Saturday, November 24, 2012


Ruddy Duck
Greetings all, I have been on the road for the past several days celebrating the holidays with family and friends PLUS doing some epic birding.  Sunday, I'll be back again catching up with posts.  There just doesn't seem  to be enough time in a day to do it all.  So let's get started with today's topic.  I didn't want to bring the camera on this shoot. To be honest, I wasn't into taking any pics, but I always bring the camera in case that random bobcat shows up.  Murphy's Law would suggest that the minute I left the camera home, the bobcat would make an appearance at Sweetwater.  Today's post marks a first in two different areas.
I now have another weapon on my wildlife/birding treks.....the IPhone!  After this past years Montosa Canyon run in, Pat decided that it was time for me to get a cell phone.  I have resisted that technology for years.  But I'm finding that the Panoramic feature is SWEET!  So you'll be seeing many more of these.  Plus when someone calls me, my favorite bird call of all time(the Loon) will sound.  Just hopefully not in a movie theater!
But all of that is foolish stuff when compared to the feeling I had today as I joined an Audubon group at Sweetwater in Tucson.  It marks a first for me and I'm proud that I could help beginning birders out.  Some were old pros but I found that I loved helping people ID birds.  And my neighbor wanted to go birding with me.  She had asked me for this outing chance to see what I see everytime I go on my walks.  I love her dearly and said absolutely.
It would mark the first "cold" day for Tucson since last spring.  The temps were in the 40's and it was COLD!  My nipples could have cut glass. Okay maybe that was too much:)  A group of 7 met and we began our trek.  It was very rewarding and a lot of hard work spotting the birds.  But I scoped out the area the day before as the leader Debra had done so that I would be prepared for my friend.  I got her a checklist and I brought my notepad along with me(like Kathie taught me) and left the camera at my side.  It wasn't about my pics.  It was about finding as many birds as we could.  Debra had her scope and we viewed birds.....48 of them to be exact(at least on my count).
Ruddy Ducks, Grebes, name it!  Even Snowy and Great Egrets were discovered in the distant skies.  Thanks to 6 other sets of eyes, we were able to spot lots of wonderful birds.  But I was contributing and helping people ID the birds that I know so well.  Sweetwater is my patch here in Tucson when I need to bird quickly.  And I knew my birds.  But this time we had a scope and I could finally ID Least Sandpipers and a Belted Kingfisher using Debra's scope!  Thank you!!! We had a fun lunch afterwards and it was wonderful getting to know a new birder buddy.
Look carefully for the Belted Kingfisher
But I also made a realization.  I missed Kathie.  For two weeks we hadn't been able to bird together and it wasn't the same.  I know that it probably sounds weird but it hit me right in the face that I missed my birding buddy. I am thankful that both our spouses allow us to hang out and bird together.
Red Tail Hawk
Debra was awesome and amazing and I hope we get to bird together as well.  But I am finding that many of us have similarities.  We all have spouses that prefer to stay home while we explore the outdoors.  It's also very rare and wonderful to have a birding buddy to share the adventures and thrills.  I didn't take it for granted before but when we couldn't bird these past couple weeks, I found that I missed birding with her.  Debra spoke of her male friend she used to bird with and how much she missed birding with him.  And that's when I made the connection.  Bizarre but true.  Birding is an addiction and deep inside we want to be around people who LOVE birding for more than just an hour.  I've written before that Pat can stand about an hour before we have to go to breakfast:)  I don't want to bird for an hour.  I want to bird for much longer and I want the person next to me to get excited!! And I thought about this more and here's my run-on sentence's NO different than the football crowd sitting and screaming at a TV together eating guacamole and drinking beer.  Well it is different.  We're exercising; they're not.  The simple fact is that we all should have hobby buddies to make the experience even more incredible.  Pat and I have lots of other things that we do together.....but birding is not one of them.  And that's okay.
Harris Hawk
Every bird is a complete thrill and it's so exciting to play detective with another person who gets in the game as much as any birder does.
Eared Grebe
Recently, several birder people have set goals.  For example, they'll say that they hope to spot 50 species.  No time limit has been set yet on these outings because that would make it quite the workout:)
Recently, I've been asked to join in on the Christmas Bird Count and I'm absolutely thrilled to join in on the quest.  I believe Kathie and I both will be joining up together to do the count somewhere. She keeps me focused.  I tend not to look both ways when crossing the road.....especially when we're on the hunt for a bird!   This Audubon excursion, selling my photography, and having several pieces published in an upcoming book validate that what I'm doing isn't a joke but something that is leading elsewhere.  And I will keep trying my best to learn as much as I can until I can't anymore. And learning never ends.
Grebe love....Pied Bill Grebe and Eared Grebe together
In a short 3 years, I will no longer be owned by debt and student loans.  That day, and let me tell this to you all, will be a coming of age celebration.  For many years I have been financially trapped by this "education" investment.  When it happens, I will be planning a "BIG YEAR".  I want to know more.  I want to see more. Be more.  But my home base is teaching me a lot.  Arizona is truly a premiere birding spot.  This is a hotspot in our country for so many species.  International travel has opened my eyes to how others view Arizona.  I just didn't see what they were seeing......until I actually opened my eyes.
On this trip, we found so many incredible things.  Sparrows still challenge me. And the difference between a Clark's and Western Grebe are subtle, but I won't stop until I learn them all by heart.
Over the next several days, you are going to witness some incredible finds from trips not only with Kathie but with my solo visits as well.  There will be lifebirds added and photographed.
And while I write this post, I am also wanting to share with my garden friends that I have not stopped gardening.  But I have been working on a courtyard segment as well but it's just not complete yet and I can't wait to share with you the plants and water feature that are going into our property.  There's a lot happening on the plant side as well.   Yes.  I am a busy person but I wouldn't change it for anything in the world because this is where I'm at in my life and I don't know where it's all heading.....but I do like it:)  A special thank you to Debra for an awesome day.  I hope we get to bird together again. More tomorrow.....
A rare sight...the Sora!  But it is heard easily:)


