermann's Gulls.  It was crowded in the parking lot at the senior center, on the waterfront, but I found a place to park and got out to take a look.  There were other gulls around, but then I spotted a Heermann's Gull flying around the ferry pilings.  I got a good look at it, with its smoky dark back, white head, and red bill.  That brought me to 170 species for Wednesday.


Today, Thursday, August 11, I drove back up to Edmonds and went to the marsh.  I was looking for a small sandpiper there.  The tide was out, so there was lots of mud, and I soon spotted some little sandpipers.  I ended up seeing three species.  Least Sandpiper, which I didn't need for Thursday, has yellow legs, and there were several of those running around feeding.  Others had black legs and medium long, slightly drooping bills, and those were Western Sandpipers, which is the species I needed for Thursday - the one I was looking for.  As a bonus, there was at least one with black legs that seemed different, and when I looked closely I realized it had a shorter, straight bill, indicating it was a Semipalmated Sandpiper, an uncommon species I don't see very often.  It was the first Semipalmated Sandpiper I had ever seen in Snohomish county.   The two little peeps brought me to 161 species for Thursday.


Since it is Thursday and the end of another week of my DOTW birding thing, it's time for my latest report card.


After                 Fri        Sat       Sun      Mon      Tue       Wed     Thu


4 wks                51         47         55         53         44         55         52

8 wks                57         60         73         67         69         79         68

12 wks              90         87         82         81         96         100       95

16 wks              100       105       106       114       111       111       107

20 wks              122       114       120       125       133       140       136

24 wks              141       138       145       150       155       162       152

25 wks              147       141       146       153       156       164       153

26 wks              158       152       154       156       157       167       154

27 wks              159       153       155       157       158       168       158

28 wks              180       169       180       158       159       169       159

29 wks              182       172       181       160       160       170       161


As you can see, each day increased again this week, so my streak is alive still.  Tomorrow is going to be very tough, and it very well might see the end of the streak.


I now have 249 species for the year, and I've seen 100 species on each of the seven days of the week.  We'll see if I can get a new Friday bird tomorrow.  I have some possibilities, especially Purple Martin, but I'm afraid it's getting a bit late in the year to see Purple Martins at their nest boxes at the north end of Lake Sammamish.  If their young have all fledged, then they might have all spread out and moved on.  If I can't find a Purple Martin, I have a few other possibilities, but none I would call likely.



Friday, August 12, 2016


This was going to be my tough day - the one that might end my streak.  This morning there was a report on Tweeters, though, of a Solitary Sandpiper up in the town of Snohomish, which is about a half hour north of here.  That would make an excellent Friday bird (and I could save Purple Martin for next week, if they stick around that long), so I headed north at about 9:20.  The directions were kind of vague (to me, anyway, since I didn't know the area), but I found Fobe Road and drove its length.  I was looking for a causeway, since the bird had been reported to be in the mud to the right of the causeway.  Well, I got to the end of Fobe Road and hadn't seen any causeway.  I turned around and slowly made my way back.  I was looking for a place to pull over and look at Google Maps on my phone to see if there was another part of Fobe Road nearby.  I was also looking closely for any sign of mud or water.


I happened to notice a couple of cars off to the side, on the other side of some bushes and trees.  They seemed to be on some kind of road.  I went looking for access to that road, and a little farther down Fobes Road there was an unmarked, unpaved access road through the bushes, so I took it.  It led to a small parking area with the two cars I had seen from the road.  There was a locked gate, but you could go around it onto a causeway!  Bingo!


I walked out onto the causeway and there was a small amount of mud on the right after about 40 or 50 yards.  I didn't see any birds as I approached, but then I saw there was a single shorebird there, foraging around in the mud.  It was indeed a Solitary Sandpiper, a really excellent bird to get any time, but especially welcome today, when my Friday-bird possibilities were so few.  It was only the second time I have ever seen Solitary Sandpiper, so it was an "almost-lifer".  It was also a first for me in Washington State, since I had seen the other one in the San Diego area.  The light was great and the bird was pretty close, so I took some pictures.  Here is my unlikely Friday-bird, Solitary Sandpiper.


It came even closer for this shot.


And one more because it was such a great bird to get.


That was all very exciting and satisfying and I came home.  My unlikely, spur-of-the-moment twitch paid off.  The guy who posted the sighting at 8:20 this morning posted again at about 10:40 and said the bird wasn't in sight any longer.  I had been there at 10:00 and I got it.  Timing means a lot in birding.  That brought me to 183 species for Friday and 250 for the year.


My biggest news today, though, is that I'm now planning a short trip to Arizona next week.  I got this idea last night and have already booked my air flights.  It will be just nine nights in Southeast Arizona and I leave next Friday.  I'm very enthused about it, and that's important because I haven't felt this enthused about a trip for a while.  It's short, there are great birds there, and I can travel first class with Frequent Flyer miles on Alaska.  August is hot in Arizona, but not as bad as July; they get thunderstorms in the afternoons frequently, and that holds the heat down and things will be at least a little green from the recent rains.  Phoenix has had floods in the last week, in fact.  It'll be in the high 80's probably, but I'll just hide in my air conditioned rental car or my air-conditioned room as much as I need to.  I'm flying into Phoenix rather than Tucson because of airline schedules and availability of first class award seats.  That'll mean an extra two hours of driving each way, but it seems worth it to me.


Now the trick will be to keep my DOTW birding streak alive until next Friday.  If I can do that, then when I get back from the trip I'll only be three days away from the end of August.  Now I just need to get a new bird each day for the next week, including next Friday, which is my toughest day of the week.  That's why the Solitary Sandpiper today was especially welcome - I was able to save Purple Martin and Brown Creeper for next Friday, before I head for the airport for my 3:20 flight to Phoenix.


What a life!



Saturday, August 13, 2016


Last night I looked at the possibilities for today, and I realized my chances were even less than my chances yesterday.  I basically needed Brown Creeper or Bushtit, with some other longshots.  There was one other possibility, though, and I looked at eBird this morning for recent sightings around here.  (eBird is an online database of reports from birders all over the world, and you can search it by species, location, date, etc.  I use it all the time and it's an absolutely essential resource for the kind of birding and list making that I do.).  That other possibility was Lesser Yellowlegs, which is rather uncommon, but a few are coming through here now on migration.


This morning, Saturday, August 13, I headed down to my local park, Juanita Bay Park, to look for Brown Creeper.  In the winter and the spring they were responsive to playback, but they don't seem to be so now.  Nonetheless, I played their songs as I walked around the parking lot area where I know they live all year round.  I didn't see or hear anything, though.  I could have walked around the park in the hope of seeing a flock of Bushtits.  I had seem them there earlier this week, but that seemed unlikely to succeed.  Bushtits move around constantly and there is no way to predict where they might show up at any given time.  I was as likely to see a flock at the park as at home, or anywhere else I might be, so I decided to move on.


My next stop was the Redmond Retention Ponds.  I had gone there four or five times a few weeks ago, looking for Lesser Yellowlegs and other species.  I never saw a Lesser Yellowlegs there, but there were two reports of them there in the last week.  The last report was two days ago, but shorebirds on migration sometimes stick around for a few days, getting their strength up before moving on.  If that had failed, my next stop was going to be Marymoor Park in the hopes of seeing Willow Flycatcher or maybe a flock of Bushtits or even a Brown Creeper.  None of those were likely, though.


When I got to the Retention Ponds, I soon saw a shorebird on the near side of the main pond.  It was indeed a Yellowlegs, and I eventually was sure it was a Lesser Yellowlegs.  There was even a second one around, and they would interact from time to time, when the second one would fly into the area where the first one was and the first one would chase it off.  When they flew and interacted, they vocalized and the calls confirmed the identification, too.  Here are some pictures of the pair of lovely Lesser Yellowlegs that saved my streak today.


Similar species are Spotted Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, and Solitary Sandpiper (the uncommon bird I got on my twitch yesterday).  Spotted Sandpiper has much shorter legs and a white triangle in front of the wings.  Greater Yellowlegs is much larger and has a bill that is longer relative to the size of the head.  Solitary Sandpiper has legs that are more greenish-yellow and also are shorter than a yellowlegs above the knee.  The bill length and the bright yellow legs were enough to determine that this one was a Lesser Yellowlegs.


Here's a picture I like because of the reflection.


Here is a front view.  It shows how long the legs are, although the reflection makes them look ridiculously long.


One of the two birds came really close to me, closer than I've ever been to a yellowlegs before.  It made me realize what a delicate little bird Lesser Yellowlegs is.


Here is one final picture of one of the Lesser Yellowlegs from today.


Now I have 173 species for Saturday.


I looked at the next six days, and it looks pretty good for me to keep the streak alive until I fly down to Arizona on Friday next week.  No guarantees, but each day I have at least one fairly easy species to get, other than next Friday.  I have some chances then, but it will be risky.  If I don't get anything before I fly away on Friday afternoon, there is an outside chance I could get a bird on Friday in Arizona.  It will be about sundown by the time I get to my hotel, but maybe I could get some common Arizona bird (White-winged Dove seems most likely) before it got too dark.  I'm hoping I can get something next Friday morning, though, before I leave.  Keeping the streak going in Arizona will be a cinch.  I think I'll be adding at least ten birds a day to each day as I go along, maybe a lot more sometimes.  It's going to be a different kind of trip this time - I'll be concentrating on my DOTW thing, not on increasing my trip list or my year list.  That will mean finding places with lots of birds and then going back there repeatedly, to add them to other days.  In other words, like I did in Los Angeles, when I went back to Bolsa Chica every day to get the easy ones there.  I also plan to take it easy on the trip, keeping out of the sun and walking as little as possible.


The beat goes on.



Tuesday, August 16, 2016


On Sunday, August 14, I went over to the Redmond Retention Ponds to look for Lesser Yellowlegs.  Here is a picture of two of the ponds from the hill to the east of them.  I noticed when I processed these pictures that my camera had a smudge on the lens, which you can see on the right side of the larger pond in that picture.


There is access from a street to the left of that picture, and it's a short walk to get this view of the big pond.


When I got there I found a car in my normal parking place, and it turned out that a couple of other birders were there, Hank and Karen.  I have seen their reports on eBird and on Tweeters, and I had exchanged emails with Hank a couple of times, but this was the first time we had met.  As we looked at the birds, we had a good old birder's chin-wag.


There were Lesser Yellowlegs there, I was glad to see, so Sunday was taken care of right away.  There were at least three Lesser Yellowlegs and 2 or 3 Greater Yellowlegs as well.  They all kept flying around and interacting, so it was hard to keep track of them.  Here is a picture of a Lesser Yellowlegs.


Here's another picture of the same bird from the front.


The bill length identifies it as a Lesser Yellowlegs rather than a Greater Yellowlegs, as does it's size (which is hard to tell in an isolated picture).  That brought me to 182 species for Sunday.


On Monday, August 15, I went up to Edmonds.  I knew I could get Heermann's Gull on the waterfront there, but I wanted to try to get a more difficult Monday bird if I could.  I went to Yost Park and walked around for about an hour, playing songs of four species that I'm sure are there.  I never saw or heard any of them, though, so I went on down to the waterfront and picked up my Heermann's gull for my Monday bird.  That brought me to 161 species for Monday.


Today, Tuesday, August 16, I drove up to the Everett waterfront to look for Caspian Tern.  I knew they were there, but I had never been there before.  I found the terns easily, but none were ever close enough for pictures.  The tide was out so there was a lot of mud and sand, and I looked for shorebirds.  Here is a picture of the mudflats at the Everett waterfront.


The smudge was still on my lens at that point.  I saw a bird on one of those pilings, and got my scope out.  It was a swallow, but I wasn't able to tell what species.  I think it was a juvenile Cliff Swallow, but I'm not sure at all.  Here is a distant, blurry picture of the unknown swallow.


