Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Birder Acknowledgements

Photo of a Red-necked Phalarope taken by Gordon Karre
I wouldn't be the birder I am today if it weren't for several people I've "met" along the way. Of course, I continue to grow and learn everyday. I'm a fast study with an appetite to know more.  Blogger and Facebook have been wonderful resources for hooking up with others to find those rare birds.  NONE OF THE PICTURES TODAY ARE MY OWN(except one really bad one!)  These were shots taken from treks we've been on together or like the shot below, from the mega rare bird we all saw on the same trail.    Hopefully this post will be a resource for new and old birders alike.  I've seen these birds, but as we all know, the camera doesn't always capture what we truly see.
Photo of the Buff-Collared Nightjar by Chris West  
First, I'd like to thank Chris West from The Southwest Wisconsin Birder for his fantastic Facebook page known as The Facebook Bird ID of the world.  There are times that we become stumped by a bird.  We don't like to do it often because our pride may get in the way, but sometimes a second opinion is necessary.  Over the past year, this site has helped me pay better attention to the details on those blasted gulls, flycatchers and sparrows!  Now the story behind the pic above.  The Buff-Collared Nightjar is a mega rare bird in the US.  It has stayed around the Madera Canyon area for quite awhile now.  Each night, birders from across the country come to listen and see this Mexican bird.  Chris West and Laurens Halsey captured it perfectly on our AZFO photo documentation page.  To capture this bird at night is super tricky so I just enjoyed watching it fly over my head and hear its call.  A lot of people were walking around the scrub with their torches(flashlights). This area has rattlesnakes and large centipedes.  One of our local experienced birders got stung.  Not cool. It's also an area full of illegal border crossing.  In fact, on the night we went, there was a border skirmish.  We were all too occupied with this fantastic bird to notice, but a birder left early and caught all the action on the road. In these types of birding situations out here, go with a buddy. Kathie even mentioned she wouldn't have night birded alone without me. I feel the same way. If you are interested in finding this bird, it's off of the Proctor trail at Madera Canyon in the primitive campsites(near campsite 7).  I believe there is more than one bird now which is great news.  But anyhow, this is a great shot(above) of the night bird. Now why didn't I get a shot?  Well I did, but this is how it turned out....
The flash caught the eye and made it glow. It flew right over my head along with a lot of bats:)  It's impressionistic art:)  Feelings about night photography.  In all honesty, nocturnal birding is one of my favorite things to do.  It's a breeze for my ears.  It's more about listening than anything else.  My eyes are terrible at night, but I can zone in on the bird with my ears and find the bird quickly.  I'm extremely helpful for those who can't hear very well. Usually I will be the first to pick up several light sounds and clue the group in.  On this night, I heard two.  Many thought it was just one, but there were two distinct from a distance and the one photographed by Chris above. Most said that there was one bird, but several days afterwards, there were reports of more Nightjars calling confirming my suspicions. I hope to capture this bird one day on film along with the Mexican Whip-poor-will, Common Poorwill, etc.  I had thought it impossible to capture these birds with my camera until I found the Lesser Nighthawk by accident.  It just proves that it's not impossible. But it is tricky.
Photo of a Bank Swallow by Gordon Karre
Another group of shots comes from my birder friend Gordon Karre from Birding Adventures.  We are both searching for lifebirds.  I am hoping that maybe we can plan trips together to different countries down the road. We will go to Mexico this upcoming weekend which isn't something many birders around here wanted to do.  Mexico, around the border, can be tricky. But I have the Spanish and background info that eliminates some of the risk.  I have found Gordon to be a powerful ally in the research behind the lifebirds.  He says he's not extreme, but I may think otherwise:)  He's a chaser with a plan. And I really enjoyed birding with him.  I am by no means an expert at all, but if you give me a list, I will learn the trails and memorize the calls quickly.  During one of those days on the trails, I was more focused on getting him birds for his lifelist and Arizona list.  So I became a little lazy with my camera:)  I'm not always in the mood to be a photographer.  Sometimes I just want to watch birds. As was the case with this bird below......
Photo of a Clay-colored Sparrow by Kathie Brown
None of this would be possible without my friend and mentor Kathie Brown from Kathie's Birds.  I will be forever grateful to her for taking me under her wing.  We work well together.  Because of Kathie, I have become more aware of things.  She taught me about ebird. She showed me the places.  Together we search new areas that we might not have visited alone.  The above pic is of the Clay-Colored Sparrow. We noticed at least 2 sparrows doing something different near the Whitewater Draw.  I was driving and not able to get real great shots of the bird.  Remember to shut off your car to minimize vibrations while trying to take pics. As a team, we both snapped shots of the birds from different angles.  This bird could have easily been seen as a juvenile Brewer's Sparrow, but my shot from a different angle helped ID the bird as a Clay-colored sparrow.  Unfortunately, my shot wasn't clear and crisp like this one.  People ask me, "Is it better to bird with others?"  The answer is yes....sometimes.  I have found a birding group with about 4-5 people to be alright.  It just depends on the talkers:)  I like talking, but it distracts my hearing which is the only way I can find the birds.  But many times, birding with 2 or 3 people is the best.  Without my photo, this sparrow would have been listed as a juvenile Brewer's.
Photo by Gordon Karre
Gordon really took great shots when he came to visit me a couple months ago.  They said Red-necked Phalaropes were seen.  I know what they look like as I had seen them before, but I was too lazy taking shots of them.  This is where Gordon and I differ in styles.  He is a perfectionist when it comes to photography and from what I've observed, he is "on" at all times when birding.  I sometimes get distracted:)
Photo of the Snowy Plovers by Gordon Karre

