Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Birding with the Witzemans!

Hi everyone,

Yesterday on November 12th, 2013, I spent a very fun day of birding with Janet and Bob Witzeman.  We birded the Thrasher Spot, the Arlington Area, Lower River Road Ponds, the Old Highway 80 almost south to Gila Bend, and the beginning stretch of Tres Rios.

We started our day at the Thrasher Spot.  The main objective of the trip was to find Bell's Sparrow, which Janet and Bob haven't gotten to see since the split.  We didn't suspect it would take too long to come up with a Bell's, but we were wrong.  SAGEBRUSH SPARROWS were everywhere, and we estimated between 40-50 birds as we covered both sides of the Highway at the Salome Highway/Baseline Road intersection.  After 2.5 hours of searching, we got tired of looking for them and decided to call it quits as the bird activity was very low at 10:30.  As we were almost back to the vehicle, we saw a few Sage Sparrow species running around and we investigated.  One of them popped up cooperatively, and it was a nice BELL'S SPARROW!  It's field marks really stood out (thick black malar, plain unstreaked back etc.) and we left the Thrasher Spot successfully.  We also heard two LE CONTE'S THRASHERS giving their "wiieerrrp" call, and we also had great visuals of a perched and singing BENDIRE'S THRASHER.  After I went out there a few weeks ago and the first Sage Sparrow species I looked at was a Bell's, it seemed weird to have the last one we looked at be a Bell's.  Crazy how things turn out!

Sagebrush Sparrows

Bendire's Thrasher

At the Lower River Road Ponds, we had about 40 AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS loafing on the ponds, as well as a flyby flock of RING-BILLED GULLS.

American White Pelicans

In the Arlington Valley, we noted 25 SANDHILL CRANES, and there was also a large kettle of BLACK VULTURES.  In a stretch of less than a mile, we had 4 GREATER ROADRUNNERS cross the road!

We didn't see as many raptors on the route as usual, but 3 FERRUGINOUS HAWKS were nice.

On our way to Tres Rios, we enjoyed a pair of BURROWING OWLS along Broadway Road.  At Tres Rios during a 20 minute stop, we enjoyed large flocks of YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS and heard several LEAST BITTERNS calling.  Thanks for a fun and awesome birding day Janet and Bob!

Burrowing Owls

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