|Pic courtesy of Sara Pike|
|Tim's secret plans|
|Long-billed Dowitchers, Least Sandpipers|
But I have to admit. There are some spots I love more than others. I love Willcox, AZ. I love that after our search we stop at the Mexican restaurant to grab something to eat. It's essentially the calm before the storm.
But a big surprise was about to happen during our night out on Mt. Lemmon. Our team has suspected for a long time that we had been hearing Northern Saw-whet Owls near Summerhaven over the past couple years. We just never had visual confirmation. Until now.
|A new bird to my Pima County list! Northern Saw-whet Owl|
But the fun didn't stop. At dawn, the bird chorus on the mountain is overwhelming. It began at around 4:30 AM and continued for 30 or 40 minutes. One call in particular lead us to this hard to photograph warbler, the Virginia's Warbler. For the first time in 6 years, I was able to get long and satisfying looks at this normally secretive warbler. This is one of my favorite pics from our trek.
|Western Wood Pewee|
|the Davis Pasture in the Cienagas Grasslands-pic by Matt Griffiths|
While Matt, Jennie, Sara, Corey and Tim kept hiking the 90 degree, chigger sensational DeAnza trail, I sat in the park under the ramada and counted birds. I am, after all, a mere mortal. I should have taken two days off instead of one but finals have arrived and students need their teacher for support.
|Matt, Jennie, Sara, Corey, Tim and me in the back|
By the end of the day, I acquired new information that I can now use for my own research. The team was exhausted but we did it. And it felt good. Not only did we raise several thousands of dollars, we broke our old record and surpassed our 180 bird species goal in a 24 hour time period with 182 birds. I really like these people a lot.
We cross paths throughout the year but really only bird on these two days together each year as a team. It's a tradition that I hope we keep going every year. If you'd like to track that tradition, here are some links to our past searches and how we've grown as a team.
2014-Blur 2015-Veni, Vidi,Vici
2016-Return of the Wrenegades
And as a side note, I'd be remiss if I forgot to mention how Tim is always attacked by some wild mammal. One year it was a rabid skunk. This year it was a cow. Good times! Until next week:)