Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Unexpected Surprises

Harris Hawk
Today's post if full of wonderful awesomeness.  It's when you're walking and stuff happens right around you. If you don't act quick enough, you miss the shot like the photographer trying to get the Harris Hawk during this day.  I had a private smile but that smile turned upside down the next day when I missed out on the American Kestrel attacking the Harris Hawk.  You win some and you lose some:)
And my camera is always right next to me at every turn.  On my way to Sweetwater in my neighborhood, a Cooper's Hawk sat on our street light.  I parked the car, aimed the camera, and took pics.  An older lady came my way and began talking with me.  She was sweet and replied, "A Cooper's Hawk on a Sunday morning.  It doesn't get better than that.:)"  But it would get better....
Cooper's Hawk
And like the Cooper's Hawk, I flew off to Sweetwater.
What an incredible day!!!!  It was super birdy and full of a billion bird species.  I began my count and within a short time, I had over 30 birds species!!!
Cactus Wren
Birds were either hanging out or flying by me at a rapid pace.
American Kestrel
I knew a Buffelhead was in the area but I kept my eyes open for other surprises.
Pied Bill Grebe
And I found everyone on my list that I was supposed to find!
Female Buffelhead
And while some of the photos weren't super great, I did have photo documentation that they were there.
From left to right, female Buffelhead, Northern Shoveler, and Mallard Duck.
Some posts, like this one, take time to process as I need to confirm the birds spotted.
With the Buffelhead, it wasn't an issue. The markings were clear and easy to see:)
But for this new species of Warbler and Sparrow below, I had to investigate.
Orange Crowned Warbler
This Orange Crowned Warbler sat in front of me for a few brief moments and then like all warblers took off!!!
But what took me the longest to research was this sparrow below.  Before any of my posts go out, I have several eyes check and verify pics before labeling them because I want accuracy on my reports.  Sometimes I'll throw the wrong name out there just to hear people give their explanations. About 60 percent of the time, I've labeled the "confusing" birds correctly.  But not the one below:)
Lincoln's Sparrow
It took one week to get enough feedback on the ID to prep for today's report. So many sparrows will just pop out of nowhere and surprise you along the way.  With sparrows, it's just important to sit and wait for them.
White Crowned Sparrow
Of course there are plenty others that are much easier to ID like the White Crowned Sparrow.  There have been so many of them lately around here and they have such cute faces.
Solitary Sandpiper
And Sweetwater is also home to the rare Solitary Sandpiper that has decided to call our wetlands home every winter:) And that is another wonderful unexpected surprise.  Here he is calmly taking a stroll in the stream.
More tomorrow....


  1. Sand pipers are my favorite for the day: so much grace!

  2. The little song sparrow is so lovely Chris..what a post full of treasures here. How lucky you were to find so many birds, really love all the reflections, nice work indeed.

  3. Great birds and post, Chris! I love the Harris Hawk, awesome looking bird! And the Orange-Crowned Warbler is a cutie! Great shots! Have a wonderful day!

  4. Some great shots there Chris of a wonderful variety of birds :) Love the first shot. So enjoy reading about all your sightings and the fun you get out of birding :)

  5. Wow, what a great day Chris. Of course any day filled with birds is wonderful!

  6. Muy chulas las fotos... Sobre todo ese Halcón de Harris. Bien bello. Un saludo desde Madrid

  7. i love the hawk!! that cactus wren has beautiful markings...a Buffelhead? never heard of that one! the sandpiper reflections are beautiful!!

    yay, for finding all the birds on your list!!

    have a great day chris.

  8. what a great set! from the harris hawk all the way to the sandpiper. i'd be thrilled to see a cactus wren!

  9. Hi Chris, What a wonderful selection of birds both here and on the last couple of posts. It must be very rewarding to see so many. I am always amazed by all the different types of sparrow you have there, we only have the House and the Tree Sparrows, well there was also what some called the Hedge Sparrow but that was never a sparrow at is a Dunnock! Am I confusing you? ;-) Anyway, my favourite on this post is the delightful little White Crowned Sparrow, so pretty!

  10. You have found the perfect place to become a birder! There are so many different species of birds where you are. Love the first picture of the Harris Hawk and the background colours of the one with the Cactus Wren.

  11. Fabulous shots Chris. It looks like Sweetwater is brining in the good stuff now.
    By the by, I think that photographed Song Sparrow is actually a Lincoln's Sparrow--a solid Sparrow indeed!

    1. Oh oh.....!!!:) Yes it certainly does look like a Lincoln's Sparrow. Thanks for the catch. I give up on these sparrows. I won't say much but a "bird guru" said that what I had was not a Lincoln's but a Song. But who I am? I should just trust my gut. I'm at that stage where I might be just right but then something happens and I'm wrong again:) But this was a bird specialist so I guess it can happen to all of us experienced or not:) Thanks for ID help. Chris:)

  12. We saw our first Downy Woodpecker the other day here at the feeders. That's company for the Pilliated woodpecker pair, and the flickers.

    My hardest thing to do is figure out what type of birds they are...we don't seem to have a concise web site for the's vague.


  13. Nice you saw the Coopers, and a whole bunch more. And now you're counting too. Kathie has been a good influence.

  14. You are so right, your post is full of awesomeness! Love the kestral, the cactus wren and the warbler most of all. Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. More very nice bird pictures Chris.... well done again.

  16. Well, you had quite a day! Majestic hawk to delicate sandpiper.
    Have a great Thanksgiving.

  17. Wow, what a great variety! The Harris Hawk is beautiful! That Kestrel must have been awfully brave to attack it~it looks pretty fierce!

  18. Hi, Chris. I know I am behind, but I wanted to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! xo ~tracy

  19. You are surely enjoying your time with birds, if you are here you will be enjoying our birds too. Do you have FB? I asked because i posted there an unusual dead bird, unusual because it died sitting with wings and tail spread, and it is looking upwards as if telling me something. Maybe i should send it to you privately, because I don't know anybody close to the birds so much!

    1. Hi Andrea:) I do have FB. Send me an email and I'll find you on the Facebook. I don't think my name will come up for some reason if you type in my name into the search box. I'm up for the challenge:)


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