Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Winds of Change

The seasonal desert changes are subtle and in some cases, almost invisible. If it weren't for the promise of lower temps in the fall and winter, southern Arizona wouldn't be such a popular place. And so when migration commences towards the end of July into August, birders know that some incredible birds will come our way. The only thing?  The onslaught of deadly heat. This year, for the first time in my life, I can actually see the changes. 

Blue-footed Booby

Nowhere is it more apparent than with the migration of birds.  Storms still blow in rare birds like the Blue-footed Booby above.

And people still escape the heat with water.  It was this way before and forever it shall be I think until the end of our days.

On a hot day with a Mega Rare, Code 4 bird(5 is the highest), North American birders came from all over the country once again to get this first ever recorded sighting of a Blue-footed Booby in SE Arizona.  I have seen these birds in the thousands on several islands off of the coast of Northern Mexico. But for Kathie, it would be a lifebird.

I just needed to bird.....really bird.  I hadn't done so for a full week.  But as is the case during this time of year, my thoughts turned towards the future.   

I have been reading about the historical birding spots of Arizona.  Some have changed.  Some have not. And some are in danger of disappearing.  Thanks to great documentation by birders over the decades, we, today, are able to walk their footsteps and glimpse at what was, is or may become.

Kino Springs

We birded Patagonia and Kino Springs near the Mexican border.  These places, thankfully haven't changed much.

Lazuli Bunting

But as birds are now heading south, my thoughts wandered more about old birder haunts that I had read about.  Birders who are now gone.  Had the birds they had seen also changed over time?

American Coot

And then there are the birds. Those magical wonderful and random sightings that happen during migration.  I watched as a Nashville Warbler went through my garden patch in Midtown Tucson(Speedway/Alvernon).  It was a show stopper. It slowly jumped around my potted plants and while it was thrilling, I thought about the long journey ahead.  For 5 special minutes, I watched outside my living room window as it hopped out of my area picking up bugs from the ground until it disappeared for good.  And then I was sad.  In my mind, I said, "Buen viaje" or Good journey.  Never had I felt that before. I have about 15 regular birds at my feeders.  This particular bird was a first!!!  We traveled hours to find this bird in Yuma during winter. But for this time around, we didn't have to do anything but look out our window. 

Nashville Warbler
And yet our weekend was full of wonderful finds in Sonoita and Patagonia.......we discovered Grasshopper Sparrows, Buntings and more!

Eastern Meadowlark

Then we stopped at a place to watch birds.  It has been historically a birder hotspot for many decades. As with everything, change is inevitable.  The Paton's passed away and today Tucson Audubon, Victor Emanuel Nature Tours and the American Bird Conservancy are trying to save the house and property.  It's a landmark for so many people.  But will it stay open?  Time will tell.  It might very well have been my last time there. If you are interested in helping save this place, click here to make a donation. This drive will happen until October 15th.

Paton's House

I watched the Pipevine Butterfly dance across flowers.

Time has changed me.  It has made me more aware and sensitive to the subtle movements within this larger world.  One cycle ends and another begins.  But just how many cycles will I get of my own in this lifetime?  I have only scratched the surface on this lifelong world journey.


  1. Great post, Chris! I read about a Booby being seen in New Mexico and it was taken to a rescue center, could this be the same bird? The Lazuli Bunting is beautiful. I am looking forward to the fall migration. Beautiful photos, happy birding!

  2. Who knows if your next step will be "spidering" :-)

  3. Beautiful bird watching! looks a great relaxable day.

  4. Hola Chris!!!.. Muy chulas las fotos.. Esperemos que el viento sople a tu favor.. Un saludillo..

  5. lovely! i'd love to see a lazuli bunting! wow! and blue-footed booby is great!

  6. Man you really like those riparian areas don't you ? What else is a desert dweller attracted to ? As much as I like Tucson the way it once was, I'd go for outskirts of Sierra Vista.

    BTW, I understand you have a new Interstate 11 problem ? Call it the new I-10 bypass under a different cloak issue.

  7. Hi Kevin:) Definitely love the Riparian areas during summer:) In winter, it'll be the desert:) Yes....Interstate 11.....don't know much about it other than.....they are planning yet another route.

  8. Oh, what beautiful and interesting birds you've seen, and I also love the butterfly over the zinnias and the spider!

  9. Mam nadzieję, że dom do obserwowania ptaków zostanie uratowany i będzie otwarty. Patrzyłam na duże zdjęcia i bardzo miło się wszystko na nich podziwiało. Pozdrawiam.
    I hope the house to watch the birds will be saved and will be open. I watched the big pictures and very nice to all of them admired. Yours.

  10. The one thing constant about all life is change, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. All we can do is enjoy every second along the way. And it's quite obvious you do.

  11. Hope they do get enough money to keep the Paton House open... What a good place for birders to meet and have conferences, etc....

    Great photo of the Booby.--and I love seeing the Nashville Warbler.... Wonder if they can be seen in Nashville, TN????? ha


  12. Another great post Chris with some beautiful photos - love the spider :) Do hope they manage to keep Paton House open

  13. I like that American Coot and of course "Spidy"

  14. Chris, very thoughtful and well said. What a fun day we had, in spite of the heat! Seeing the booby was amazing!


Thanks for stopping by!