Monday, May 13, 2013

Mt. Ord

Mt. Ord
I've been trying to keep up with my birding, but it has been difficult.  Simply put, I can't.  Birds have been coming in left and right while I'm in the middle of a teaching lesson:) There are so many birds that I have to focus myself at times because it's overwhelming. What do I want?  Flycatchers? Warblers? Where should I go? Too many decisions!!! On a wonderful outing with Gordon Karre, Mark Ochs and Kathie Brown, we fled into the beautiful countryside of the Tonto National Forest. It was the perfect place to not have to make those decisions:)
Hutton's Vireo feasting on a tent caterpillar
It started off as a cold morning and then worked itself up into a hot afternoon.  We went from desert landscape into pine forest mountain tops.  It was a fantastic day full of cool finds and observations.
Hutton's Vireo
It was my first time meeting Gordon and Mark.  I love meeting birders.  I especially love watching the way they bird.  Gordon is very much like I am in that we search for target birds and try to get better shots and observations of birds we have already seen.  Kathie birds with a gentle heart and takes her time counting them all.  And Mark!  Why his style was the most interesting of us all!
Kathie saying hello!
He spoke in a dialect I recognized....Wisconsin!!!  Even though I lived in the Great Lakes region all of my childhood, I never learned to bird there. Something I hope to remedy in the future.  But I was constantly surrounded by people who loved the Green Bay Packers. Now I was never into football, but I was fascinated by Mark's strength and vigor towards birding.  He birded like he might play football. All I needed was some guacamole and chips to watch him bird. That sounds weird so forget that last sentence. Not once did he stop and not once did he miss out on a bird song.  A bird would sing and he would ID!  Incredible!  And all the while, he spoke in a loudish voice telling midwestern jokes using slang which can many times be lost on the rest of the world. I tried to spend time with all three while still snapping shots of elusive warblers and other small birds.
Grace's Warbler
And there were so many great birds.  But the heat!!!  Ugh!  We are reaching that time of year when I bird early morning until about 11 AM.  Then I go home and take a nap and if I get all my chores done, make for an evening birding somewhere close to home.  It would get hot.  I had my water pack on because I sweat way too much.  It's in my DNA. But even with all the water in the world, the body can only take so much heat.  I could see that Kathie was getting tired.  The protector in me watched over her.  I could see Mark far ahead.  The chaser in me kept tabs on Kathie and moved quickly to snap a shot of a Virginia's warbler.
Violet-green Swallow
There were truly so many incredible birds in this location, but I began to feel a  It was not a good feeling.  We went up in elevation, walked in the heat, and had some food.  Not a good combo and for awhile, I kept my distance as air bubbles exploded inside my stomach.  It felt terrible.  Little did I know that Kathie was having the same issues:) Altitude sickness. We laughed about it on the way home.  And it's not like we haven't done these major hikes before but for some reason on this day, we didn't feel so good.  Gordon also reminded us that we did  get up at 3 in the morning.  And was it worth it?  Oh my gods, you bet!!! I wouldn't trade that experience for anything else in the world.  It was invaluable!
Up to Mt.Ord
It was great to get into a new area and count birds.  It was also interesting to note various bird species mixed in together that normally wouldn't intermingle together around Tucson.   It was a little jarring to find normally difficult birds in Pima county all around Maricopa county.   Very strange indeed.
Virginia's Warbler
Gordon called our day a "3 Tanager Day".  For here, we spotted the Summer, Western and Hepatic tanagers in great numbers.
Western Tanager, male
Also in great numbers were the Scott's Orioles and Black-chinned Sparrows.
Scott's Oriole
The road up Mt. Ord is a very rocky one so be warned:)  This day was super dusty and the photos were some of the most difficult to snap.  By the end of the day, I had over 1000 pictures and about 20 of them were worthy of posting.
Black-chinned Sparrow
A special thank you to Gordon for a lovely day.  It was a blast and hopefully I can return the favor and get you some lifebirds in the near future.  I am linking up with Stewart M's Wild Bird Wednesday. Stay tuned for more....


