Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Chase To Tucson

On December 14th, 2013, the Phoenician Kingbirds were at it again...birding and rarity hunting.  I joined fellow birders Mark Ochs and Gordon Karre and we sped down to Tucson for some epic birding, mainly in search of some of the rarities that have been found there recently.  Our chase included 3 eastern warblers, all of which were lifers for Gordon, and were all 2nd timers for me (with one being a highly wanted year bird).

When we got to Tucson, we decided to check out a fenced off and rather ugly looking pond behind a building.  This pond has ironically been holding a female Black Scoter in it for quite some time!  All three Scoter species are rare in Arizona, and Black is the rarest of the three.  With this bird being in the middle of Tucson like this at a convenient viewing area, it has attracted many birders.  Most of the time, it has it's own little corner that it likes to hide in.

The Phoenician Kingbirds have a reputation of making the best out of every situation.  These duties are especially up to Mark, and Mark somehow got the Black Scoter to come closer.  I still ask myself how he did it.

Black Scoter

And Mark simply said, "A job well done!"

We then went to Reid Park, which has held many rarities of it's own and is right next door to the Scoter Pond, which was actually referred to as the Hardesty Building Pond.  Back to Reid, Reid was currently hosting a dull first-fall female Pine Warbler in midst of the abundant Yellow-rumped Warblers.  There were many dull first-fall Yellow-rumped Warblers around, which made things very confusing too.  When we got to the park, we quickly found the large Yellow-rumped flock, which were pigging out on a leftover piece of birthday cake.

At times the first-fall Yellow-rumped Warblers would make us jump because they were also very dull, just like our target first-fall female Pine Warbler.

A first fall Pine Warbler doesn't have streaking on it's breast, and these young Yellow-rumps do.  After awhile, the Pine Warbler did come down to the cake bench, as the three of us were viewing the bench from the elevated children's playground.

Pine Warbler

This bird had a different look to it and after looking at so many Yellow-rumped Warblers, it actually stood out!  After the Pine, we went to the next stop, which held another eastern warbler.  The stop was Tanque Verde Wash, and the warbler was the Magnolia Warbler.  Within minutes, Gordon spied the Magnolia Warbler foraging low, and we enjoyed very good looks at this bird for over 30 minutes.  Like the Pine Warbler, this Magnolia Warbler was also a first-fall bird.  But unlike the Pine Warbler, the Magnolia Warbler is very bright and colorful.

Magnolia Warbler

This was only my second time ever of seeing a Magnolia Warbler, with the first being in 2011 at the Hassayampa River Preserve.  It was the same plumage as this bird.  In all plumages, Magnolia Warbler is distinctive due to the look of the "black-tip" on it's tail where birders call it the "ink-tipped tail.

Up next was the Evergreen Cemetery in Tucson.  Earlier in the year at this location, I saw my first ever Pine Warbler, which was a nice adult.  This time at the cemetery, we were briefly checking on a Greater Pewee that has been residing at the cemetery.  We didn't see the Pewee, but we did have two very good consolations with a rather rare "Yellow-shafted" Northern Flicker and a Merlin.

"Yellow-shafted" Northern Flicker


We then went for lunch at Arby's before our final stop in search of a Louisiana Waterthrush along the Santa Cruz River.  I wanted to see another Louie and Gordon wanted his first.  Gordon and I searched along the River and heard the bird numerous times and caught a few glimpses of it, but were never able to get a clear view of it in 1.5 hours.  While Gordon and I searched, Mark stood up on the bridge and had fun imitating different bird sounds.

After Tucson, Gordon and I then continued onto Veterans Oasis Park in Chandler.  We got to see several goodies before heading back home for the day.

Horned Grebe (Gordon's first in Maricopa to complete his N.A. Grebe list in the County!)

Common Gallinule

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