I look at my work schedule for my job at the hospital. Work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work....
That's right, I said work nine times (it feels like way more!). My schedule at work for 2014 has started out rough, and I have to work the first 9 days of 2014 before any days off, and yet alone...any real birding days.
On the first two days of the year, I had to work two 12 hours shifts in a row, followed by an 8 hour shift the next day. I figured I would hide from the parking lot Rock Pigeons, Grackles, and House Sparrows in the parking lot at the hospital these first three days to avoid a lousy bird to start my year off. I had planned to drive somewhere close and at least get a decent bird to start off 2014. But when I got fuming mad on January 2nd at my work phone (a very common occurrence), I went outside without thinking to get fresh air. I then...heard it. "TEEK". It was the call of a House Sparrow. I kicked myself and ruined my goal of starting the year off with a decent bird.
I thought, "hey, might as well get the rest of the dummies out of the way!". I walked around the surrounding neighborhoods of the hospital and had an abundance of Eurasian Trash Doves, Rock Pigeons, Great-tailed Grackles, European Starlings, etc. I did get 8 other birds I much would've rather started out with, such as Anna's Hummingbird or Orange-crowned Warbler, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet to make it a little fun.
On January 4th, I decided to go for my first bird of 2014 that is worth the mention on my way to church. Because Arrowhead Lakes is very close to CCV, I went there for an hour before the service. Last winter, a Eurasian Wigeon was found along Arrowhead Loop Road with American Wigeons only to be found again this winter. I decided to go look at it. And who wouldn't want to look at it, it's a cool duck! The area these birds like is a stream area running through these fancy golf course-dominated neighborhoods. As I drove up, I saw the Wigeon from a distance.
I got out of the truck and got easy and "killer" views of the Eurasian Wigeon drake. Cool bird eh?
The Eurasian Wigeon is rare but annual in Arizona, especially in the Phoenix area somewhere or another or a few...
After seeing the Eurasian Wigeon, I went over to Thunderbird Viewing Blinds Park to see what was up. This location was the spot for the awesome Lesser Black-backed Gull that showed up at the end of last year, a lifer for me and many others. This spot is the wintering nation of the Common Merganser. I've never seen so many mergansers in my life at a location like this one, and as many as 2000 have been counted on this medium-sized lake. Here is a panorama view of a third of the flock.
They can really cram them in a small spot too! How many can you count in this frame?
Here's a "small" raft
I'm looking forward to my first full day of birding in 2014! The Wigeons and Mergansers are good first highlights.