Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Specks of Dust

On a prayer and on a hunt, we chased several birds near Lake Cochise in Willcox, AZ.  Things have been warming up and I had hopes to find my Scaled Quail.
Spotted Sandpiper
I also had hopes of getting better observations of birds that I have on my lifelist. On this day, I would finally have some wonderful views of the Spotted Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Franklin's Gulls, and Marbled Godwits.
But after circling the lake many times and looking into the waters, our eyes began to blur from the intense focus and count.
Franklin's Gull
Was there only one Franklin's Gull?  Or were there 2 or 3?  After doing several scans, we were successful in spotting 3 of these lovely birds.
And there was dust.  Dust storms blew into our area like mini-tornadoes. I wear contacts so I had to protect the eyes from the intense dust.
They are quite common in the deserts of the Southwest and also very beautiful....from a distance.
The birds were unaffected as we circled the lake 5 times observing such rarities like the Wilson's Phalaropes. 
Lesser Yellowlegs
Shorebirds are becoming easier to ID for me.  We moved behind blinds to observe many of these birds without disturbing them.  The only issue we had was from a random dirt bike that sped quickly around the lake and .......you guessed.......stirred up more dust!
But there were so many magnificent birds out there to get on camera.   The White-faced Ibis is a shy bird and one that can detect a birder in close proximity.....blinds or no blinds:)
White-faced Ibis
They strike me as Egyptian by the way their bill is curved.  During migration, the White-faced Ibis fly through Arizona.
I enjoy these kinds of observations while birding.  Sometimes the birds are so small that it's difficult to see them clearly.
Including the Marbled Godwit trying to hide in the grasses.  But the bill is much too hard to disguise.
Marbled Godwit
The Wilson's Phalaropes were a bonus bird for me and in great numbers.  At one point, a Peregrine Falcon came out of nowhere and scared up the flocks.  As they did, we were able to observe the birds as they flew circles around the lake.

Wilson's Phalarope
Flocks of birds flew around the lake.  Two Red-necked Phalaropes and a Baird's Sandpiper were supposed to be in the mix, but we could not find them.  And we spent hours looking for them in the water, around the water, above the water........until our eyes blurred and saw yet more......dust.
Phalaropes with Mr. Franklin
We did find the Scaled Quail and I believe that Kathie was able to get great shots of them. I tried but they were quick within the tall grasses.  Another time.  Now if I find the Montezuma Quail that will be the last quail found here in Arizona for the year. They are extremely elusive and probably THE hardest of the birds to find.  Most people just count them on voice alone.  That won't be me because I'd love to see this beautiful bird.  Las Aventuras has more to come.  Stay tuned!
Lesser Yellowlegs
Gadwall 4

Mallard 6

Blue-winged Teal 2

Cinnamon Teal 8

Northern Shoveler 100

Green-winged Teal 2

Ruddy Duck 60

Scaled Quail 4

Eared Grebe 1

White-faced Ibis 10

Turkey Vulture 4

American Coot 30

Killdeer 6

Black-necked Stilt 4

American Avocet 36 There were many in the lake and in the other side pond.

Spotted Sandpiper 2

Lesser Yellowlegs 3

Marbled Godwit 1

Western Sandpiper X

Least Sandpiper X

Long-billed Dowitcher 12

Wilson's Phalarope 30

Franklin's Gull 3

Eurasian Collared-Dove 8

White-winged Dove 3

Mourning Dove 1

Peregrine Falcon 1

Cassin's Kingbird 4

Western Kingbird 2

Horned Lark 16

Northern Rough-winged Swallow 2

Barn Swallow 26

House Wren 1

American Pipit 6

Yellow-rumped Warbler 1

Chipping Sparrow 6

Brewer's Sparrow 3

Vesper Sparrow 10

Pyrrhuloxia 1

Eastern/Western Meadowlark 1

Great-tailed Grackle 4

House Finch 6

House Sparrow 12


  1. those ibis are beautiful! dust devils are neat, but i can't imagine with contacts...

  2. Wonderful list of birds, Chris! The Ibis are beautiful and I would be thrilled with the Phalarope. The dust storm is a neat capture! Looks like another great outing with Kathie! Happy Birding!

  3. This Texas girl calls a dust tornado a dirt devil! ;-)
    I like the iridescence of the ibis. I had never thought about describing them as Egyptian, but it fits. From now on I will most likely think of you when I see on!

  4. And once again you saw lots of birds despite the dust. I'm really glad I got to see the White-faced Ibis on its way through Northern AZ.

  5. As usual the shots are wonderful, but i love most the dust shapes, even if our country is full of dust we don't see them here in formation. That's a lot of birds, wonder if you memorize all of them!

  6. The gull with the shade is exquisite!

  7. Great series of birds, the ibis and the gull are just outstanding.

  8. Some brilliant sightings there Chris - so love reading about your birding and wildlife expeditions :)

  9. Amazing count, Chris! And wonderful photos! Love seeing each birding adventure as it progresses...and your posts are sheer joy!

    I attended the Anti-Monsanto Rally today (my very first protest rally!) :-) and I have also contacted the attorneys you listed in one of your posts concerning the San Pablo River. I have some ideas and would love to connect with someone else who cares about stopping that drain off! Email me if you want to get together and discuss this...now that school is over, maybe you will have a little more time. Just let me know: mariecarmean97@Reagan.com.


Thanks for stopping by!