It was sitting on the closest piling on the right of the picture above, so you can see that it was a challenge for my little point-and-shoot camera.  I couldn't even see the bird with the naked eye.


There is a huge public boat launch there, next to a little park.  A small passenger ferry takes people over to Jetty Island, which you can see in the distance in my picture above, in the right half of the picture.  It's a very short boat ride, just across a channel.  There were several groups of kids there, mostly wearing the same color T-shirts.  It had to be some kind of day camp or maybe several of them, and the accompanying adults herded them onto the boat, which runs about every half hour at that time of day.


There were lots of Ospreys around, with several nests in view and several recently fledged young ones flying around.  I also spotted a large group of well over 100 Western Sandpipers, foraging in the mud and sand.  They would flush from time to time and wheel around for a minute, then land somewhere else.  I looked at them through my scope and I thought that some of them might have been Semipalmated Sandpipers, but I ended up deciding that I just couldn't tell.  The difference are minor, and I'm not very familiar with Semipalmated Sandpiper, which is much less common than Western Sandpiper.


Another old geezer drove up and got out, carrying a camera with a huge lens.  We chatted for a while about the local birds, but I think he was more of a photographer than a birder.


I hung around the waterfront for about an hour altogether, and the Caspian Terns I saw kept my streak alive and brought me to 161 species for Tuesday.


My flight to Arizona is on Friday afternoon, so I have just three more days to keep my streak alive, if I am to head off on the nine day trip with the streak still alive.  I need Lesser Yellowlegs on each of those three days, so if they have stuck around at the Redmond Retention Ponds and stay until Friday, I'll have it made.  They might very well move on, though, so I'm not counting my chickens yet. 


I have the Arizona trip all planned and booked now, and I'm looking forward to visiting those places again.  I have been there twice before, in 2011 and 2015, but both of those trips were much longer and were in May.  The temperatures will be in the high 80's and maybe even low 90's, and I plan to take it easy this time.  Because of my heel, which is doing much better than 3 or 4 weeks ago, I don't plan to do much walking.  My focus will be on adding to each day's DOTW list, not on getting year-birds or lifers, but I have a shot at 4 lifers that I know of.  I won't get all of them, but I hope to get 2 or 3 of them.  Lifers are very hard for me to get these days, because I'm not traveling to new places, so even two lifers would be great and three would be outstanding. 


I also hope to add at least 50 birds to my year list on the trip, which would bring it to 300.  Remember that goal.  It will be one I'll mention again.  I have 250 year-birds now, and I hope to come home from Arizona with over 300.  We shall see.  First things first, though, and first I need to keep the streak alive for another three days here at home.  If the Lesser Yellowlegs let me down, then I have other easy options for Wednesday and Thursday (Caspian Tern at Everett), but Friday will be difficult if the Lesser Yellowlegs don't cooperate.



Wednesday, August 17, 2016


This morning I went over to the Redmond Retention Ponds to see if any of the Lesser Yellowlegs had stuck around.  As I arrived I saw a deer drinking from the pond.  Here are a couple of pictures.



In that second picture you can actually see a yellowlegs on the right side in the water, and I think it was a Lesser Yellowlegs.  There was another Lesser Yellowlegs much closer, though, and I got these two pictures today.



So, the streak is alive, and I now have 171 species for Wednesday.  We'll see if the Lesser Yellowlegs will stick around for another couple of days, so I can go off to Arizona with the streak still going.



Thursday, August 18, 2016


I expected today to be routine, with a quick trip over to the Redmond Retention Ponds to pick up Lesser Yellowlegs again, assuming that at least one of them was still there.


I soon saw at least three yellowlegs and at least two of them were Lesser Yellowlegs, so I had accomplished my mission.  One of the Lesser Yellowlegs seemed to be hanging near a Greater Yellowlegs, so I decided to try for a picture of them together.


First, here is what I think is a Greater Yellowlegs, although it seemed like a small one to me and the bill seemed shorter than some Greater Yellowlegs.  It was sort of an In-Between Yellowlegs, it seemed to me, but I'm calling it a Greater.


Here is a Lesser Yellowlegs for comparison.


I measured the bill on the first one as being about 1.3 times the length of the head.  On the second one, the bill seems about the same length as the head.  My field guide says that the bill of Greater Yellowlegs is about 1.5 times the length of the head, which is why I facetiously called it an In-Between Yellowlegs.  Here is a picture of those two birds in the same shot.


The one on the left seems to me to clearly be larger.


A little later I got this picture of the one I'm calling a Greater Yellowlegs taking off and calling.


The call seemed to me like the call of Greater Yellowlegs, rather than Lesser.  You can see a smaller shorebird on the right side of the picture, but it seems a lot smaller than the Greater Yellowlegs, rather than just a bit smaller, like in the previous picture.


Then I got this picture still later, after the Greater had come back to that area.


The bird on the right is clearly a lot larger than the one on the left.  Here is another picture of those same two birds.


The size difference is obvious, but the bird on the left has some other characteristics, too.  Here is another shot of the smaller one on the left.


I think that picture is of a Solitary Sandpiper, not a Lesser Yellowlegs.  I had thought it was a Lesser Yellowlegs at the time, but when I saw my pictures, I saw some differences.  Solitary Sandpiper has a larger white eye ring than Lesser Yellowlegs and the legs are greenish, rather than bright yellow.  Solitary Sandpipers also have a more solid brown neck, as opposed to a streaky neck.  The real topper is that the legs of Lesser Yellowlegs are longer above the knee than the legs of Solitary Sandpiper.  As for size, Greater Yellowlegs is supposed to be about 14 inches long, from tip of tail to tip of bill; Lesser Yellowlegs is 10 inches long; and Solitary Sandpiper is 8 inches long.  Here is a bird that I'm sure is a Lesser Yellowlegs for comparison to that last picture.


The eye ring is not as broad, the neck is streaked, the legs are bright yellow, and the legs are somewhat longer above the knee than on the bird in the previous picture.  The white spots on the wings are different, too, especially toward the back of the bird.  Here is a picture I took last Friday up at Snohomish, and I'm sure that this one is a Solitary Sandpiper.


It has the larger eye ring, the more greenish colored legs, and the shorter leg length above the knee, like the bird I saw today that I'm calling a Solitary Sandpiper.  The white spots on the wings are the same, too, unlike the ones on the Lesser Yellowlegs.  The bill color seems to match as well.  Here is one more shot of today's Lesser Yellowlegs, showing the leg length above the knee especially well.


So, on the strength of that evidence, I'm counting Solitary Sandpiper today, as well as Lesser Yellowlegs.


There were also two Least Sandpipers there today, and here is a picture of one of them.


There are always several Killdeer around the pond, too, so here is a picture of a Killdeer, my fourth shorebird at the pond today.


Lesser Yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpiper brought me to 163 species for Thursday.  Here's my weekly report of my DOTW birding project.


After                 Fri        Sat       Sun      Mon      Tue       Wed     Thu


4 wks                51         47         55         53         44         55         52

8 wks                57         60         73         67         69         79         68

12 wks              90         87         82         81         96         100       95

16 wks              100       105       106       114       111       111       107

20 wks              122       114       120       125       133       140       136

24 wks              141       138       145       150       155       162       152

28 wks              180       169       180       158       159       169       159

29 wks              182       172       181       160       160       170       161

30 wks              183       173       182       161       161       171       163


My streak is still alive.  Each day increased again this week.  Note that each day only went up by one species this week, until today, when the unexpected Solitary Sandpiper made it two for today.  It is getting harder and harder to find new species locally to add to my day's list.  If I weren't heading out to Arizona tomorrow, I would probably get skunked one day this coming week.  I have 250 species for the year now.  I hope to get that up to over 300 by the time I get back from Arizona, and each day should increase by a lot (maybe 20 to 30, or even more).  There are at least five possibilities for lifers on the trip, too, and I hope to get at least three of those.  I haven't had a lifer yet this year.


Now I just need to get through my travel day tomorrow with a new species.  I'll be getting to my hotel in Phoenix about sundown, I think, if all goes well, and it would be pretty hard to get anything there at that time of day, without a car, so I need to find a new Friday species tomorrow morning locally here.  I'm hoping that at least one of the Lesser Yellowlegs will hang around just one more day at the retention ponds, and that will take care of me.  If I can't find a Lesser Yellowlegs there tomorrow, then I'll have to go down to Marymoor Park and try to find a more difficult species there.  I can probably get Purple Martin there, but it is kind of a long walk on my poor heel, so I'm hoping that I can get Lesser Yellowlegs again.



Friday, August 19, 2016


This morning I went over to the Redmond Retention Ponds, as planned.  Two of the Lesser Yellowlegs did stick around, so I completed that one today for my Friday list.  It is an uncommon species around here, but I have it on all seven days of the week now.  Here is a picture of a Lesser Yellowlegs for today.


Today there were two Solitary Sandpipers, too.  Here are a couple of pictures of Solitary Sandpiper, taken today, for comparison to the Lesser Yellowlegs above.



And, for a size comparison, here is a picture of a Lesser Yellowlegs (10.5 inches long) and a Solitary Sandpiper(8.5 inches long).  The yellowlegs is closer to the camera.


There was also a Spotted Sandpiper there today, along with three Least Sandpipers.  Here is a picture of the Spotted Sandpiper (7.5 inches long) and the three Least Sandpipers (6 inches long).


I like the colors of the water in that picture.


Lesser Yellowlegs brings me to 184 species for Friday, my highest-total day.  I head off to Arizona this afternoon, and I won’t send this out until I see if I get any new Friday birds when I get there about sundown.


I had a fine trip down to Phoenix, although it was a bit turbulent for the last 40 minutes.  I used frequent flyer miles and flew first class, so it was much better than a regular coach trip.  I had to wait out in the 102 degree heat, in the sun, for half an hour for the hotel shuttle.  I now wish I had spent 20 bucks and taken a cab.


Anyway, no birds down here yet, so I’ll close this off.  Tomorrow, after I pick up a rental car, I start the birding with a visit to a local park where it is supposed to be easy to see a lifer parrot.  Then it is a two and half hour drive to Madera Canyon, where I hope to get a number of new year-birds.  Tonight I’m watching the Mariners on my computer, courtesy of Dish Network and my home DVR setup.  I can sit here in my hotel room and watch anything I could watch at home, including recorded shows and live TV, using the hotel’s internet connection.  Technology is amazing.



Saturday, August 20, 2016


I was up in time to get the 8:00 shuttle to the airport this morning, and I took the car rental bus to the car rental center and picked up a car from Alamo.  I let the clerk upsell me to a standard sized SUV from an intermediate sized one, and part of the deal was that I could get a white one (better for the sun and heat).  It only had 137 miles on it when I got it.  It’s a Buick Enclave, which is about the same size as my Honda Pilot, I think, but I vastly prefer my Pilot.  It will be a fine car for eight days, though.


On my way back to the motel, I stopped at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, to look for a lifer.  My first Saturday bird was Great-tailed Grackle.  There were a lot of them around, but I never got a good picture.  I soon heard and saw my target lifer species, ROSY-FACED LOVEBIRD (lifer).  Here is a picture of one.


You can just see a hint of blue on its tail, and here is a picture of one from the back, showing the lovely blue color.


There are a number of species of parrots in the US, but only about 5 or 6 of them are “countable” according to the American Birding Association.  It turns out that Rosy-faced Lovebird is established enough that it is countable.  All the parrots in the US are descendents of escapees or released birds, and they have to be a self-sustaining population for at least ten years before the ABA will call them countable.  So, Rosy-faced Lovebird goes onto my official ABA list, which now numbers 549 species.


I also saw an INCA DOVE feeding in the grass.  Here is a picture.


