Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Tufted Angels

The Tufted Angels come together and discover new territory and birds!
The last two weeks in Southeastern Arizona have been awesome thanks to TWO rare visiting bird species.  Birders from all over the US quickly assembled and are currently hiking a major trail to find a tiny little bird.  With all the birders involved, I knew it was going to be difficult to actually get a good pic of the bird.  However, it didn't stop me from the photo shoot of our trek down.  The Band of Birders once again united for this very special day as we hiked over 8.2 miles for a code 5 bird.  The Tufted Flycatcher. 



We began our journey at the top of Carr Canyon which is located in the Huachuca Mountains. There we began our descent through rock, forest and mountain stream. 


As we made our way down, we faced rocky slopes and several steep climbs.  At one point, Magill took a spill and landed on her knee.  


Along the way, we had absolutely beautiful vistas of both the canyons.  There were several places where cliff and trail met up.  


At several places, we encountered poison ivy.  There wasn't any avoiding the plant as it spilled from both sides onto the trail.  When I got home, I took a shower!


As we got closer to the area where the Tufted Flycatcher was seen, we encountered the running mountain stream.  On several occasions, we had to figure out how we'd cross without getting the shoes wet. Wet shoes on a slope can be a bad thing. 


Gordon weighs in on the rickety looking bridge.  It is decided we'd chance it on the rocks instead:)  As we approached our coordinates, we found our secret society of birders all standing in the "spot". 


It was a beautiful moment.  I love it when a special bird makes its way into a sacred part of the world that not many people see.  We all stood and patiently waited for the bird to fly near its "possible" nesting location. I saw one bird.  But from other photographers and reliable sources, I saw pictures of a nest and a different looking TUFL.  So......


As the bird flew in, the crowd became extremely happy. Several photographers snapped off lots and lots of camera shots.  I was one of them:)  Well I tried!  The bird reminded me of a Tyrannulet in the way it flew.  It perched like a Pewee.  Physically, it was buffy like a Buff-breasted Flycatcher but with the tuft of a Juniper Titmouse!  


This is only the 8th recorded sighting of the bird in the US. As mentioned previously, two birds and a nest were reported.  If this is the case, it would be the first time that this Mexican species has ever nested in Arizona.  And that is a big deal. 


My pic of this bird is terrible, but like the Flame-colored Tanager, I know I'll have more opportunities to see this bird again when I'm in its expected habitat.  For now, I just thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the hike, being with friends and finding the bird. For many birders, it will be a story shared with people for many years to come.   


After about an hour with the Tufted Flycatcher, we continued on down to Ramsey Canyon so that the crew could get their Flame-colored Tanager for the year.  Again, the birds weren't too cooperative, but they did show.  


Our team member, Tommy D, took one for the team by heading back up to Carr Canyon so that he could bring Gordon's vehicle back down to Ramsey.  The group members were thankful.  Several birders hiked back with him and I know it made the time pass by quickly. 


Birding in Arizona is epic.  We have been enjoying wonderful weather here.  During several parts of our hike, we were actually cold!  Cold in May is something of a gift to us.   If anyone decides to chase this bird, remember to bring enough water for the trek.  Several of us brought our camelpacks.  I'm glad I did!  I drank the whole thing!


The day wouldn't have been the day without the group.  It's always special when we all can set aside a day together and go find an amazing bird.  We can be intense.  But we also laugh a lot. As we finished our day at a Mexican restaurant, I saw a real bond.  One that is caring and one of mutual respect.  I was so grateful to share that moment together. What a way to start the summer vacation!  Until next time everyone..... 



PS.  And for the poor photos of birds this week, I give you a random Wood Duck I found in one of our local parks this week.  This is a drake(or male) and it made my evening.  

32 comments:

  1. Looks like you all had a wonderful time! You wood duck shot is awesome- they are so pretty.

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  2. Great Shots! Seeing a TUFL is a great find and shot! what kind of camera do you use?

