Saturday, April 14, 2012

Air Traffic Control

Neotropic Cormorant
Recently I went on the hunt for the Cormorant in Tucson.  It was specific and again tipped off by another Tucson birder.  So I got into my car and went searching for this bird at the Sweetwater Wetlands off of Prince road.
Common Moorhen
The "issue" this time?  The clutter all around the air space of this Wetland.  It's fine when you go somewhere and have time, but when you're in a pinch, the ducks and blackbirds can be a major distraction.  There were A LOT of them flying all over the place making it difficult to spot first.
While the ducks provided lovely moments of flying, they also drew my attention away from the other areas where there were hidden secrets just waiting to be uncovered. That was the challenge for the day.
My first evidence came from over my head.  Luckily there was a break from ducks and blackbirds in the sky which allowed me to spot this Neotropic Cormorant.  So I kept my eyes open and followed the bird over into the farthest water areas away from the main track.
Had it not been for the duck taking flight below, I may have missed the single Cormorant sitting on the log.  But I soon realized that there were others all hanging out in a colony together nearby.....
I'm not sure why but these birds reminded me of the Lockness Monster the way they slid through the water with their snake heads.  And I kind of got the heebie jeebies.  It's getting warm out and I'm now having to concern myself with rattlesnake patrol which means I need to keep my eyes open on both the sky and ground.  It can be pretty serious stuff.  I don't have the 2 thousand dollars to cover the antivenom serum!
And just like that, I succeeded in locating the great Neotropic Cormorant.  A cool bird to see in the wild.  And I thought I'd include this shot of the Phoebe since everyone loves them. I do like this picture:)  More tomorrow....
Black Phoebe


  1. Wow. The reflections are beautiful! I need to go out to a place in Gilbert that I've heard about. Kind of an water bird sanctuary.

  2. Great sighting and congrats on your find. The snake like description of the cormorant is right on. Wonderful post and photos.

  3. Wonderful shots. I love the reflection shot. You give me the heebie jeebies just at the mention of rattlesnakes!

  4. thank you DUCK...for leading you to the secret spot!! great sighting. and terrific shots!

    we have Cormorants here too...and i think it's pretty cool the way they flap and spread their wings...soaking up the sun and drying their underarms...uh...underwings!

    close to the's the Cottonmouth...the Moccasin we have to watch for!

    OH...and very cool Phoebe flying capture!

  5. Excellent challenge! and excellent pic of the black Phoebe! The cormorants are ones that I like very much. I could see a lot, a lot of them at the Gilbert Preserve, next to herons and other birds.

  6. Super photos Chris. I love the way they dry their wings and I like your spot on Loch Ness monster description! I find cormorants, like herons, very primeval. The thought of rattlesnakes is scary! We only have one poisonous snake here in England - the adder which is believed to be extinct in Warwickshire where I live. The probable extinction is sad but it saves me wondering what is lurking in the undergrowth!

  7. Not easy to follow birds when watching your feet for snakes. Nice job chasing down the cormorant.

  8. Chris, these are awesome photos - especially of the birds in flight and their reflections in the water!

  9. Great shots of the birds in flight. We have cormorants that hang around the canal by my house. They are skittish.

  10. Very nice. I heard there's a Red Phalarope down at Sweetwater too--very rare inland.

  11. Another great post and wonderful photos.
    I especially like the Black Phoebe.


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