I saw a rather scruffy looking CURVE-BILLED THRASHER a couple of times.  Here is a picture of that guy.


I walked around a little more and saw VERDIN a couple of times, but couldn’t get a picture of that little bird.


So, I spent more time at the park than I had intended, but I picked up a lifer and three other year-birds, and a total of five Saturday birds.


I went back to the motel, packed up, and headed out.  It was about a one and three-quarter hour drive to Green Valley, which is south of Tucson.  That’s where I’m staying tonight and tomorrow night.  I loaded up my tank with a Mickey D’s lunch and headed up toward Madera Canyon for some more birding.  On the way out of town I saw a hawk on a pole, and it was very light colored.  It was a GRAY HAWK, and I had a better look than I have ever had before at that species.  I got pictures, but they were through the windshield, so they aren’t as sharp as I would like.  Here is my best one, blurred a bit by the windshield.


That was satisfying, and I headed on toward Madera Canyon.  I took the turn off to Florida (pronounced Flor-EE’-da) Canyon and drove slowly along the dusty unpaved road.  There were a lot of Cassin’s Kingbirds, and I got this picture of one of them.


There are also Western Kingbirds in this area, but the tip of the tail is light-colored on this one, and that indicates Cassin’s Kingbird.


I stopped a couple of times when I heard birds, but didn’t get anything else before I got to the end of that road, at the trailhead for the hike up Florida Canyon.  I should mention the temperatures.  It was in the high 80’s by the time I left Phoenix, heading for triple digits there.  It was about 92 in Green Valley when I got there a little after noon.  That was as high as it got, and it got a bit lower at higher elevations.  It was only 79 at the top of Madera Canyon at about 4:30, although it was still in the low 90’s down here in the valley at 5:30.  It was hot, but I did OK.


In this part of Arizona they get thunderstorms in the afternoon regularly, and I heard and saw them in the distance today, but never got rained on.  The clouds did come over, though, and it cooled it down nicely.  One nice effect of the rain is that everything is really green.  It is desert, but this is its greenest season, I think.  I was here in May a couple of times, and it was much browner then.  Here is a picture of ocotillo bushes (the ones that have the long skinny branches) on a green hillside, in a place that is brown most of the year, I think.


There was two foot high grass in many places.  They call it the monsoon season here at this time of year.


I saw a male NORTHERN CARDINAL about then, and I saw other birds but wasn’t able to identify them.


I backtracked back to the road to Madera Canyon and drove on up into the canyon.  My first and major stop was the Santa Rita Lodge feeders.  There were 10 or 12 other people there, looking at the hummingbirds coming to the feeders.  There is a rare hummingbird that has been showing up there for the last several weeks, and some of the people there had seen it today, but it never stuck around long, and I didn’t see it.  I’ll try again tomorrow.


I did see some good year-birds there, though.  Here is a picture of a male BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD.


That was the most common hummingbird, by far.  Here is a female Broad-billed Hummingbird, much less colorful but still with the same orange, curved bill.


Here is a picture of male and female Broad-billed Hummingbirds at the same feeder together.


I heard that there were a very few of another species around, but I didn’t realize I had seen any until I saw this picture that I decided was a juvenile BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD.  The bill length and shape, the color of the sides, the throat patch, and the length of the wings with respect to the tail all make me think it is a juvenile Broad-tailed Hummingbird.


There were at least 17 Wild Turkeys feeding all the time I was there.  Here is a picture of a couple of them.


In May that ground was bare dirt.  I find it really interesting that August would be so much greener than late spring.


I didn’t need it for Saturday, but here is a picture I like of a male Acorn Woodpecker.


I saw just one of the “large” species of hummingbirds, this female MAGNIFICIENT HUMMINGBIRD.


It was at least 50% larger than the other hummers.  There was a pretty butterfly flitting around and I liked it because it was blue.  Here is the best picture I could get.


There was one other hummingbird species there, and here is a picture of a male BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD.


There were other birds around, too.  I added Lesser Goldfinch to my Saturday list, as well as White-breasted Nuthatch.  I got WHITE-WINGED DOVE for my year list, and here’s a picture.


I thought I had gotten a picture of a MEXICAN JAY, but I guess not.  I’ll have to try for one tomorrow.  There was also a male PAINTED REDSTART, but no picture of that striking-looking bird, either.  There was also a cute little CANYON WREN, but I missed that picture, too.


Eventually I gave it up and drove up to the end of the canyon, where the trails up the hillsides begin.  I walked a little way, but not far, because of my heel and my generally poor conditioning.  That was at 5500 feet elevation, and it was only 79 degrees up there.  On my way back to Green Valley, I saw my first GREATER ROADRUNNER of the year walk across the road in front of me.


I stopped at Safeway and loaded up on groceries and booze, then checked into my new home-from-home, another Best Western.  I got some ham and some mac and cheese and mixed them together for a great Old Rambler dinner, eaten after a suitable number of drinkies with peanuts.  It sure was good for my way of traveling when motels started putting in little refrigerators and microwaves in the rooms.


For the second night in a row I was able to watch the Mariners on my computer, thanks to Dish Anywhere, which comes with our Dish TV package at home.  I can tune into my home DVR over the internet, as long as the internet connection is fast enough.  Also for the second night in a row, the Mariners won.


So, at the end of the day, I added 15 species to my year list plus 5 more to my Saturday list.  My estimate for today before I left home was that I would see 18 year-birds today plus three more for my Saturday list, so I fell just a little short of expectations.  Rosy-faced Lovebird was my first lifer of the year.  I now have 193 species for Saturday and 265 for the year.  Tomorrow I plan to go back up to Madera Canyon and see if I can get more for the year as well as get a lot of Sunday birds.



Sunday, August 21, 2016


This morning I got my first year bird in the motel parking lot, CACTUS WREN.  I went to take a picture, though, and my camera wouldn’t focus.  I tried to check the settings, but couldn’t find the focus setting.  Feeling rather worried, I went back into the room and looked up the camera manual online.  While I was waiting for the computer to boot, I found that the manual focus switch had gotten moved, and fixing it solved my problem.  I was envisioning finishing the trip without a camera, though – not a happy thought.  The irony is that for a long time I carried my old camera with me on trips, as a spare, and just recently I had decided to stop doing that.  Anyway, it all worked out, and I got this picture of a Cactus Wren when I got back to the parking lot.


Oh yes, the free breakfast at this Best Western means they give you a voucher for the restaurant, and you get to pick three items.  I prefer a buffet, but I got enough to eat and it only cost me a 2 buck tip.


So, after my Cactus Wren/camera adventure, I headed up toward Madera Canyon.  As I pulled out of civilization, I saw a bird on a wire, so I went back to check it out.  It was singing, but of course, that wasn’t any help to me.  I could see if was a sparrow, but what species?  I got this picture, along with others.


At the time I thought it was a Rufous-crowned Sparrow, which would have been a year-bird, but later when I had looked in my field guide and looked at my pictures, I decided it was actually a harder species to get, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, another year-bird.


I drove slowly, but I didn’t see anything else until I got to my first actual destination, which was Proctor Road, at the mouth of Madera Canyon.  I drove down that rough unpaved road, and stopped several places to play bird calls and look and listen for birds.  At one stop I heard a bird singing, and saw this CANYON TOWHEE near the top of a dead tree.


At that same stop, this male SUMMER TANAGER flew through and landed for a minute for me to take pictures.


It was only about 75 degrees by then, and clouds were moving in, cooling it off even more.  Here is a picture of thunderclouds forming over Madera Canyon.


That was at 10 AM, and the actual rain didn’t start for another four hours.  Those clouds actually moved on, but others came in later.


I walked a short distance on the trail from the Proctor Road parking area.  This is a picture of a pretty bush that seems to be called Velvetpod Mimosa.


I find it really interesting that August is the rainy season in parts of Arizona, and it’s more spring like than spring itself.  Grass is growing, things are very green, and many birds are breeding again, having already raised one brood in the real spring.  I was hoping that would mean that playback would be effective in attracting birds, but so far, I haven’t found that to be so.  Maybe I haven’t tried the right species, or maybe the dynamics are different the second time around.  Maybe territories have already been established and mates chosen, so maybe that means the birds won’t be as responsive as in spring.  I haven’t been able to find a list of species that breed in the monsoon season here.


I didn’t see anything on my short walk until I was almost back to the car, but then I saw this BLACK-THROATED SPARROW singing at the top of an Ocotillo bush.


Here is another picture of it.


It was good to hear it singing, because I recognized the song as one I have heard several times in the last two days, and now I know what bird it is.  Yeah, as if I’ll remember it.


I drove on up to the Santa Rita Lodge and joined the other people watching the birds at the feeders.  I soon added Acorn Woodpecker to my Sunday list, completing that species.  I saw them at Yosemite this year, but not on our arrival day, which was a Sunday.


I soon added the common hummingbirds, which had been year-birds yesterday.  Here is a female Broad-tailed Hummingbird, one of the more difficult ones to find there.  She is the one on the left.


Later I got this picture of a male Broad-tailed Hummingbird.


Another Sunday bird was White-breasted Nuthatch.


Still another Sunday bird was Black-chinned Hummingbird, and here is a male.


I added White-winged Dove to Sunday, but didn’t bother with another picture.  A new one for the year was BRIDLED TITMOUSE.  They moved very quickly, and I took a whole lot of lousy pictures and these two decent ones of Bridled Titmouse.



It’s interesting that there were at least two Bridled Titmice around today quite a bit, but I never saw one yesterday.  Likewise, yesterday I saw Canyon Wren a couple of times, but no sign of one today, although I saw a House Wren today, and I didn’t see one yesterday.


I saw a male ARIZONA WOODPECKER today, after missing that one yesterday, but my only picture is hopelessly blurry.  At one point a couple of Black-headed Grosbeaks flew in for a little while.  This first one was really scruffy looking, and I think it is because it was a juvenile male and his plumage is changing.


Here is a mature male Black-headed Grosbeak for comparison.


A small group of Mexican Jays flew in at one point and took over a couple of the seed feeders.  Here is a Mexican Jay.


A female HEPATIC TANAGER flew in briefly, but none of my pictures are worth showing.  Still, it was an excellent year-bird.


A pair of House Finches flew in and fed for a while.  I got this picture of the colorful male House Finch.


I had Magnificent Hummingbird in the morning, too, but later I got pictures of both a male and a female.


It was after noon by the time I could tear myself away from the feeder action.  All the time there was a small group of serious birders watching for the rare hummingbird that has been showing up there, but no one saw it this morning, as far as I know.  That looks like it will be a lifer that will slip by me this time.  Before I left, I took this picture of some of the people watching the birds at the feeders at Santa Rita Lodge.


I counted 18 people as I left.  I drove on up to the trailhead and picnic area at the top of the canyon, which is at an elevation of 5400 feet.  I found a place to park where I could watch for birds, and I sat in my car with the a/c running and ate my sandwich that I had bought at Safeway this morning.  When I was finished and before I left, I saw some movement in a small tree across the parking lot, so I got out to take a look.  It was about 75 degrees up there then, I think, pretty pleasant, although the sun felt plenty hot.


I stalked the bird I had seen, and eventually found it was actually two birds.  One turned out to be a YELLOW-EYED JUNCO, which is the species I was specifically looking for at that location.  Here is a picture of it.


The other bird was a small sparrow.  It kept hiding in the grass and bushes, but I kept after it, getting peek-a-boo pictures of parts of it.  Eventually I got this picture, which I’m calling a RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW, the species I originally thought the one on the wire was this morning.


I really had to study my pictures and my filed guide to decide which it was – Rufous-crowned or Rufous-winged Sparrow.  The two species are very similar, and I’m pleased to have seen both today and to have gotten good enough pictures to identify them both.  I’m not sure I could ever ID either one without a picture to study.