  1. Hey Chris,

    Great photos of the birds and countryside on Mt. Ord. It's a great spot, our sort of Maricopa Mt. Lemmon.

    Mark is a singular character to be sure, and one of the most unique birders I've ever met.
    Was he birding up and down the mountain in leather loafers still? : )

  2. YES!!!! I was so fascinated by him. How he can talk, bird, and speed walk are beyond me??? He had a huge rip in his shorts but he didn't seem to mind. I photoshopped the shorts:)

  3. A most productive but unusual bird outing. Got to keep those electrolytes up. More salty snacks.

  4. What a stunningly beautiful place to go birding Chris :) Sounds like a lovely day apart from heat and altitude!!! I do enjoy reading about your incredible adventures :)

  5. Well, I can see I need to live here 40 more years as I had not heard of Mt. Ord. I googled it and I have only been up on 87 (even camped at Sunflower once) five or six million times. Next time I'll LOOK more. Beautiful photos.

  6. The landscape in the first shot is spectacular Chris, my husband would looooove to walk this area. As you say now that its getting so much hotter, early morning is best..for everything! I had a very exciting sighting today and got some fab shots of....I'll keep you in suspense, am still waiting for official confirmation to tell me it is a rare sighting. I'll post on Thursday, should know then for sure.

  7. It was a great day with some nice birds. You are correct in the timing of birding some of these places, the summer heat does take its toll and when that happens, have to head for the higher elevations! Thanks for making it a great day!

  8. the violet-green swallow is so cool! the western tanagers look like a tequila sunrise to me. :)

  9. hi chris, what a great outing. I love your bubbly enthusiasm, despite not feeling so good. Birds and birders very interesting and likeable creatures.

  10. Hi Grace!!! Can't wait to see what you've found:)

  11. Chris, what a great outing. It is neat to go birding with someone who is so experienced, almost everyone has more experience than I. I love all the birds, especially the western tanager and the pretty swallow. Thanks for sharing your day, happy birding!

  12. HI Chris, I can only imagine how much you enjoy meeting new birders.. Interesting to think of all of the different ways that people 'bird'...

    Sounds like you had a good time although it was so hot and you and Kathie didn't feel well... Be careful out there in the heat!

    Beautiful birds... I love the little Hutton's Vireo and the Tanager... You did have a Tanager day for sure!!!!


  13. Chris, LOL! You are so sweet and your account of this day makes me smile! We did have such fun in spite of the discomfort and it was all worth it! I was glad to go birding with Gordon again and it was fun to meet Mark. Yes, the heat is already getting to me and I will be staying inside even more as summer comes on. Still, I think we will both find a way to get out and bird!

  14. That kind of heat would have had me floored at the bottom of the mountain.

    But what bird sightings you got.


  15. Beautiful birds and the scenery looks fantastic - but I would have wilted in that heat!

  16. I have a solution to your dilemma...retire. LOL Kidding of course. But, seriously, I'd Rather B Birdin'!!

    Your bird sightings were stupendous. That Tanager is gorgeous...definitely my favorite.

  17. Oh so nice to hear the story from another point of view.
    I am addicted to Kathie's blog and am so glad she is back in Arizona. The birds are so different, not only from further north but also to ours here in the dry-lands of Australia.
    Thank you for all the birds and description of your day.

  18. You certainly got a lot of great shots of the birds. They are just lovely and thanks for all the names.

  19. Wow- that's what I call a great day birdin'!

  20. Looks like a great day out.

  21. Great trip! Awesome post, and sounds like a really great day! I also have another little "birding" moment to post for my Wild Bird Wednesday this coming week...a very brief visit to the Audubon Society refuge near my home. I need to identify the birds we saw, but since I have no close-ups it will be hard. Still, I was so happy we saw several different kinds! I went to the Audobon Society's Main bird refuge in CT once many years ago, walked through very slowly with binoculars and didn't see a SINGLE bird! At least the birds here at this Audobon refuge got the memo! :-)


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