  1. Z pewnością wycieczka z osobą, która uwielbia ptaki, jak Ty, jest ciekawa. Nawzajem możecie siebie jeszcze bardziej douczyć, a nam pokazać zdjęcia rozpoznanych ptaków. Pozdrawiam.
    Certainly a trip with someone who loves birds, like you, is interesting. You too can train a further themselves and show us pictures of birds identified. Yours.

  2. I enjoyed all of the shots Chris! Here's to getting rid of the student loans!

  3. I agree with Giga, we are learning about birds all the time from you.Nice post!

  4. Thats a good post Chris....i like these bird pictures so much.

    Greetings, Joop

  5. love those sweet grebes, and adorable ruddy ducks! glad you have found some birders to spend hours enjoying your passion.

  6. I love the passion you show. And yes, I think some hobbies need to be shared, and not always with out partners. Your birding has skyrocketed. Selling photos is great.

  7. Wow---what a great post... AND the best thing is getting out of debt. Educations can cost so much money and investment ---so it has to be incredible to get them all paid off!!!!!

    Congrats on being willing to help beginning birders. You'll find that you will learn as much as they learn. Glad also that you have such a great birding buddy. George and I are lucky to have each other since we both love photography, hiking, waterfalls, travel, gardening, etc... The only thing I do which he doesn't care much for is birding .. BUT--I don't do much of that, just my Backyard Birds....

    Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.

  8. beautiful shots
    have a great weekend, Chris!

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

  9. My goodness, you have a lot on your mind!
    Gret shots... You will find your new IPhone to be a trusty buddy in more ways than one.

  10. Que lugar más chulo para fotografiar aves.. Me encanta.. Un cordial saludo.

  11. So many brilliant images here Chris. Gosh you certainly have a lot of amazing things happening in your life t the moment, exciting stuff. I do understand how it is with your friend Kathy, I have a similar situation, whatever works, its nice to have a buddy that shares your interest.

  12. It will be a great celebration, no more school loans. Love the Iphone shot. A big year would be cool, if one can afford it. I would be happy for a trip to Arizona and Texas in the near future. Great collection of birds, Chris. Your photos are awesome!! Happy Birding!

  13. Sounds and looks like you had another wonderful birding trip Chris :) Look forward to more shots with your iphone. I wouldn't mind one of those as I just have a cheap and nasty "pay as you go" mobile phone for "emergencies"!

    Glad you have found some birding buddies and have such fun with them. It is difficult when other family members don't have the same passion for your interest. I find that my family also lose interest very quickly and have walked miles ahead of me whilst I stop to take photos or id a species of bird, butterfly or flower. I do go out on my own but there are certain nature reserves that I do like going to but wouldn't want to visit on my own.

  14. Exquisite photos! My new LCD is actually bringing the colors to life, and I love that! Anyway, glad you met up with an Audubon group at Sweetwater. It sounds like you are really enjoyting the birding experience. I'm far behind you, I admit. But, I would love to do more.


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