Next I went back down to one of the hiking trailheads and walked a little on the trail by Madera Canyon Creek, if that’s what it’s called.  I would have walked farther, but it was really clouding up by then, and I suspected that rain was coming soon.  I was right, and I had stayed close enough to the car that I could get back without getting soaked.  I drove in the light sprinkles down to the lodge and joined the watchers at the feeders.  I sat under one of the umbrellas in the sprinkles and looked at birds.  I sat there for about 20 minutes, and during that time it got darker and darker and the rain started to increase.  There was thunder in the distance.  As the storm approached, the hummingbirds went into a feeding frenzy, swarming around the feeders.  Normally, they chase each other away and there are usually only one or two feeding at the same time at any given feeder.  As the sky got darker and the rain increased, they started sharing the feeders, though.  Here is a picture of a “full house”, something not normally seen, or even close.


Here is a female Magnificent Hummingbird loading up on sugar water ahead of the storm.


Here is another picture of the same or a different female Magnificent Hummingbird.


Here is a male Magnificent Hummingbird, on the left, and you can see how much larger he is than the other hummers.


Lightning flashed close by, thunder rolled, and the rain started to pelt down in earnest, so everyone ran for their cars.  I sat in the car and watched the rain sheet down and the wind blow it almost horizontal.  The temperature dropped from 76 degrees to 62 degrees in about ten minutes.  It poured for about 15 or 20 minutes, and I could see why the hummingbirds had been loading up on food, because there was no way they could fly in that wind and rain.  After a while I noticed that a lot of cars were leaving the canyon, and I started to worry about the numerous low spots in the road back to town with their signs saying not to enter if there was water present.  I have no idea how much rain it takes to make a flash flood, but it obviously wasn’t going to stop any time soon, and it was three o’clock by then, so I headed on down the canyon through the storm.  None of the crossings had more than an inch or two of water in them, but I was still glad I had decided to leave.  Who knew how long it might last?


Back down in the town of Green Valley, where I’m staying, it was only raining lightly.  I decided to head down the freeway to the Amado sewage treatment pond, which was a place I intended to stop tomorrow on my way south.  I didn’t have my maps or directions with me, but I had been there before, and I had no trouble finding it as it turned out.  It was raining lightly, but I got out of the car to check out a cormorant out on a floating platform in the pond.  I couldn’t tell which of the two possible species it was with my binoculars, which are 10 power, meaning they magnify things by 10 times.  So, I got my camera out to take some pictures, at a magnification of 50 times.  Two things happened at about the same time, while I was trying to get a picture without getting raindrops on the camera lens.  First, my camera battery died and second, 4 or 5 ducks flew up and I could see they were the species I was hoping to see there, BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING DUCKS.  I got my binoculars on them to confirm that, but no chance of a picture, of course, with a dead battery.


So, I dug into my birding purse, found my spare battery, and put it in the camera.  I took pictures of the cormorant and determined it was a juvenile NEOTROPIC CORMORANT, the species I was hoping for.  Here is my best picture, too distant to be much good, except for identification.


It turned out that my little trip down to Amado earned me two more Sunday birds, and both were new for the year as well.  I drove back to Green Valley using frontage roads and going slowly, looking for birds.  I gassed up the car and went back to my motel room.


I ended up seeing 21 species for my Sunday list, to bring me to 203.  12 of those were also year-birds, to bring me to 277 species for the year.  That’s 27 species for my year list so far on the trip, and my goal was to see 50 year-birds.  I’ve seen many of the easy ones now, though, so 50 is looking kind of tough at this point.  We shall see.  I need to decide if I want to go back up Madera Canyon in the morning before I head south, or whether I will just head south first thing.  I need to weigh the pros and cons of both approaches.


My heel is holding up really well so far.  I’m not claiming victory or anything, but it hurts less each day, which is an excellent sign.  We’ll see if that continues or if I regress.  I hope I sleep better tonight.  I have been awake for at least an hour each of the last two nights, and I would rather get the sleep.  Tomorrow is another day.



Monday, August 22, 2016


I slept better last night.  I went out in the parking lot both before and after breakfast and played the calls of Cactus Wren, but they weren’t showing up today.  I finally was loading the car up and getting ready to leave at about 9:00, and I played the calls one more time.  This time all three Cactus Wrens immediately flew in and started calling back to me.  I chased them around and this was the best picture I got of a Cactus Wren.


They are the largest of our wren species by far.  My first stop was the Amado sewage pond, and I soon saw a couple of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks.  This time I got a distant picture.


There was a Neotropic Cormorant on the same blue float today, too.


On my way back to the highway I pulled into what I thought was a park, but was actually some kind of church camp.  I pulled back out but went on down the road a little, and I saw a couple of birds on the ground.  I got these two distant pictures of a Rufous-winged Sparrow, which was a great one for Monday.



The key to the identification of that species is the double submoustachial stripe, along with the rufous crown and the line through the eye.  This one today was much more strongly marked than the one I had a picture of yesterday.


On the way back to the freeway I saw a Gray Hawk fly by, another excellent Monday bird.  I picked up a sandwich at Subway in Rio Rico and on my way back across the freeway I visited a decorative bell tower where a professional guide had shown me a Barn Owl roosting last May.  There was lots of “whitewash” on the bell, but no sign of the owl today.


Across the freeway on Rio Rico Road, I drove through the parking area for the Anza Trail trailhead and picked up a new year-bird, a male VERMILION FLYCATCHER.  It is a very striking bird, but my pictures today were too distant to be worth showing, so I’ll try to get a better one.


I got LARK SPARROW several places along Rio Rico Road, and here is a picture of one.


I also saw a small gray and white bird that I called a LUCY’S WARBLER, although I wish I had gotten a better look at it, or a picture.  At one stop there were three Swainson’s Hawks overhead, along with several Turkey Vultures and a BLACK VULTURE.  Here is one of the Swainson’s Hawks.


The main point of birding along Rio Rico Road is to look for an uncommon kingbird that breeds there.  Unfortunately, there are three species of kingbirds along that stretch, and the differences are quite minor, at least to me.  Here is a kingbird that I think is a Western Kingbird, which I didn’t need for Monday.



I’m not going to go into all the nuances of kingbird identification, but I think that is a Western Kingbird, although maybe it’s a Cassin’s Kingbird.  Here is one that I believe is a Cassin’s Kingbird, which I did need for Monday.


The best reason for thinking the second one is Cassin’s is the light color of the tip of the tail.  Here is one that I think is a Western Kingbird.


Here is one that might be the one I was looking specifically for, TROPICAL KINGBIRD.


Without seeing the front of the bird, it’s hard to say, but my biggest reason for thinking it was a Tropical Kingbird is that its back is olive-green, rather than gray.  Here is a kingbird that I’m pretty sure is a Tropical Kingbird, though.


The bill is longer, which indicates Tropical Kingbird, but the real clincher is that the yellow on the breast extends right up to the throat.  Cassin’s and Western Kingbirds have gray colored upper breasts.  I got that last picture as I was leaving the area, so it was a last minute success.  At that same stop, I got this picture of a Say’s Phoebe, a bird I didn’t need for Monday.


While I was driving on back roads toward my next destination, I saw a bird fly into a tree and I stopped in the middle of the road and got the binoculars on it.  It was a brief look, but I’m convinced it was a BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER, a great one that will soon be migrating south.  I wish I could have tried for a picture, but I was on a curve and there was nowhere to pull over.


My next stop was a small side road referred to by birders as the Patagonia Roadside Rest.  I guess it was a rest area once, long ago.  It is famous among birders and lots of great birds are seen there.  It’s main claim to fame is another uncommon kingbird, but I didn’t see one there on my first time through there today.  I parked in the shade and walked up and down the road a bit.  I heard birds calling, but of course, I didn’t know what they were.  One bird was singing incessantly, and I finally saw it high on a dead snag.  It was my first BLUE GROSBEAK of the year.  I took some pictures, but none are very satisfying.  It was a blue colored bird, though, so I had to show something.  I ended up keeping two pictures, neither one of which is very good.  They almost look like two different birds, but they were the same Blue Grosbeak, taken several minutes apart.



His feathers were ruffled up in the first picture, I guess.  While I was chasing birds around I also got a good look at a Rufous-crowned Sparrow for my Monday list.


I was looking for a lifer that has been reported there, and I played its song.  It sounded to me just like the song that the Blue Grosbeak kept singing, but I tried it anyway.  I thought I heard a response, but I couldn’t tell if it was the grosbeak or another bird.  I kept looking for it, and it kept answering me, and finally I got a look at a male VARIED BUNTING (lifer).  It was my second lifer of the trip.  I wish I could have had a better look, but I switched to my camera from my binoculars, even though the lighting was terrible.  I had to process this picture too much, so it looks awful, but it does show the purplish-red color of the upper breast, to confirm that it was a male Varied Bunting.


I ate my humble lunch there in the midst of that birding, and when I was done there, I went on into Patagonia and visited Paton’s Hummingbird Center.  They have changed things around and the changes are improvements, I think.  I found a seat in the shade and watched birds at the feeders.  I picked up the two common hummingbirds, Black-chinned and Broad-billed.  I got a picture of a male Broad-billed Hummingbird that I like.


I also got the uncommon hummingbird specialty of Paton’s, VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD.


I got my first ABERT’S TOWHEE of the year, but none of my pictures came out well.  There were also a lot of Inca Dove’s around, as well as White-winged Doves – both good for Monday.  I got my first GILA WOODPECKERS of the year, too.  Here is a picture of one Gila Woodpecker.


I moved around to the back of the house and watched more birds.  There were lots of Lesser Goldfinches, but I didn’t need that one today.  I did see another Blue Grosbeak, and here is a distant picture.


A Bridled Titmouse flew in briefly, but my only picture is very blurry.


Eventually I tore myself away and went back out front again, on my way back to the car.  I looked at hummingbirds, hoping to see an uncommon one, but the best I could do was this Curve-billed Thrasher for my Monday list.


It was getting late, so I headed for Nogales, where I’m spending the next two nights, but I stopped at the Patagonia Roadside Rest again, just briefly.  I got out of the car and saw a kingbird flying above me, chasing bugs.  It called while it flew, and when I played the call on my phone I could identify it as the uncommon THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD, a bird that the Patagonia Roadside Rest is well known for.  Later I got this picture of one perched at the top of a snag.


That was my fourth kingbird species of the day.  This one has a thick bill, a thick black line behind the eye, and is white on the upper breast, rather than gray or yellow.


I was satisfied with that, but as I was leaving another birder showed up and we talked a little.  While we were talking he saw a small bird in a tree, and we both looked for it.  It turned out to be a parent feeding a young fledgling, and we both concurred that they were BELL’S VIREOS, another great one to get.


With that, I headed on down the road toward Nogales, but I stopped briefly to check out Kino Springs, a place I have birded before.  It was really dead looking there, and I might not go back.  I didn’t see anything interesting except a female Vermilion Flycatcher.


I stopped at Safeway for some food and checked into my next Best Western, here in Nogales.  Tomorrow I will bird the same places I went today, mostly, and come back here tomorrow night.  I ended up getting 13 more year-birds today, to my great surprise, and I added a whopping 27 birds to my Monday list.  That brings my year list to 290 and my Monday list to 188.


It’s late and I want to get this out tonight, so I won’t add anything else.  What a life!



Tuesday, August 23, 2016


I slept well again and was out on the road by about 8:45.  I headed north, thinking I would go on up to Amado to try for the Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks and the Neotropic Cormorant again, but when I saw that it was going to be an extra 20 miles each way to do that, I gave that up and just went to Rio Rico Road again, since I had done so well there yesterday.


One of the first birds I got was a female Vermilion Flycatcher, for my Tuesday list.  Here is a distant picture of that one.