I have really enjoyed birding with so many wonderful people.  If there is one universal truth about life; it's that we work better as a group when we're all working together as a team towards a common goal.  I see what we are capable of, but it became more clear as I began to bird with others. We really can achieve anything.  And there isn't any shame in asking for help.  Whatever it is we do, it's better with a friend.  
White-rumped Sandpipers Photo by Gordon Karre
And speaking of friend.  I wouldn't be able to do any of this without the support from my partner in crime.  Micheal will sometimes go with me and bird, but he tolerates my obsessions.  He's the one who purchased those blasted cameras for my birthday!!! As a result, he created a monster.
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher taken by Micheal Ada
He does have the birder ability.  While it's mostly about the photography stuff, Micheal now enjoys calling out birds like this Black-tailed Gnatcatcher.  Like most people, he is fascinated with the colorful and odd acting birds. Finally, I'd like to thank people like Laurence Butler, John Williams, Deborah Vath, Mark Stevenson, Andrew Core and Rich Hoyer for their expertise and experience in the field.  Their chases have made me an addict to chasing as well.  If you ever question why you blog, don't.  I have met Cynthia White and Kelly Rishor out on the trails. These two are amazing.  I first met Cynthia out on the trails in Prescott searching for the Tundra Swans.  I met Kelly on the trails of Catalina State Park.  In fact, Kelly helped me get a mini-weekend in Mexico organized by hooking me up with another wildlife lover.  So thank you!!!  Both of these ladies became virtual friends as I suspect will several other bloggers during my upcoming trips around the country and elsewhere.  I have always believed that blogging is an educational tool for all of us.  A social way to network and a great place to meet new people who share similar interests.  I am not an ornithologist, but I am getting "home schooled" in the ways of birding.  Coming up on Las Aventuras.....a weekend with Gordon Karre in Mexico and my Guatemala travels.  More to come.....


  1. To cudowne mieć przyjaciół, którzy pomagają w poznawaniu ptaków i razem jeżdżą na podglądanie ich. Przy okazji robisz sliczne zdjęcia. Pozdrawiam.
    It's wonderful to have friends who help you learn about the birds and together they drive you to view them. By the way, you are doing very pretty picture. Yours.

  2. It is great to meet other bloggers and birders. And now you have new friends! Great post, Chris! Happy Birding!

  3. Hola Chris!!!.. que bonita la segunda imagen.. Este pájaro es muy similar a nuestro Chotacabras.. Aquí tenemos dos el gris y el pardo.. Un saludillo..

  4. This is a lovely testament on how technology can be such a positive resource in our lives!

  5. A very nice post Chris. You have a lot of friends who have helped you. The photos today are great.

  6. The Nightjar has a prehistoric look to it. Very interesting bird.

  7. Excelentes fotografias....

  8. Always something fun and new to learn about on your blog! The red-necked phalarope is beautiful and I was amazed to read about the nightjar sighting.

  9. This is a really heartwarming story and touching too. I keep on saying that I have met (in person and virtually) the most fascinating people because of my bird photography and the list just keeps on growing!

  10. Hi Chris, You certainly have learned alot since I first knew you as a blogger... You obviously have learned from the 'masters' out there.... AWESOME.

    Can't wait to see more from your Guatemala trip.


  11. Although I'm usually out hiking alone, thus quieter and see more, I have to agree that a small group is likely to see more, and share. Plus, of course, meeting other bloggers is awesome. ;)

  12. I look forward to seeing you again in September? I am so looking forward to cracking out the tent in the closet and finally getting up to the North Rim. Plus it'll be great to see you again with a much more relaxed pace:)

  13. Such a great post! Life should be about sharing and friendships and
    I wish you all the best on your next birding trip.

  14. Lovely post Chris, I'm sure your group of birding friends will appreciate how you feel, I feel there will be many more adventures to come :)

  15. Thank you for the shout out, Chris!Sorry for the late reply. I was Googling Blue-gray GC, and stumbled across your post. I'm so glad you and Gordon went on the Mexico run. Looks like it was a fun trip and I do hope to go on the next one! Until then...happy birding. hope to meet up on the trails before you return to school. K


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