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    1. Thank you Jesus! I use a Nikkon D5200 with a 55-300 lens. One day I'll be able to get closer to this bird:) life birds are tricky the first time around because the binos come first and then the camera:)

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  3. I enjoyed the trek. That's about as close as I will get to walking 8 miles!!
    I have always wondered about the wood ducks coloring. It certainly can't be camouflage.
    It must be a way to attract females. God was in a good mood that day, for sure.

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  4. O lugar deve ser lindo, e as fotos são maravilhosa. Um passeio fantástico.

    Andei um pouco ausente por isso a demora em aparecer por aqui.
    Um abraço e ótima semana!

    Blog da Smareis- É só clicar aqui!

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  5. How much fun is that: to hike in a gorgeous area and to be with other excited Birders!!!!!! AND---to see those rare birds is such a great experience. Sounds fabulous!!!!

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  6. I enjoyed your whole hike. Amazing that you got those bird shots. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Pilchard has been studying up and was able to identify your wood duck without prompting! And I know it's heresy, but that hike looks so awesome I'd do it without the promise of a bird at the end of it :D

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    1. That's wonderful! I can do that with only some of your birds. I appreciate you sharing your world so I know areas to visit for the birds. However, it's pretty crazy....there's a lot of ground to cover over in OZ! I can't wait. Hopefully, we'll all be able to meet one day:)

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  8. That looks like a great trip....running stream is as rare in the SW as feeling cold in May! Seems like plants, you might look for one thing, but see others...and eventually, what you were looking for. Fun!

    Ranges and records are funny...only presence is proof positive; absence isn't proof of absence or anything else!

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    1. I agree! Who's to say that they aren't nesting in some very remote area of the state? And there are many of those areas:)

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  9. wow...only 8 recorded sightings!! cool...and now your group's can be added to the list! like Red Nomad said...i too would do that hike whether there was the promise of a special bird or not!!
    love the views...the scenery...the rock...the mountains!! what a perfect day. beautiful pictures!

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  10. Looks like another great outing Chris. Your birding group looks like a fun bunch of people. Love the wood duck! Happy Birding!

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  11. What a wonderful hiking experience - with the reward of a rare bird sighting at the end! And the Wood Duck is beautiful!

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  12. Very nice photos ;-)
    Céline & Philippe

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  13. So exciting!!!! I am so happy for your little band witnessing a Mexican bird species nesting in AZ! Kudos to you all!

    I saw a Horned Lark for the first time a week ago....was hoping it was rare, but it isn't. Still, it was fun to ID a new bird for me. :-)

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  14. What an exciting trip! Nice shots!

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  15. Wow! What a great tick :) You do have some great adventures Chris with such wonderful wildlife :)

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  16. Congratulations on sighting that rarely seen bird. What an experience.

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  17. That's some beautiful scenery that holds some beautiful birds! What a life bird, sounds like you guys had fun!

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  18. Any activity is made better with the company of good friends. Glad you were able to find the elusive bird.

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  19. What a great adventure and you were rewarded by seeing the flycatcher. Sounds. Like good hiking weather too. Happy birding!

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  20. Chris, you use the word, "epic" a lot, but this time it really was Epic! I am glad you found your bird and had such fun with such good friends!

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  21. Wow! What a great experience. That is what birding is all about. So glad you were able to see this rare, beautiful bird and the tanager with such a special group of people! It sounds like you will remember this marvelous adventure forever. Wonderful in every way! I really enjoyed your story, Chris!

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  22. What a wonderful adventure! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  23. Seems like it was a great adventure! have a great Sunday!

    xoxo, Juliana | PJ’ Happies :) | PJ’ Ecoproject

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  24. Love that first photo of the birding group - shows how your journey is about the birds, but it's also about the friends you make and take with you along the way.

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  25. It sore is great to be outdoors with such great friends doing what you LOVE!

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