Monday, November 18, 2013

Fresh Out of the OVEN

Hi everyone,

I spent a fun morning and afternoon birding Lake Pleasant and Morgan City Wash.

My first stop of the two was Lake Pleasant, which I usually would do second of the two.  Because it seems to usually get windy every time I go to Lake Pleasant, I wanted to start there, in hopes of unusual waterbirds.  I didn't find anything out of the ordinary, a COMMON LOON was my best find on the north side of Lake Pleasant.  Out of the hundreds of Western/Clark's Grebes scattered throughout the reservoir, some were in range of safe identification.  I was able to pick out two CLARK'S GREBES out of this bunch.  A distant mixed flock of ducks held REDHEAD, LESSER SCAUP, RING-NECKED DUCK, and a male AMERICAN WIGEON.  RING-BILLED GULLS were the only gulls present, no sign of the Mew Gull.

It then came into my head that Troy Corman's Ovenbird was still probably at Morgan City Wash.  Having only seen this species once in my life previously, I really wanted to see it a second time.  After receiving excellent text message directions from Justin Jones (thanks Justin!), I made a blitz through Morgan City Wash starting at 11:20 A.M. to the location where Troy and Justin observed the Ovenbird over a week ago.  On my way there during my rush, a few birds caught my attention, and they were the only birds I looked at on my way there.  As I crossed under the bridge at the access point to Morgan City Wash, I saw a small wren that I got on quickly that turned out to be a WINTER WREN.  The wren favored dense tangles of fallen wood around the bridge, and in a funny sense, on both sides of the bridge.  It didn't fly over the bridge to get to the other side, but flew down the tunnel.  It gave it's distinctive double-call note that sounds similar to a Song Sparrow.  As I continued up Morgan City Wash quickly without stopping, I stopped for a quick water break at one of the stream crossings.  A sparrow was foraging in some of the marshy habitat near the trail, and it turned out to be a SWAMP SPARROW.  My next stop was at the spot was where Troy and Justin observed the Ovenbird last week.  As I approached the spot, I looked on the ground and the OVENBIRD was walking across the wash!!  I got a 20 second look and managed very poor, but still diagnostic photos.  It was great to see this bird, and it was less than an hour later from when I parked and started the quick hike through the dense wash.  The Ovenbird was walking along a clearing with many leaves on the ground, and it quickly vanished and didn't resurface in the hour I spent waiting for it to come back.  Troy finds a plethora of great rarities at this place annually, and I usually chase the birds and miss them.  It was nice to be on the lucky side today!

Winter Wren

Ovenbird (Crappy but diagnostic)

Other highlights at Morgan City Wash included a GREAT HORNED OWL, COOPER'S HAWK, and 5 other WREN SPECIES (Rock, Canyon, Marsh, House, and Bewick's).  At Lake Pleasant, I did see plenty of CACTUS WRENS, which ended in a 7 Wren day.  Almost four hours later, I got done with Morgan City Wash in an excellent outing for a mid-day.  37 species for Morgan City.  Another great day of birding.

Great Horned Owl

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