Wednesday, January 17, 2018

January 17th: Lots of cool stuff

Today I went to a lot of spots southwest and west of Phoenix.  I can't remember the last time I had a solid local day in Maricopa County where I visited a lot of spots all day long.  Gila County can be thanked for that.

I started the day of at Baseline and Meridian Wildlife Area, where I was in pursuit of a Black-throated Green Warbler that Caleb Strand discovered last year.  I missed this bird a few days ago on an afternoon jaunt, but on this morning jaunt today, the time of day was really all the difference needed.  Just minutes into my search, the Black-throated Green Warbler popped up and gave me some awesome looks.  It now joins the Louisiana Waterthrush and Prairie Warbler in the awesome warbler department for 2018.

The Thrasher Spot was up next.  I had awesome looks at a Crissal Thrasher on the ground in front of me, as well other highlights in Le Conte's and Bendire's Thrashers, and Sagebrush and Bell's Sparrows.

One of the many spots I visited was the spot where Dara found the Tennessee Warbler and Golden-crowned Kinglet.  There was no activity, probably because this guy was sitting there.

Gillespie Dam had a lot of American White Pelicans.

Burrowing Owls highlighted the Old US 80.

I managed to find a few Bell's Sparrows at Robbin's Butte.

Two cool woodpeckers:  Lewis's and Acorn, highlighted Verrado.  Verrado is going to keep getting better and better too.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

January 12th and 14th: Warblers and Ducks

Wintering warblers and ducks often highlight January in Maricopa County.  They do in other Arizona counties, I'm just speaking on behalf of my home county right now, cause I haven't had much time to travel elsewhere.  Over the last few days I've seen some cool birds, and one duck in particular was a big highlight.

January 12th, Gilbert Water Ranch:  I went to Gilbert Water Ranch after work on the 12th.  I had five targets:  Greater Scaup (which was new for GWR for me), Rufous-backed Robin, Chestnut-sided Warbler, American Redstart, and Northern Parula.  It didn't take me long to find four of my targets, with the missing one being the Rufous-backed Robin.  I photographed the Scaup and Redstart, and didn't quite have the patience to attempt photos at Chestnut-sided Warbler and Northern Parula.  The latter two mentioned stayed high in thick cottonwood and willow foliage.  My friend Melissa Okimoto joined me for the Rufous-backed Robin search, and we couldn't locate the elusive bird.  In two hours of birding at Gilbert, a variety of other birds were included beyond the targets.  It's always a classically fun place to bird.  Here are some photos of the Greater Scaup and American Redstart.

Today on January 14th, I went to Lake Pleasant after I got off of work.  My primary target here was an adult male Barrow's Goldeneye that Steve Hosmer found a few days ago.  There have also been Horned Grebes, Common Loon, and a flock of four Surf Scoters present on the lake.  When I got to Lake Pleasant, I ran into Moe Bertrand and Louis Hoeniger as they were looking at the Barrow's Goldeneye.  I was relieved the Barrow's was present.  I spent half the time birding with Moe and Louis, and we spotted some good birds.  The Surf Scoters eluded me less than two hours after Moe and Louis got to see them.  My sole reason for going was for the Barrow's Goldeneye.  It is a freaking awesome bird.  It was also my third Barrow's Goldeneye for Maricopa County.  When I get Maricopa County birds for the first time, I love to document them for the memory.  The previous two Barrow's Goldeneyes were both distant for my camera and I couldn't get pictures.  One of them was an adult male I discovered, also at Lake Pleasant.  As soon as I got in photographic range, he took off and wasn't seen again.  This one finally gave me that chance at the first Barrow's I've been able to get documentary photos of in Maricopa County.  It was awesome, and was a huge highlight for me early into this 2018.  And quite oddly, he hangs out with a flock of female Common Goldeneye..

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

January 10th: A Prairie Warbler!

On January 10th, Caleb Strand, Mark Brogie, Ellen Brogie, and I, teamed up and birded in the Sunflower area of northern Maricopa County.  We followed that up with a visit to the Salt River for over three hours.  It was a very fun day, and the four of us made a great team.  Mark and Ellen are snowbirds from Nebraska, where they are awesome birders too.  Mark keeps incredible records for the state of Nebraska.

At Sunflower, we had highlights of Mountain Chickadees, Olive Warbler, Townsend's Solitaire, and more.  There wasn't anything to scream about, but it was a pleasant time in an on and off rain period.

The Lower Salt River Recreation Area via Saguaro Lake provided the best enjoyment.  At Butcher Jones Recreation Site we were treated to a fearless Sora as well as two Pyrrhuloxias feeding in the picnic area.

On January 5th, a Prairie Warbler was reported from Saguaro Lake.  Lauren Harter found out about where it was seen, and today, the four of us went to check it out on one of our stops.  We were shocked about the location being one to harbor a Prairie Warbler.  I description written by David Wiedenfeld, the bird's finder, had a good description.  We looked around for a bit and really weren't feeling like we would re-find the warbler.  While looking at birds on the lake, we heard a chip note behind us after thirty minutes of looking and deciding not to look for the Prairie Warbler anymore.  It was the Prairie Warbler himself, and it was incredible.  The warbler found us, we didn't find it.  Once it found us, we enjoyed it for over thirty minutes as it worked mesquite and paloverde trees lining the lake.  At times it went elsewhere into dry desert areas.  Throughout our times watching it, it put on a show for us.  It was incredible to me that I had just seen my life Prairie Warbler only two months ago in Gilbert, and now I was looking at my second one two months later.  This one is an adult male, and is striking.  It is a much better looking warbler than the young first year bird that many saw at Gilbert Water Ranch!