A little later I got this picture of a male Vermilion Flycatcher, for comparison.


I started the kingbird festival again with Western Kingbird, which I needed for Tuesday.  Here is a picture of a Western Kingbird.


Note the black tail with the white outer feathers.  Here is a picture of a Cassin’s Kingbird from the back.  Note the pale color to the tip of the brownish tail.


To finish off the kingbirds of the Rio Rico area, here is a picture of a Tropical Kingbird.  It was probably the 30th or 40th kingbird that I took a close look at today, and it came just as I was about to leave the area.  The key things about Tropical Kingbird are the long bill and the yellow upper breast.  Compare it to the Western Kingbird above.


Meanwhile, while looking at kingbirds all along the road and back, I picked up Inca Dove and Lesser Goldfinch for my Tuesday list.  Overhead I saw a couple of Black Vultures and a Swainson’s Hawk, too.  I saw my first Gila Woodpecker of the day, and then I saw this handsome Greater Roadrunner in the distance.


I also got this picture of a Lark Sparrow, another one I needed for Tuesday.


There seem to be a lot of Blue Grosbeaks coming through on migration now, and here are a couple of pictures, since I love blue-colored birds.  First is the front view.


This is what Blue Grosbeak looks like from the back.


I also saw a Gray Hawk flying in circles overhead, but I wasn’t able to get my camera to focus for a picture.


That was a great start for my day, and I moved on to the Patagonia Roadside Rest, which is very well known among American birders.  There is a phenomenon known as the Patagonia Roadside Rest effect that birders refer to.  A few rarities were seen there early on, and birders started going there.  With all the birders going there, they saw a lot more great birds.  There might be many places nearby that are just as good, but birders go to the Patagonia Roadside Rest and put that in their reports, so it has become known as a great place to bird.  It is sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy, in other words.  Anyway, it is now a “must visit” site for any birders in the area.  Here is a picture of the place.


The main road is about 40 yards to the right of this little stretch of old road.


I like to get pictures of birds “in the wild”, as opposed to pictures of them at feeders, when I can, and I got this picture of a Gila Woodpecker there.


I had wanted to play some calls and songs of birds there, but soon after I got there, two couples showed up, in two pickup trucks with campers on them.  I don’t like to play bird calls when other birders are around, so I just walked up and down the road and talked to the other birders a bit.  There was a fair amount of bird song, but I couldn’t recognize any of them, of course.  At one point the other birders noticed a couple of Thick-billed Kingbirds and they called me over and I got this picture of two Thick-billed Kingbirds, to complete my kingbird Grand Slam (four kingbird species) for the second day in a row.


Before I left I did get one more picture of a Blue Grosbeak (you can’t have too many pictures of blue colored birds).


The other birders were sticking around and another car of birders arrived, so I went off to Paton’s Hummingbird Center. 


As soon as I arrived I got Broad-billed Hummingbird, Black-chinned Hummingbird, and the specialty of Paton’s, Violet-crowned Hummingbird.  All of those were at the two hummingbird feeders by the place I parked my car.


It used to be called simply Paton’s Yard, because it was started by the couple (named Paton) who lived there.  It was open to birders for many years, and became very well known among birders.  The Paton’s died several years ago, and the Tucson Audubon Society bought it from the family and have maintained it since then.  Here is a picture of the back yard.


They have fixed it up nicely and there are now feeders around the whole house, with places to sit in the front yard as well.


Today I started out sitting in the front yard, and I got a picture of Abert’s Towhee today.


I got White-winged Dove for my Tuesday list, and then I added a new year-bird when a little group of six GAMBEL’S QUAIL moved in.  Here are a couple of pictures of male Gambel’s Quail.



Here is a female Gambel’s Quail.


A female Northern Cardinal came in briefly, but I didn’t get a picture.  I moved to the back yard and did manage a picture of a male Northern Cardinal.


I had a Bridled Titmouse come in briefly, but it got scared away by a larger bird and didn’t come back.  A couple of Bewick’s Wrens came around, but I didn’t need that one for Tuesday since we have them in our yard at home.  I got this picture of a Song Sparrow, which I see all the time at home.  The ones here are much lighter colored, though, and very reddish.  Our Song Sparrows at home are much darker and more gray than reddish.


It was almost one o’clock by then, and it was time for lunch.  I drove farther east to the Sonoita rest area and had my humble lunch there.  I had made myself a ham and cheese sandwich for today and I still had some Fritos left, along with some broccoli and carrots.  After lunch I drove around looking for Eastern Meadowlarks, but never saw one.  I headed toward Las Cienegas National Wildlife Refuge and watched the fence lines.  There were kingbirds and doves, and finally I was rewarded with a couple of Horned Larks, a good Tuesday bird.


I got to the road into Las Cienegas and headed north on the very good unpaved road.  It wasn’t even dusty, since there is rain here in this season.  I was looking for sparrows, but it was much too late in the day to really have much chance of seeing them or hearing them sing.  Every now and then I would see one fly across the road, but usually they flew out of sight.  One stopped where I could see it, though, and I got a single picture of it.


As you can see, it is very plain, but I got out my field guide and decided it was a CASSIN’S SPARROW, a really excellent bird for my year list.  I didn’t think I would be able to identify one unless I had a good picture, and the picture was good enough that I’m willing to call it a Cassin’s Sparrow.


A little later there was a small flock of sparrow-like birds and they flew into a bush not too far away.  I got some pictures, and was able to identify them as LARK BUNTINGS in winter plumage.  Here is a picture of four of them.


I didn’t have my maps with me, but there were maps along the road a couple of places, and I had been there last year in May.  I pressed on to a water tank with a couple of ponds that I remembered.  The water there makes it a haven for birds, I think, especially for migrants who are looking for a place to rest and feed.  Birders call such places migrant traps.


I saw a number of birds there.  Some of them were ones I didn’t need for Tuesday, like Lazuli Bunting, Lesser Goldfinch, Blue Grosbeak (again) and Vermilion Flycatcher, but there were also some good ones that I needed.  I got a MacGillvray’s Warbler and a Yellow Warbler, birds that would be migrating through here at this time of year.  Both were excellent Tuesday birds.  I had a brief look at a Black-throated Sparrow, too, for my Tuesday list.


That was a good haul, but it was time to be heading for home.  On my way out I saw a bird on a post, and got these two pictures.



It was another really plain sparrow, but again I was able to identify it (I think) from my field guide.  I think it was a BOTTERI’S SPARROW, another one I didn’t think I would be able to identify on this trip unless I had a good picture.  With that outstanding finish, I left Las Cienegas and headed back, unsuccessfully looking for meadowlarks all the way back.


I stopped again at the roadside rest and played some bird calls.  No responses, but I did add Western Tanager to my Tuesday list.  On my way back to the motel I saw a couple of ravens near the Nogales International Airport, and pulled in to check them out.  There are two species of ravens here, and I ended up deciding that these were the more common one, Common Raven, which I see around home.  I got this picture, though.


I stopped once more, at Kino Springs, because a woman I had talked to at Paton’s had seen a Yellow-billed Cuckoo there this morning.  I played the calls and didn’t see or hear anything.  That was it for my birding today, but as I pulled into my motel I saw a Great-tailed Grackle, a species I didn’t know lived here.  It was one last one for my Tuesday list, though.


It turned out to be another outstanding day for my day list.  I got 31 species for my Tuesday list, to bring it to 192 species now.  I only added four more year-birds, but that still brought me to 294.  My goal for the trip was to get 50 year-birds, which would bring me to 300 total.  I’m only six away from that goal now, and tomorrow I head to another area, which makes it more likely that I’ll see new birds.


Tomorrow I plan to hit many of the same places again that I’ve visited the last two days – that’s the nature of DOTW birding, going back to the productive places over and over again.  Then in the afternoon I’ll head over to Sierra Vista, where I plan to stay for four nights.  We’ll see if I can get any more year-birds tomorrow, and see how many I can add to my Wednesday list.


By the way, my Achilles tendon (heel) problem is slowly improving.  Each day it’s a little better, both for driving and for walking.  We’ll see if that continues or if it regresses. 


The trip moves on and the streak is alive.



Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Is it really only Wednesday?  It seems like I have been on this trip for over a week so far.  I was up and out by about 9:15 this morning.  Serious birders would be appalled at how late I get started.  I picked up my first Wednesday bird in the hotel parking lot with the naked eye – Great-tailed Grackle.  I headed up to Rio Rico Road to try for the goodies I had been seeing there.


I got Cassin’s Kingbird right away, and I didn’t need Western Kingbird for Wednesday.  As it turned out, I didn’t ever see a Tropical Kingbird today, but I saw some other great stuff instead.


I got this picture of a Turkey Vulture on a pole, stretching its wings.


Soon after that I saw a Swainson’s Hawk perched on a wire and got this distant picture.


At that same stop, right after taking that picture, I heard a call that I recognized because I had been playing it yesterday, and it’s very distinctive.  I looked around and saw a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO fly into a tree.  I got a great look at it, but it was behind a lot of thin branches, so I couldn’t get a picture.  It was a great year-bird to get, though.  I think it is only the second time I have ever seen Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  I also got Lark Sparrow and Vermilion Flycatcher there.  Overhead I picked out a Black Vulture among the usual Turkey Vultures.  I then saw a Greater Roadrunner down the same dirt road that I had seen one on yesterday.  I thought I was doing great, and I was, but it got even better.  Looking overhead at the circling vultures, I noticed that one of them had a white stripe on its tail.  Eureka!  I have looked at many dozens of Turkey Vultures on this trip, looking for this bird, and I finally got a lovely ZONE-TAILED HAWK.  I even got pictures.  I think it was only the third time I have seen that species.



Here’s what a Turkey Vulture looks like overhead.  This is what I usually see when I look up at circling black birds.


I continued on, looking for Tropical Kingbird, but I just kept saying to myself – Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Zone-tailed Hawk.  I was very pleased.   I saw a Blue Grosbeak after that, but no Tropical Kingbirds.


After that fun, I went back to the hotel and checked out.  I stopped next at the Patagonia Roadside Rest.  It was very quiet there, since it was the middle of the day.  I played the song of Varied Bunting, the lifer I had seen the other day, and it indeed flew in again and I got a quick look at it.  The light was terrible, though, and it soon flew away.  It was still a great one to see again.  I played the song of Bell’s Vireo, and I got a number of replies, but never saw the bird.  It was good enough that I counted it anyway, as a “heard only” bird.  I missed the Thick-billed Kingbirds today; I wonder where else they hang out.


After that I went to Paton’s.  I added the usual hummingbirds, Broad-billed and Black-chinned, to my Wednesday list.  Likewise Gila Woodpecker, White-winged Dove, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Bridled Titmouse.  I got this picture of a female Northern Cardinal.


I also got the daily obligatory picture of a male Blue Grosbeak, at a feeder this time.


There was a weird looking bird in the yard at a distance, and I couldn’t figure out what it was.  I took a lot of pictures and tonight I posted a message on Tweeters, the local Western Washington birding list-serv, with a link to five pictures.  Everyone told me it was a Blue Grosbeak, and one woman said it was probably a juvenile that was molting into adult male plumage.  Here is a picture of that very scruffy looking Blue Grosbeak, if that’s what it was.


I ate my lunch in the front yard there at Paton’s and picked up Abert’s Towhee and Violet-crowned Hummingbird.  I also got this picture of a White-winged Dove and a couple of Inca Doves, both of which I needed for Wednesday.  I took the picture as a size comparison of the two dove species.


When I was done there, I hustled over to Sierra Vista, which is about a 45 minute drive to the east.  I plan to stay here in Sierra Vista for the next four nights.  On the drive over, I saw a Horned Lark on a fence wire, so that one went onto my Wednesday list.  I got here about 2:30, so I drove down the highway about 20 minutes to the Ash Canyon B&B, which has feeders and a rare hummingbird that I wanted to see.


