Global Big Day

Desert Spiny Lizard (regrowing his tail after some incident or accident)

Phainopepla, male

On May 5, Global Big Day, 28,000 people ventured outside in 170 countries, finding 6899 species: 2/3rds of the world’s bird species in one day. This is a new world record for birding and more birds seen by the Global Big Day team than any one person has ever seen in an entire year. You can read more about the results here.

My birding friend, Karen, and I went to Hassayampa Reserve Preserve, near Wickenburg, that day so that we could participate. By submitting our sightings to ebird.org, our results are included in all this data, too.

I have a slight disclaimer. While we did see many Desert Spiny Lizards and Phainopeplas that day, the above 2 photos are actually from another day when I was at Desert Botanical Garden because the shots I got on May 5 were not as good. That said, all the following shots were taken at Hassayampa on May 5. It is very dense and dark there, tree-wise, so I’m not pleased with many of these shots.

Yellow-breasted Chat (lifer)

This bird, above, was the bird both of us were most hoping to see as it was a lifer for both of us. They were very elusive but I finally got a couple mediocre shots. You can see, in the second photo, that this bird has a band around its left leg.

I got 2 more lifers that day (with no photos):

Common Yellowthroat
Lazuli Bunting~the male is gorgeous but we saw only the female, pretty but not nearly as colorful

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Myrtle subspecies

The above bird was a little unusual to see as we usually see the Audubon’s subspecies around here. The Audubon’s has a yellow throat and the Myrtle has a white throat and other subtle differences.

Vermilion Flycatchers, male and female

Wilson’s Warbler, male

Townsend’s Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Song Sparrow

Summer Tanager, male

Pine Siskin

Red-winged Blackbirds, male and female

Ornate Tree Lizard

A couple more excerpts from the article I mentioned earlier:

For the second year in a row, Colombia led the world in bird species on Global Big Day. The herculean efforts of the Colombian birding community found an unfathomable 1546 species in one country in one day.

The final US tally was 716, bolstered by great totals from Texas (408), California (361), and Arizona (310). US eBirders also documented 577 species with photographs in their eBird checklists, and 172 with audio—quite remarkable!

And there you have it—another birding world record in the books! Never before have so many birders gone out in this many countries, found so many birds, and noted them all down in eBird for their fellow birders, researchers, and conservationists.

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Montezuma Well

Variegated Fritillary

Montezuma Well is part of Montezuma Castle National Monument in Rimrock, AZ (even though it’s in a location several miles away). It is a natural limestone sinkhole that has been home to many ancient cultures, spanning more than 1,000 years, including the Sinagua, Hohokam, and Salado peoples. By 1425, the people had migrated to other areas but the Well is still a sacred place for the Hopi, Zuni, Yavapai, Western Apache, and other Native American cultures.

The Well itself is 386 feet in diameter and holds over 15 million gallons of water. It is fed by Beaver Creek through a long, narrow cave (called the swallet) to reapppear on the other side at the outlet. The water contains arsenic and high quantities of carbon dioxide so fish cannot live in it but five endemic species have evolved here that exist nowhere else on the planet: amphipods, predatory leeches (not blood-suckers), water scorpions, spring snails, and a unique, single-celled diatom.

The people of the Sinagua culture began building the dwellings in the cliffs around the Well seen here.

These 125 steps, above, lead to the swallet. We went, instead, to the outlet which was only 45 steps down.

The largest sycamore tree in Arizona is down at the outlet.

Creekside

Along the creek at the outlet

I’m pleased that I finally broke my losing streak of ZERO lifers lately by finding one down by the outlet.

Summer Tanager, male (lifer)

We also saw the female but she was shyer and much less colorful. We also spotted a few other birds that we don’t see too often.

Bridled Titmouse

Brewer’s Sparrow

Western Wood-Pewee

There are ruins of other cultures scattered over the whole area.

Sinagua Dwelling

The ranger told us that we could probably see a Great Horned Owl if we went over to the picnic area. After much searching through the big cottonwoods and sycamores, Tony spotted him!

Okay, not really, but it had us fooled for a minute. We never did find the real owl.

Here is a short, minute-and-a-half video that the National Park Service did about the Well. This really is a strange and fascinating place.