Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dark Skies

Cholla Cactus at Sunset
Black Vultures.  My big break with the rare bird alert people/gurus.  And then it happened. I felt legit as a birder.   Rare for Tucson this time of year, I found over 50 in an area near the recharge ponds in Avra Valley on Mile Wide Road.  But they wouldn't believe me unless I took my pictures!
And so it began.  It wasn't the Groove Bill Ani I was chasing that would get me on the rare bird alert...but the Black Vulture!  Of all birds that would get me notice, it would be Black Vultures!  And they weren't even a lifebird for me! You never know when or where luck will strike, but I'll take it:)  I scheduled my morning to find the Crested Caracaras, Ani, and Northern Parula.  2 of the 3 birds I'd find, but forget about the Caracaras. 
It was an early morning to be on the road alone.  But I drove listening to inspirational music to keep my spirits high.  It was cold and I was almost at my destination when these birds flew out from under a bridge.  I nearly crapped myself.  What the.....??!!!
I got out of the car and smiled from ear to ear.  This was one for the record books.  10 had been reported but I counted over 50 around the area.  Which could have meant only one thing.  Death.
Black Vultures
I parked my car and prayed to the gods that it not be a human.  It went something like this, "Please please please let this not be a person."  I held my cell phone close.  You see, in Arizona anything is possible.  It may sound funny in this writing but I assure's not. I prepare for that mentally everytime I go to strange and isolated areas.  And I am now thankful that I have a cell.
I walk closer to the bridge but something spooks the birds.  I hear howling and yipping.
The mass of vultures fly off and I spot why they're quick to leave.  Cell phone is held closer.  This time it's on.
I take a pic of them on the line and I see coyotes running from under the bridge.
The question is.....what in the world is this?  I am still puzzled.  The Vultures were there for the carcass, but is this a coyote?  I didn't want to get too close because the ravine was deep.  Were the coyotes feeding on this carcass or were they mourning the loss of a member from their pack?  I left the scene just as confused as I had been when I got there.  Whatever happened, I made it on the rare bird alert watch.  However I was lectured about my JPEG size when submitting photos:) I guess I'll never win:) But all that's goofy nonsense.  What do you think really happened here?
More tomorrow....


  1. Awesome! Vultures have such negative connotations - but they're quite spectacular!! None of those downunder ...

  2. Wprowadzasz emocje przy czytaniu tego postu. Jak w filmie grozy. Sępy z pewnością wypatrzyły jedzenie dla siebie. Jest ich bardzo dużo, a ciekawe ile jedzenia. Czyżby tym jedzeniem był kojot. Pozdrawiam.
    Enter emotions when reading this post. As in a horror movie. Juveniles vultures certainly food for themselves. There are a lot, and interesting as the food. Could it be that the food was a coyote. Yours.

  3. What a fabulous scene to come across Chris! Great images - and not just of the birds, your cactus sunset shot is a cracker! Great stuff!

  4. Exciting stuff Chris and glad you managed to make it on the rare bird alert watch :) Adore the first photo - beautiful :)

  5. Whoa, I am glad this wasn't a dead body. I love seeing the Vultures. I have both the Turkey and the Black Vultures hanging around my neighborhood. The deer hunters here leaves lots of carcasses around for them to be happy. Great shots, have a wonderful day!

  6. Mucho pájaro negro.. jaja. Pero también tienen su belleza.. Que tengas un buen día..

  7. hmmmmm...hard to say really...if the coyotes were competing with the vultures? or guarding their 'loss' of a pack member?!
    either way...nature's way.
    i love the shots you got of the vultures...
    and the first gorgeous cactus picture, against the pink sky!! so very cool!

    i also wanna apologize for not being here has been too hectic...i need to come up for air!! SO i'm working my way down my READING list, yikes! i DO love coming here!! happy sunday chris!

  8. Very interesting shots Chris!! It looks like a fox to me, but what do I know? :-)

  9. glad you got to see black vultures! they're one of my mainstays here, but i like them.

    coyotes will eat anything - even a weak one from their pack, i think.

  10. Hi Chris, Glad you saw Vultures... I figured since there were so many of them that there had to have been some 'dinner' near there for them.. Have no idea what that is---but vultures are known to search for carcasses and things like that to eat. We have Turkey Vultures here --with the red heads.

    Have a great week.

  11. Death of one brings life to others. Great shots of all those black vultures.

  12. A great entertaining post Chris, made me laugh :-) A good find for you those Vultures, puts you on the birding map :-)

  13. Fascinating mystery and intriguing sequence of shots, Chris. Great cliff hanger!

  14. Suspenseful! A little scary! Yes, thank goodness for cell phones! You never know what you might encounter in the desert! Glad you made the rare bird count, and what the "hey" about the jpeg size!?


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