When I got there, there were about 12 or 15 other birders there already.  I paid my 5 bucks that the owner asks for, and soon saw the special hummingbird, my lifer LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD.   Here are some pictures of male Lucifer Hummingbirds.





That last picture shows how his gorget feathers are kind of free floating, laid over the other feathers of the neck.


I added Mexican Jay to my Wednesday list.  I also added Canyon Towhee, with this picture as well.


I didn’t need Bewick’s Wren, since they live in our yard at home, but the ones down here look somewhat different.  Here are a couple of pictures of a very cute little Bewick’s Wren.



I got my first LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER of the year, and here is a picture.


I had seen a White-breasted Nuthatch at Paton’s, but I got this close-up picture of one at Ash Canyon B&B.


I showed a picture of a female Northern Cardinal earlier, and here is a male Northern Cardinal.


I added Curve-billed Thrasher to my Wednesday list, and here is a picture of that guy.


I had heard that there were Magnificent Hummingbirds there, and I did see one, although only briefly and too distant for a picture anyway.  It was a good one for my Wednesday list, since I hadn’t seen one since Madera Canyon on the weekend.


There were some Acorn Woodpeckers around, which I didn’t need, but I got this picture of one.


It was getting to be time to be heading for my motel, and as I left a family of Wild Turkeys came in, to add to my Wednesday list.


When I left at about 4:10, I was the last birder there.  I guess all those early risers punked out early today.  On my drive back up to Sierra Vista I saw a dark bird on a wire and went back.  It turned out to be another Swainson’s Hawk, and I got another picture.


So, that was it for Wednesday.  I haven’t mentioned the weather lately, I don’t think, but it hasn’t been too hot, as I feared it might be.  Yesterday was in the low to mid 80’s and today it got up to 90 briefly, but only when I was driving.  It was mid-80’s or even low 80’s most of the places I was out of the car.  I had clouds and a few sprinkles at Ash Canyon B&B this afternoon.  I wouldn’t want to work or even walk much in the sun, which feels very hot, but in the shade, taking it easy, it has been pretty comfortable.  I think it might be a little warmer the next few days, and we’ll see how I do.  I think there is the possibility of afternoon thundershowers, though.


I had another excellent day today.  I added 31 species to my Wednesday list, to bring it to 202 species.  Four of those were year-birds, to bring my year total to 298, only two species away from my goal of getting to 300 on this trip.  I saw my first Lucifer Hummingbirds of my life today, my third lifer of the trip, I think.  Rosy-faced Lovebird, Varied Bunting, and Lucifer Hummingbird.  Those are the ones I can remember right now.


I have a number of places where I can look for birds around here, and I need to decide where to go tomorrow.  It’s late again tonight, so I’ll send this out without further comment.



Thursday, August 25, 2016


This morning the first place I went was Fort Huachuca (pronounced Wa-CHOO’-ka), a large army base at the foot of the Huachuca Mountains.  I went to the gate I had gone to last year, but they have tightened their security considerably, and I had to go to a different gate this time.  I parked and went into the little building where they issue passes to visitors.  Washington is one of the five states that doesn’t have what is referred to as an enhanced driver’s license ( I think that is because Washington doesn’t require you to produce a birth certificate to get a driver’s license, and most states do), but I had known that in advance and had renewed my passport earlier this year for exactly that reason, and I had brought it along.  (Technically, a Washington State driver’s license isn’t adequate for identification to fly, but they keep extending the exception to allow it.  I wanted to have a current passport for when they finally require it to fly.)  They had me fill out a form, show my passport, and they took my picture.  They issued me with an official looking ID pass with my picture on it, and it’s good for 30 days.  The whole procedure only took about ten minutes, and now I’m supposed to be able to drive onto the fort by only showing that ID card.


Once on the fort, I drove to Garden Canyon, one of the two birding sites I wanted to visit.  On the way there I saw a Northern Mockingbird for my Thursday list.  It turned out that you couldn’t actually drive very far up Garden Canyon, and it was completely dead as far as birds were concerned where I could go.  I drove back and picked up Cassin’s Kingbird for Thursday on the way.  I used the map they had given me to find Huachuca Canyon, the other birding site I wanted to visit.  I parked at the lower picnic area, which was close to the start of the rough, rocky unpaved road up the canyon.  I had seen a lot of birds there in May last year, but this year in August it was very quiet.  I did add Lesser Goldfinch to my Thursday list, and then I got this picture of a male Summer Tanager, also for my Thursday list.


It was supposedly 1.7 miles to the end of the road, and it was quite rough and rocky, just as I remembered it.  Here is a picture of the parking area at the end of the road.


I didn’t see any birds there today except three Acorn Woodpeckers, which I didn’t need.  I didn’t really feel like walking up the trail.  I didn’t feel 100% today anyway, and the elevation is over 5000 feet.  I walked a little way up the trail, but I soon gave it up and returned to my car.  I drove back down the 1.7 miles and it took me over ten minutes, which gives you an idea how rough it was.


When I got back to civilization, I looked around because last year I had seen a species there that would be a year bird for me this year.  Sure enough, there was a family of EASTERN BLUEBIRDS foraging under the trees.  Here are two pictures of juvenile Eastern Bluebirds.



They weren’t completely blue, but the blue tail on that one bird is great, I think.  I picked up Mexican Jay and Blue Grosbeak at that same place, as I sat in my car and took pictures of the bluebirds.  It sprinkled a little and the clouds overhead kept it cool.  I had been worried about the high temperatures in Arizona in August, but so far it has been just fine.  Today I saw highs in the mid-80’s, but most of the time it was only about 80, and I had rain twice and clouds other times.


It was lunch time by then, and I had planned to pick up a sandwich at Subway, right outside the gate to the fort.  There was a Burger King on the fort, though, and I thought it would be faster, so I stopped there and loaded up on calories.  It turned out to be pretty slow, as many people came there on their lunch break.  After lunch I drove down to Ramsey Canyon.  On the way I saw a couple of ravens on a pole, and I stopped to see if they were Chihuahuan Ravens, but decided they were Common Ravens.  Here is a picture of one of them, for my future reference, if I ever see a raven I think might be a Chihuahuan Raven.  The feather bristles on the upper bill are supposed to extend about two-thirds of the length of the bill on Chihuahuan Raven, and only about half-way on Common Raven.  This looks like half-way to me.



At Ramsey Canyon, I parked my car and walked back down to the Ramsey Canyon Inn, where they have a few feeders.  They didn’t seem very hospitable to non-guests (based on the signs posted), so I found a rock out on the road and sat there and watched the feeders and trees around them.


I soon added White-breasted Nuthatch to my Thursday list, and then I saw both a female and a male Hepatic Tanager in the trees nearby.  Coming to the hummingbird feeders were three species I needed for Thursday – Broad-billed, Black-chinned, and Magnificent Hummingbirds.  Here is a picture of a juvenile Magnificent Hummingbird.


A Painted Redstart moved around up in the trees, but never came close enough for good pictures.  This was the best I could do of that striking red, white, and black bird.


A Gila Woodpecker flew in once to a suet block, but one of the Acorn Woodpeckers that were hanging around immediately sent it packing.


Eventually I got tired of sitting on my rock alongside the road and I went up to the entrance to the Ramsey Canyon Preserve.  It is owned by the Nature Conservancy and it costs six bucks for admission for the week.  It being Thursday, that meant my six bucks bought me admission until Monday, which is fine with me, because I’ll be home by Monday, GWATCDR.


It was threatening to rain, but I paid my six bucks and went in.  I saw a lizard as I entered, and I took this picture because I thought it looked unusual.  I wasn’t able to identify it after some cursory internet searches.


Just after seeing the lizard there were a couple of women there and one of them had a fancy camera on a tripod, pointed up into a tree.  Of course I asked what she had.  It turned out to be a Violet-crowned Hummingbird on a nest.  Violet-crowned is quite uncommon, so I took a look.  Here is the best picture I could get.  You can see the orange bill and also the tips of the wings and the tail on the right side of the nest.


That was a great one for Thursday, and I might go back the next three days to add it to those lists.  I’m looking for some sure-thing bird for Sunday, since I have to drive to Phoenix to fly home, and I won’t have much time to find a Sunday bird before I need to leave.


I walked about a hundred yards up the trail, but it was too much for me.  The elevation is 5500 feet there, and I wasn’t feeling too spruce today anyway.  My Achilles tendon is doing well, but walking still hurts it somewhat, and I’m trying not to stress it too much.  I didn’t see any birds there, and the only picture I got, other than the Violet-crowned Hummingbird, was this Arizona Sister butterfly.


It started to rain a bit, and I headed out.  On the way to my final destination for the day I saw a hawk on an antenna, but it turned out to be a Red-tailed Hawk, not a Swainson’s Hawk as I had hoped.  A little farther down the highway I saw a bird on a wire, and it wasn’t the usual Mourning Dove, which is what it usually is.  It looked to me like a scrub-jay, just from the shape.  I stopped and and got some pictures.  Here are two of them.



In that second picture you can actually see some blue on the wing.  It turned out to be a lifer, I believe – WOODHOUSE’S SCRUB-JAY.  Until this year, it would have been a Western Scrub-Jay, but they split the species into two species, California Scrub-Jay and Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay.  The ones that live in Arizona are Woodhouse’s, and since I hadn’t ever counted that species before it was a lifer today.  I forget if I ever saw a Western Scrub-Jay here in Arizona or in Texas, but if so, I counted it as a Western Scrub-Jay, and Woodhouse’s increases my USA list by one, so it goes down as my fourth lifer of the trip.  It is a juvenile, I think, which explains why it is so plain looking.  The size and shape can’t be anything else, though, I don’t think.


After that excitement I went on to Ash Canyon B&B, which I had visited yesterday afternoon also.  I figured I would get at least a half dozen more species for my Thursday list there.  On the way in to the place from the highway, there was a Greater Roadrunner in the driveway, a great bonus.  Here are two pictures of that beauty.



Everybody loves roadrunners, don’t they?  Beep, beep.


At the Ash Canyon B&B, I sat down and soon saw my first female Lucifer Hummingbird.  It has the same curved bill and short wings/long tail of the male, but doesn’t have the striking purple throat patch.


There were other hummingbirds, of course, and I saw one that perplexed me.  It turned out to be a juvenile female Broad-billed Hummingbird, but her blue throat patch threw me.  Here is a picture of her, next to a male Black-chinned Hummingbird.


A Ladder-backed Woodpecker showed up briefly, for my Thursday list, as did a Canyon Towhee and a couple of White-winged Doves.  I got this picture of a male Magnificent Hummingbird, too.


I got this picture of a male Gila Woodpecker, too, pecking at an orange.


Four Wild Turkeys came along, for my Thursday list.  Here is a picture of one of them, a young female, standing on the top of the fence, which is covered with a vine.


It was 4:30 by then, so I boogied up the highway toward my humble hotel.  I wanted to try for Great-tailed Grackle and Chihuahuan Raven on the way home, though, and the best place for both of them is in the middle of Sierra Vista.  So, I took a slightly longer way back and I did manage to see Great-tailed Grackles at three different locations.  No ravens, though.  They don’t have crows here, and Chihuahuan Ravens sort of take there place in the towns, I understand.


Oh yes, I saw another hawk on a pole, and I went back and got this picture.


I tried to make it into a Swainson’s Hawk, but I think it was probably only an interesting-plumaged Red-tailed Hawk.


