Monday, February 4, 2013


Mexican Jay
Okay, I had to put in one awesome shot.  And I cheated.  I love the Mexican Jay.  I love their curious and aggressive nature.  So I had some chips and I......"encouraged" the bird to come closer:)  Today's post is a part two follow up from yesterday.  The shots are different but not masterpieces.  In this day and age when submitting reports to EBIRD or any bird agency becomes very important, it's important to have photo documentation for evidence or ID.  When I'm out in the field alone or with Kathie, the camera always comes along with a notebook.  We both observe but Kathie writes and I snap shots. Proof.
Barn Owl
Owls are difficult to find.  They are everywhere and sit hiding blending in with their surroundings.  It's amazing how difficult it is to find them.  Once you know where they hang out, it's not hard at all to spot them.   But on this very cold and windy day, Kathie would be the one to spot this bird. And that's my life with owls. I know, or sense, where they are but can never find them.  It's always my birding party that will point them out!
Ruddy Dove
An incredible find was this really rare Ruddy Dove.  They are down in Mexico and Central America.  Why this one chose to come to Arizona is a complete mystery?  It was a very skittish bird so I had to keep my distance to get the picture.  And speaking of skittish, the Lawrence goldfinch stayed far enough away  for an ID shot.  But not much else:)
Lawrence's Goldfinch
Or the Bald Eagle?  Ravens chased this bird out of a patch of grass.  The flight was different and called my attention.  I took the pics for ID and it's good enough to pick out the white head and wing features.
Bald Eagle chased by Ravens
Birds will hold their ground.  These curlews below numbered over a hundred with a random Snow Goose.  But I took the shot for proof.  ID is important when we document.
Curlews with Snow Goose
Warblers, Parulas, Redstarts, Kinglets, etc etc etc......are so difficult to capture on film.  The problem with "Big January" is that one must find as many species as they can.  In other words, you only stay long enough to ID and observe the bird.  And then move on because daylight is a premium. So photography as an art becomes secondary.
Northern Parula
And yet when a lifebird comes my way, I try to do the best I can.  Maybe I could do better but I have to work with what nature provides.  Small birds stay in one spot for seconds and then move.  As a photographer, I wait for that perfect shot.  Sometimes it doesn't happen but many times I can predict where they will move.  But with a "Big January", you don't have time to wait for that perfect shot.  ID and field observations are first and most important.
Black-chinned Sparrow
OR!!!  I got sick of my camera coming along on the trips and only brought my IPHONE for a more mobile hike. That's when grainy shots like this below happen!  But it's an ID shot:)
Gray Flycatcher
Or in the case of this SUPER RARE bird for Tucson, the Eastern Phoebe, the shots were terrible because the bird was too far away from my camera.  BUT an ID photo is required.
Eastern Phoebe
Another lifebird was the Common Merganser.  I was able to get an okay shot of this bird.
Common Merganser(female)
The competition was hot.  There was a lot going on.  Some places were gorgeous and others were bizarre and alien worlds.   I think I have a greater appreciation for Arizona after this past month.  Such diverse landscape.  When people think of our state, they think it's all desert.  Not true at all.  It's one crazy locale full of mountain top forests, canyons, grasslands, dry cracked desert, lush desert, and a few winding rivers.
Northern Harrier
And when you least expect it, the Rufous-backed Robin appears out of nowhere.  I wasn't looking for it.  It just.....appeared.  A real gift to the list.  It's a beautiful tropical bird(coming from the warmer Mexico). It's something we all hope to see in Arizona, but it can be quite elusive.  On this day, a group of 6 birders would exhaust their ears and eyes locating this bird.
Rufous-backed Robin
Next week, I have another special report.  Today also marks my first work with Birding is Fun! I'm excited to join their birding team and feel honored to be asked to write for them.  I'll be posting work every other month from my travels.  Birding isn't just about the birds.  It's also about the experience behind them. And within that frame of mind, I am finding myself lost in a world full of exciting surprises and discoveries.
Loggerhead Shrike
Until next time......
Plumbeous Vireo


  1. Great shots Chris. Lots of times with rare birds I have to content myself with only a documentation shot, but it looks like you're often coming away with a lot more. Nice work!

  2. love the jay and the lawrence's goldfinch! wow! great new header shot, too!

  3. I love the bird shots. The Mexican Jay is a beautiful bird.

  4. Really enjoy your posts! Love the owl in the header. Looking forward to more! Also great post on Birding is Fun!

  5. Very interesting blue bird...
    very exotic for me

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

  6. You got a lot of beauties there. That owl face just gets me the most!

  7. Great birds, Chris! The Mexican Jay is beautiful. But my favorite is the beautiful Barn owl. I love their heart shaped faces. Wonderful post and photos.

  8. All your shots are wonderful but you know what my fav is Whooot!!
    Love the new header!!

  9. A most interesting post as always Chris and lovely photos too. Congratulations on all these very special sightings. You have illustrated so well how the world of birding and all things Nature related is very special and how wonderful it is to be able to connect with like minded people from all over the world. Your photo of the beautiful Barn Owl underlined that fact for me perfectly. I had no idea you had them there too! Realising that really made all the miles and the rather (to this English eye) alien habitat melt away to nothing and reminded me that really we all live in such a very small world.

  10. Another fascinating post from you Chris. It sounds as if you are starting to have a real dilemma over recording or photography. The trouble with recording, particularly in a 'race' situation, is that sometimes you just miss being able to appreciate the finer points of a bird and its character that you get with relaxed birding - and that IS compatible with photography!

  11. Great post, Chris... So many of the birds you show are RARE to me... Our birds here are quite different from yours out there in the desert...

    You are right when you say that Birding is more about the birds. The experience is just as important --and you do meet so many wonderful people with like interests.

    Have a great week.

  12. Fascinating post again Chris. I do so enjoy reading about your birding adventures and seeing birds that we don't get over here! Very interesting to see that you get Barn Owls too :) Beautiful birds. Thanks for another wonderful post :)

  13. What a great selection of birds, love that Jay!

  14. What an awesome collection of beautiful birds! I would LOVE to encounter a Barn Owl, no matter who spots it:) Love your new header as well! The Mexican Jay is such a pretty color!

  15. I don't have a life list, or a bird list, but I do so enjoy seeing the amazing collections of birds you have spotted.

    Love the owl, they have a spot in my heart.


  16. I can tell you love birding, I can feel the excitement. :)

  17. Wszystkie zdjęcia są wspaniałe, bo pokazują ptaki. Nieważne, czy je robisz żeby udowodnic, że są, czy dla pieknych zdjęć. Pozdrawiam.
    The pictures are great, because it shows birds. Whether you're doing it to prove that they are, or for beautiful photos. Yours.

  18. A tremendous mix of birds with some seriously good sightings there there Chris. I must admit that I thought Arizona was all desert - blame those Western movies.

  19. I'm not sure I have the dedication you have to birding Chris, although I do get super excited when I manage to catch something different. I'm more than happy to just enjoy the exoerience through your eyes, so keep them coming !!

  20. Wow! You are finding so many awesome many varieties I never even knew existed here! It makes me want to find some of them too. I'd be very happy to use a potato chip to draw one in if necessary...I'm not proud! :-)


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