Road Trip South

cactus-wrenCactus Wren

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On our too infrequent road trips, we usually head north of Phoenix but one day last week we headed south. Of course, I was in search of birds, one particular bird, and Tony was willing to come along. We saw places we had never been before so that’s always interesting.

First stop was Picacho Peak State Park.

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While there, I got my first Lifer of the day, and there were several of these guys!

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black-throated-sparrow-1Black-throated Sparrow

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Unfortuately, I didn’t think to take a photo of Picacho Peak itself until we had already moved on to our next destination. It’s a rugged mountain but we didn’t climb it, of course. The “easy” trail we were on was hard enough and I’ve decided to not do any climbing again. I’ll stick to flatter areas especially when carrying a big camera and lens.

Our next destination was Red Rock where there is a large feedlot. There were a lot of cows, of course, and a lot of birds (mostly Red-winged Blackbirds, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, House Sparrows, and Starlings). This was where I got my second Lifer of the day but I didn’t know what it was until we got home later that night and I could do some research (meaning people in my Facebook birding group ID’ed it).

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lark-bunting-2Lark Bunting

Next we were on to the location where I hoped to find my “Target Bird.” This region is called Santa Cruz Flats, a large area of farmlands, dusty fields, and dirt roads. There are a lot of birds but they can be pretty far off in the fields so it’s hard to get close views.

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We drove around a lot of dirt roads since we didn’t have a specific location where the target bird might be as they are found all along that area. But, guess what? We spotted ONE of the birds pretty quickly which is a good thing because in all our continued driving in search of more, that was the only one we saw. They are bizarre-looking critters.

crested-caracaraCrested Caracara

“A tropical falcon version of a vulture, the Crested Caracara reaches the United States only in Arizona, Texas, and Florida. It is a bird of open country, where it often is seen at carrion with vultures” (from Cornell’s All About Birds, where you can see some better shots of them).

We did see quite a few flying raptors but I’m not good at identifying them high up in the sky.

rt-hawkRed-tailed Hawk

says-phoebeSay’s Phoebe

Already happy to have 3 Lifers in one day, as we were nearing the end of our dirt road trek, we spotted my 4th Lifer!

loggerhead-shrikeLoggerhead Shrike

These guys impale their kills of insects, birds, lizards, and small mammals on barbed wire or thorns. I was glad to not witness that part of their behavior.

Quite a successful day and a good start to my 2017 goal of 60 Lifers. We definitely will need to go on more road trips to accomplish that.

Tiny Cuties

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yrwa-3Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, male

These cute guys show up in the Phoenix area in the winter but they’re so fast that it’s often hard to get a clear shot. However, this little guy was very cooperative the other day at the Desert Botanical Garden and almost seemed to enjoy my attention. So did this guy, who let me get about a foot away from him:

costasCosta’s Hummingbird, male

I never see Costa’s in my yard. We have many Anna’s year-round and a couple Black-chinned in the spring.

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annas-1-1-17Anna’s Hummingbirds, male

My little yellow yard bird has done many cute things lately.

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ocwa-suet-12-30-16Orange-crowned Warbler, male

And the tiny Verdins are always busy and love their fruit:

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verdin-pomVerdins

finch-chollaHouse Finch, female

finch-12-30-16House Finch, male

Did you know that House Finches were originally a southwestern bird but can now be found all over the US? I just found that out recently.

black-phoebe-sculpture_edited-1Black Phoebe

I’ve been to two places in the last week looking for specific Lifers and didn’t find either! I’m declaring two 2017 Goals here:

  1. Find at least 60 Lifers (this will require more day trips but as Tony is now retired, he is willing to come along to interesting places).
  2. Volunteer at the Desert Botanical Garden for at least 100 hours (which isn’t really much over a 52 week period).

Do you have any goals you want to put into writing this year?

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Looking Ahead to 2017

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cw-12-28-16Cactus Wrens (Arizona State Bird)

rmr(above graphic credit)

gilded-flickerGilded Flicker

queenQueen Butterfly

mock-12-28-16Northern Mockingbird (pondering what lies ahead)

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Wishing all of us peace, love, and understanding…as well as health and prosperity in 2017!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

Christmas 2016

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

And a few more from Christmases Past…

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The Festivities Begin…

thrasher-antlersCurve-billed Thrasher (being a Grinch)

santa-verdinVerdin

says-phoebe-ornamentSay’s Phoebe

Everywhere I go, the birds seem to be really getting into the holiday spirit this year…that’s a good thing.

Starlings in Cactus with ornament_edited-2European Starlings

Christmas Mocks psNorthern Mockingbirds

Lovebird with lightsRosy-faced Lovebird

Let It SnowCosta’s Hummingbird, female

DSC_8054_edited-2Verdin Nest

We, on the other hand, have yet to decorate our tree, although it’s up. Most presents are bought and sent, most Christmas cards are out…still a few things to do but it always gets done in the end.

Hope your holiday season is going well so far…

cardinal