So, it was a less productive day than the last couple, mainly because I went to fewer places.  I added 23 species to my Thursday list, to bring it to 186.  I got only two more year-birds, Eastern Bluebird and Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, which brings me to 300 year-birds exactly.  That was my goal for the trip, to get my year total to 300.  I have two more days of birding here, but I’ll have to go someplace different to get any more year species, I think.  I do have one place in mind, if I want to take the time to drive up Carr Canyon, a five mile steep, rough unpaved road.  We shall see.  I now have four lifers on the trip, which exceeds my expectations.


My hotel here is pretty good.  It’s an “all suites” hotel, which means I have a little kitchenette area and a small loveseat and chair.  They have a pretty good free breakfast and a happy hour in the evening that includes two free drinks (beer or wine).  Tonight I was able to get two wines at once and bring them up to my room, which was nice.  Last night I had a couple of very good dark beers while I ate some of the grilled chicken they provided for a snack.  I have only two problems with the place – the bed is too firm for me and the internet connection is too slow to stream my Mariners games in the evening.  The air conditioning is good, though, and it is clean and reasonably fresh-smelling.  All this for $84.55 a night plus tax.   I noticed that the local Motel 6 was only $32.99 a night, but I have moved up from that class of accommodation in my old age.


So, two more days of birding here.  I need to decide where to go each day – mostly back to the same productive places, I imagine.  I’m enjoying the trip, but it will still be good to get home afterwards, like after all trips.



Friday, August 26, 2016


Before I get into today’s birding extravaganza, I need to post my weekly report card, which I should have done last night.  I do that every Thursday, but I was running late last night, and it completely slipped my mind.  Here is the status of my DOTW birding after 31 weeks (I took a week off in February when I was in the hospital, and two more weeks off in April after my abdominal surgery.)  This is as of last night, Thursday, August 25.


After                 Fri        Sat       Sun      Mon      Tue       Wed     Thu


4 wks                51         47         55         53         44         55         52

8 wks                57         60         73         67         69         79         68

12 wks              90         87         82         81         96         100       95

16 wks              100       105       106       114       111       111       107

20 wks              122       114       120       125       133       140       136

24 wks              141       138       145       150       155       162       152

28 wks              180       169       180       158       159       169       159

29 wks              182       172       181       160       160       170       161

30 wks              183       173       182       161       161       171       163

31 wks              184       193       203       188       192       202       186


You can see how Saturday through Thursday jumped this week, on my trip.  I had 300 year birds as of last night.


Today, Friday, June 26, I had an outstanding day of birding.  I got out of here a little after 9:00, my usual very late time.  My first destination was just across the highway at Fort Huachuca.  My fancy ID card got me in just fine, and I drove to the start of Huachuca Canyon to look for the Eastern Bluebirds again.  I saw them, and then went on up to the lower picnic area.  I didn’t feel like driving the 1.7 miles of very rough, rocky road to the upper picnic area, but I wanted to walk around the lower picnic area a little.  That only involved a couple of hundred yards of much less rough dirt road.


I wasn’t expecting much, but almost right away I saw a bird in a tree ahead of me, sitting out in the open.  I could barely believe my eyes!  It was a male ELEGANT TROGON, which is probably the most sought after bird in Southeast Arizona by all birders who visit here.  It was only the second Elegant Trogon I had ever seen, so it was an almost-lifer.  I had thought they would be higher up in the canyon, which is where I saw one in May last year.  Here is a front view of that very colorful, tropical-looking bird.  Male Elegant Trogon.


It sat while I took two pictures, and then flew into a nearby tree, but immediately came back and sat with his back to me, again posing for pictures.  The back is even more colorful than the front.


That was an absolutely outstanding start to my day.  I walked around some more after it flew on, and saw a couple of Painted Redstarts, a great bird for Friday.  I really like their striking appearance.  I got a better picture today than I did yesterday of this Painted Redstart.


Redstarts have a habit of spreading their wings and tails, and I got a picture today from the front as this one spread itself out for me.


Check out those tail feathers.  I think it’s really interesting how the outer ones have varying amounts of white and black, and each one grows in just where it needs to be to make the pattern.


Those are the best redstart pictures I have ever gotten, so I left there feeling great.


As I drove slowly back down the unpaved road, I had my windows open to listen for birds, and I heard one calling.  I stopped and got out, and eventually saw this bird at the top of a dead snag.


It was a SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, another almost-lifer that I had only seen once before.  I saw it farther up the canyon also, on the same trip when I saw the trogon, last May.  I had hoped to see one yesterday, at the end of the road, and to see one farther down the canyon was amazing.  It was chasing a couple of Acorn Woodpeckers around, and at one point I got this picture of it just after it took off.


Two almost-lifers in less than fifteen minutes (with pictures, no less!), not to mention the best redstart pictures I have ever gotten.  What a start to my day!


I headed back toward the exit from the fort, but I detoured a little to look for Cassin’s Kingbird, where I had seen them yesterday.  I found one right away and moved on to my next birding destination.


That birding destination was a little unconventional, since it was the parking lot next to Denny’s on the main drag through Sierra Vista.  Yesterday afternoon I had gone by there looking for the local raven I need, and I saw Great-tailed Grackles in that parking lot.  I needed the grackle again today, and again there were a couple of them in the parking lot.  Score!  Then I noticed a crow-like bird at the top of a pole.  They don’t have crows here, hard though that is to believe, and this was a CHIHUAHUAN RAVEN, the year-bird I was looking for there.  It was noticeably smaller than a Common Raven, and the bill was much less massive.  I got this picture so I could study the distance the feather bristles went out on the upper bill, but it seemed inconclusive to me.


What WAS conclusive, though was the white showing on the lower neck.  The neck feathers of Chihuahuan Raven are light gray colored at their bases, and the wind was ruffling the neck feathers of this bird enough to see that.  Here is another picture, also showing the light gray neck feather bases.


So, my great day continued with those two black birds, Great-tailed Grackle and Chihuahuan Raven.


My next stop was San Pedro House, near the San Pedro River, which is east of Sierra Vista.  I had visited there before a couple of times, both times in May.  In May the area between San Pedro House and the San Pedro River was completely brown and dry as dust.  In August, it was totally green, and here is a picture to show that.  The row of trees is along the river and they are always green, but the fields in between were totally brown in May.


This really was a great time to come to SE Arizona, in the rainy season.  There were clouds around all day, and that helped keep it cool, in the range from the high 70’s to the mid 80’s.  I got rained on just once, briefly, but I saw rain showers and lightning in the distance other times.


There are some old trees and bushes around San Pedro House, and I wandered around and looked for birds.  I didn’t want to walk as far as the river because of my Achilles tendon/heel issue, although that is improving every day.  I don’t want to over-stress it, though.


I soon added Gila Woodpecker and Curve-billed Thrasher to my Friday list.  Next was Lesser Goldfinch and then Yellow-breasted Chat.  I saw a young Summer Tanager and a male Blue Grosbeak at one place, and then later picked up White-winged Dove for my Friday list.  There was a warbler that I decided was a female Wilson’s Warbler, which I also needed for Friday.  Then I saw a Greater Roadrunner high in a tree.  I’ve seen roadrunners in trees before, but never this high up.  I wonder what it was doing up there.


On one of my little sojourns into the grasslands, I saw a bird in a bush, but it was too far away to identify it with binoculars.  I used my trusty 50X zoon camera to take some pictures, and I decided it was a female Bullock’s Oriole.  That was a great bird to see here, but I had already seen Bullock’s Oriole at home on a Friday, unfortunately.  Here is one of the pictures, anyway, in case I decide it was something else.


It was after noon by then, so I decided to move on.  As I was driving out, though, I saw some sparrows by the road and they turned out to be Black-throated Sparrows, another great Friday bird.


I drove to Ramsey Canyo n and ate my humble lunch, which I had brought from “home” today, by Ramsey Creek.  It was very pleasant there at an elevation of 5500 feet and a temperature of about 80 with a nice breeze.  Here is a picture of the creek where I ate at a nice little table on the bank of the creek, in the shade.


I had ham, cheese, Fritos, an apple, a blueberry muffin I had stolen from breakfast this morning, and my first Diet Coke of the trip.  It was a very pleasant lunch stop.


After lunch I went into the preserve, since I had paid yesterday and that’s good until Monday.  I wanted to see the Violet-crowned Hummingbird on her nest, for my Friday list, and I did.  I got this picture from a different angle than yesterday, and it shows more of her.


I walked a little way up the canyon, like yesterday, but I just am not in good enough shape for much walking uphill at 5500 feet elevation.  Last year in May I walked maybe a mile up the canyon, but I’m in much worse shape now, obviously.  I could have gone farther today, but I just didn’t feel like it.


Next I headed south for Ash Canyon B&B and its feeders, for the third day in a row.  One thing about DOTW birding is that when you find a good thing, you milk it every day, to add to the lists.  On the way I spotted this Swainson’s Hawk on a pole, for my Friday list.


Before I got to the road to my destination, I turned off the highway onto a smaller road, to have a pee.  I got this picture of a Cassin’s Kingbird that insisted that I take its picture.


Note the dark gray on the breast and the white “dash” under and in front of the eye.  Classic Cassin’s Kingbird markings.  I drove down that road a little because it looked like prime habitat for scrub-jay, and I had seen one along the highway nearby yesterday.  No scrub-jays today, but did see a sparrow at the top of a little tree.  It was too far to identify with binoculars, so I got out my camera again.  I took a lot of pictures and decided it was a Rufous-winged Sparrow, which isn’t real common in this area, but I believe that’s what it was, based on my very distant pictures.


I picked up Mexican Jay for Friday on my way in to Ash Canyon B&B from the highway.  When I got to the B&B I soon saw a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker.  I had seen females there the last two afternoons, but this was my first male Ladder-backed Woodpecker of the trip.


It’s a small woodpecker, just a little bigger than Downy Woodpecker.


I soon picked up the usual hummingbirds for my Friday list – Broad-billed, Black-chinned, Magnificent, and Lucifer.  Here is a picture of a male Lucifer Hummingbird from the front, showing off his color.


I moved to the back viewing area and added Canyon Towhee to my Friday list, and then three or four Bridled Titmice flew in and fed for a couple of minutes.  I was very pissed off at my camera, as it kept refusing to focus when I had one in my sights.  They never stuck around long, so a quick focus was important.


My final Friday species of the day was this male Northern Cardinal that fed for a minute or so.


The only species I had seen there the last two days that I missed today was Wild Turkey, I think.  I finally dragged myself away about 4:10 and took some residential streets part of the way back to my hotel, looking for quail where I had seen them last year.  No quail, and it was about 4:45 when I got back to my hotel.


I ended up getting 29 species for my Friday list, to bring me to 213 for Friday now, the highest day at this point.  I had three more year-birds today – Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, and Chihuahuan Raven.  That brings me to 53 year-birds on the trip, three over my goal, for a total of 303 so far this year.  I’m not likely to get any more year-birds at this point, although it is always possible to get incredibly lucky. 


I won’t get very many Saturday birds tomorrow, either, because I was here in Arizona last Saturday, so I’ve already seen the easy ones on Saturday.  I’m not sure what I’ll do tomorrow; I could drive up Carr Canyon and maybe get 2 or 3 new year-birds, but it is a rough road and thunderstorms are forecast for tomorrow again.  The road is very narrow and very steep, too, and I imagine that there will be more traffic on a weekend day.  Meeting another car on that narrow, steep road is no picnic.  If I feel really adventurous in the morning, I might do that, but more likely I’ll just repeat today’s itinerary.  We shall see.



Saturday, August 27, 2016


I woke up this morning feeling kind of “off”, and the feeling has lasted all day.  I suspect that it’s partly because of too much fat and too much alcohol in my diet.  I don’t know why I be so bad, as Johanna told Christina when Johanna was 4 or 5 years old.


I had the free hotel breakfast, and I headed out for my day.  I had plans that were similar to yesterday, but I planned to add another site that I’ve never been to before.  Since I was here in Arizona last Saturday, my Saturday list already had most of the easy birds on it and I knew that meant that I wouldn’t get many new Saturday birds today.  It also didn’t seem at all likely that I would see a new year-bird, unless I got very lucky.


My first stop was going to be lower Huachuca Canyon for the Eastern Bluebirds I had been seeing there.  I soon discovered that what I think of as the main gate to Fort Huachuca was closed.  I didn’t know if that was a regular weekend thing or if the fort was closed for some specific reason today.  I could have driven to the next gate, but it was five minutes up the road, and I didn’t bother.  Instead I drove down the main drag of Sierra Vista toward my next planned destination, San Pedro House.   On the way I stopped at Subway and picked up a tuna sandwich, some Cheetos, and a Diet Coke.


As I drove through town, I kept my eyes peeled for ravens, as I wanted to get Chihuahuan Raven again, and the best place to see them is in town.  I saw Great-tailed Grackles in a number of places (which I might take advantage of tomorrow, when I need to find a Sunday bird before I take off for the airport), but I didn’t need that one for Saturday.  I had seen them in late June on my way from Yosemite to Sacramento, at a park that is east of Sacramento.


I found a couple of ravens in the park in town, but they seemed large to me, and I couldn’t see any white on their necks, so I decided I couldn’t count them as Chihuahuan Ravens.  I got gas a little farther along the highway, and afterwards I saw a raven across the road.  I got close and decided it was small enough that it was a Chihuahuan Raven.  I also didn’t think that any self-respecting Common Raven would hang about in a shopping center parking lot.  That’s exactly what Chihuahuan Ravens do, though.  So that one went on my Saturday list.


I drove on to San Pedro House, and the parking lot was much more crowded on a Saturday than on a Friday.  I wandered around, and it seemed a lot less birdy than it had yesterday.  I did add Lark Sparrow to my Saturday list, and here’s a decent picture of Lark Sparrow.


I got a good look at a MacGillvray’s Warbler, an excellent bird here – migrating south at this time of year.  Unfortunately, Saturday was the one day of the week that I had seen a MacGillvray’s Warbler before this year.  I also saw a warbler-type bird that was all yellow, like a Yellow Warbler or a Wilson’s Warbler, but it had a prominent white eye ring, which neither of those species has.  I don’t know what it was;  I assume I remember it incorrectly in some respect, but I don’t know which respect.  Most likely would seem to be Yellow-breasted Chat, but that isn’t yellow on the back and the abdominal area is white.  It goes down as one of those mystery birds.


There were Gila Woodpeckers around, all over the place.  That seems to be a very common species here, but I needed it for Saturday because they aren’t common over at Madera Canyon, where I was last Saturday.  I saw a Vermilion Flycatcher that seemed kind of pale and kind of blotchy.  When I saw this picture I took and looked it up, I realized it was a first year male Vermilion Flycatcher.


I think “first year” in that context means it hatched last year, and this is its first full year of adulthood.


That was all I got there, and I left pretty soon.  I drove through town again, to check out the fort, but the gate by my hotel was still closed.  I stopped at the hotel and got some ice and my cooler for my sandwich and Diet Coke, and went on after that to Ramsey Canyon Preserve.  Saturday was different there, too.  On the weekdays I had been there, there were maybe 4 or 5 cars in the parking lot, but today the 24 space lot was full except for one place, which was the second to last one before I left the lot.  So, I took the last available place and went in and saw the female Violet-crowned Hummingbird on her little nest again, for my Saturday list.  I didn’t stay there long and I headed south and east to my new venue for the day.


That was Casa de San Pedro B&B.  It’s a pretty fancy B&B aimed at birders, somewhat too rich for my price range of accommodations.  I had called this morning, though, and they do allow day use for a five buck donation.  I “donated” my five bucks (Uncle Sam, it’s none of your business, it was a gift), and took my lunch to the shaded seating area in front of some feeders.  It wasn’t very inspiring, almost all House Finches and House Sparrows, with a few of the ubiquitous Gila Woodpeckers, who will feed at either seed feeders or hummingbird nectar feeders.  It was 88 degrees, but there was a nice breeze and I was in a comfortable chair in the shade, so I enjoyed my Subway feast.


I even got some birds.  There were 3 or 4 Inca Doves that kept coming back, and I hadn’t seen that species since Patagonia and I hadn’t seen them last Saturday (correction – I had seen them last Saturday, so it wasn’t a Saturday bird today).  A Blue Grosbeak happened to fly through and perch on a dead snag where I could see it, so that one went onto my Saturday list.  Then a Black Phoebe flew in.  I needed it for Saturday, and it was the first Black Phoebe (a flycatcher) that I’ve seen on this trip.  I even got this mediocre picture.


Then, to really top it off, I got a year bird – a juvenile PYRRULOXIA flew into a tree behind the feeders.  I only had a brief look and it didn’t stick around for a picture, unfortunately, but they are quite distinctive looking, with a reddish-tipped crest on the back of the head, much like a cardinal.  I even know how to pronounce that name, but you can look it up if you care.


I had another little flurry of excitement when I thought I had a Common Ground-Dove, which would have been a year-bird.  They are very small and have spots on their back.  As it turned out, though, it was only a Mourning Dove.  Common Ground-Dove is much smaller, but size is really tricky.  Here is the false alarm that turned out to be a Mourning Dove.


So, I added four Saturday birds there, and one of them was a year bird.  I also had a nice place to eat my lunch and I saw a place I had never been before.  Very cool.


Next I drove to the Ash Canyon B&B for the fourth day in a row.  There wasn’t a lot I could see there for my Saturday list, but I had a short list of four species I had seen there in the last three days that I needed on Saturday, so I made my five buck “donation” (like the Casa de San Pedro B&B, it’s on the honor system – you put the donation in a jar or a box as you enter) and went on in.


I got the first of my four targets right away, Ladder-backed Woodpecker.  A couple came in after me and sat next to me in the shade, and we talked about the birds.  They turned out not to know much, so I became the expert (a role that Brugman men fall into all too easily), and I pointed out the male Lucifer Hummingbird when it showed up.  That was my second target species there.  I didn’t need it for Saturday, but it’s a blue colored bird, so here is a picture of a Mexican Jay.


I moved into the back yard to look for the other two species I wanted for my Saturday list.  First to show up was Canyon Towhee, and I got this picture.


It was pretty slow, but I had lots of time.  Eventually a single Bridled Titmouse came in and got seeds a few times.  I managed to get one halfway decent picture of it this time.  They don’t stay still for long.


Having achieved my four species target, I headed north again.  On the way north I saw three large hawks on poles at different places.  I went back each time to see if it was a Swainson’s Hawk, but each time it was a Red-tailed Hawk instead. 


It was early enough that I decided to try the other gate to the fort that I knew of.  That one was indeed open, and I drove in and made my way to my bluebird spot.  Alas, no bluebirds today.  Maybe it was because it was afternoon and they have somewhere else they feed in the afternoon.  I drove around and never saw one, though.  I did drive up to the lower picnic area, just on the very low probability that I might see one of the two great birds I had seen there yesterday, Elegant Trogon or Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher.  It was very quiet, though, and all I saw were a couple of Lesser Goldfinches, which I didn’t need for Saturday.


I gave it up then and stopped on my way out to check out the bluebird site again.  No bluebirds, but this time I did get this picture of a female Vermilion Flycatcher.


So, I was done with birding for the day, but on the way back to the Van Deman gate to get off the fort, I saw a bird next to the road, and it turned out to be a Say’s Phoebe, another flycatcher species, and one I needed for Saturday.  I didn’t bother going back to try for a picture.  I was ready to call it a day.


When all was said and done, I had added 13 species to my Saturday list, to bring it to 206 species.  I got one more year-bird, too, to bring me to a total of 54 new year-birds on the trip, and my goal was to get 50.  That makes a total of 304 species for me this year so far.  Think about it – that’s a lot of species of birds.  How many people can even recognize and name 10 or 20 species, let alone 304?  Birding has been a really great hobby for me in my sunset years.


Tomorrow I head for home.  I have enjoyed the trip and I’m very glad I did it, but I will also be very glad to get home.  I’ll eat better and drink less, and I can get back into my familiar routines.  The older I get, the more important my familiar routines get for me.  I have a couple of ideas to get a Sunday bird tomorrow, to keep my streak alive on my travel day.  I have a 3 hour drive to Phoenix to catch a 2:45 flight, so I don’t have much time, but I have some ideas, as I said.  What a life!



Sunday, August 28, 2016


I slept great last night and was up and out by 8:40, quite early by my standards.  I had about a 2 hour and 45 minute drive to Phoenix, and it went smoothly.  By the time I got to Phoenix the temperature outside had risen to 96, but it was cool and comfortable in my rental car.  I gassed up the car and proceeded to Kiwanis Park in Tempe, which is about 9 miles from the airport.  I had seen three species there last Saturday that I needed for Sunday, and my plan was to see one of them today to keep my streak alive.


The main one I expected to see was Rosy-faced Lovebird.  They had been really easy to see last Saturday, but it was about 9 AM then.  This was at about 11:30 AM, and as I mentioned, the temperature was about 96 out there.  All was quiet.  I didn't see any parrot-type birds at all.  They nest in palm trees, and last week I saw them immediately in those palm trees.  Not today.  I tried for a while from the comfort of my air conditioned car, but eventually I decided I had to get out and look and listen for them  Supposedly, they are quite noisy.


I walked around a little, and I heard some bird sounds that might have been parrots, but they also might have been the Great-tailed Grackles that were all over the place.  Grackles make some really odd sounds.  Eventually I spotted a lone Rosy-faced Lovebird in a deciduous tree, and it seemed to be asleep.  I took pictures, but I had to stand in the sun and point the camera upward toward the sun, so the pictures I took are terrible.  Still, they are really cute little birds, so here are some pictures of my Sunday bird for today, Rosy-faced Lovebird.  In this first one, the bird appeared to be sleeping.


After a couple of minutes, it woke up.


Then it preened for a while.


Evidently there was another one on the other side of this one, or maybe it was in a hole in the tree.  Anyway, it came out and they seemed to be kissing and snuggling.  Hence the name Lovebird?  I suppose they were grooming each other, but it sure looked like they were being affectionate.  Here is a picture of the pair of them.


By that time I had been standing in the sun in the 96 degree heat for ten or fifteen minutes, and I was heating up.  I retired to my car, drove to the airport, etc, and got in to Seattle at about 5:30 PM, after a pleasant flight.  I was flying first class with frequent flyer miles that I get from our Visa card, and that is so much more pleasant than coach - especially for a person of size, like me.  I had a bourbon, three glasses of very nice San Michelle Sauvignon Blanc, and a good chicken salad - and the time passed quickly and pleasantly.  There sure is a lot of empty brown land between Phoenix and Western Washington, though.


So, that was my spur-of-the-moment nine day Arizona trip.  It kept my DOTW birding streak alive and added 54 birds to my year list, to bring my year list to 304 species.  Of those 54 year birds, I only saw three of them on all seven days of the week while in Arizona.  White-winged Dove, Broad-billed Hummingbird, and Black-chinned Hummingbird.  I would have thought there would be more species that were common enough to see them on all seven days of the week, but that was it.  I might have also seen Cassin's Kingbird and Lesser Goldfinch on all seven days of the week on the trip, but I already had each of those two species on a couple of days before I left.


I feel like my DOTW birding thing is just about ended now.  I want to finish out August, which should be easy if I'm willing to drive to Everett a couple of times and Edmonds once.  Each is about a half hour drive each way, so I'll probably do that, although I'm losing interest in extending the streak, frankly.  It would be three more days to finish off August, and four more days if I want to end on an even number of weeks for the year.  I should be able to do that, and then I can take some time off from birding every day.