Monday, October 27, 2014

A Stationary Front

A Gila Woodpecker at my feeder

I wake up and follow my daily routine.  I have money, but I don't have the proper amount of time.  Or I have the time but not the money.  Can't both coincide at the same time?:) The movement I had gained this year has stalled, at least for now. I imagine this isn't unique to just my situation but for anyone trying to accomplish a personal goal. 

A Harris's Hawk hangs out in the middle of the afternoon on the Santa Cruz Flats
Instead of chasing birds in far away locales, we stayed close to home and visited several places nearby.  The temps here in Tucson are still hot so we did quite a bit of birding from the car. We went to the Santa Cruz Flats and explored this 20+ mile area for raptors and possible Mountain Plovers.  Micheal had never seen a Crested Caracara(or a Mountain Plover) before so I took him to the ag fields where they are commonly seen. We didn't have to wait long before we found a Crested Caracara flying near a tractor. It's a bit early for the Mountain Plovers so I'll check again next month. 

A Western Grebe is one of MANY water birds found in the artificial lake of Arizona City
The winter birds are beginning to arrive.  Birders flock to all the watering holes to find something rare.  Waterfowl and hawks begin to show up in greater numbers.  The Harris's Hawks hang out longer on the telephone poles now that the temps are cooling down. 

Rock Pigeons hang out at Ft. Lowell Park waiting for the people to make a mess
I have a hard time staying inside the house, but I had no desire to drive a couple hours in any one direction.  Currently, I need to find a handful of birds within the state.  One is the Mexican Chickadee.  It's a great little bird found in the Chiricahuas.  However, I'm thinking I'd like to spend a night at one of their great B & B's for some relaxing birding over a weekend. 

A White-crowned Sparrow peers at me through a bush at Sweetwater Wetlands
Other birds include the Bell's Sparrow, Rough-legged Hawk and Tundra Swan.  Over the course of the weekend, I ran errands and did some investigaton on a Southern California birding run I have planned for in December. 

Cooper's Hawk
For now, I'm just going to relax and bird. A note for my Tucson readers and snowbirder friends.  I went to Sweetwater Wetlands this weekend and did some reading up on the recent crime wave that has happened there.  Apparently, three cars were broken into over a 3 day period. In fact, the last two times I've been there, I witnessed a loose dog in the reeds and yet another car break-in. The family was in hysterics and so we had to call 911. I won't go into the details but regardless, some may tell you it's no big deal.  I don't know about you, but it is to me!  I'd like to apply money towards another trek and not towards a new car window:) 

A European Starling dazzles at Reid Park
Here's my recommendation if there aren't any cars in the parking lot at Sweetwater.  Park on the opposite side along Commerce Dr. where the businesses are located.  There are plenty of parking spaces with other cars present.  Enter the Wetlands from along the bike path along the wash.  You'll be able to see the recharge basins better anyway.  There are still lots of amazing birds and the area looks great.  Just be aware that they've been having theft issues. Sunday afternoon I was there alone and it felt weird not having others around me birding. 

A Canada Goose follows us around from our recent trip to Colorado Springs
Right now, I feel like these geese meandering....not sure which way I'll go.  But somehow I'll get there:) 

For more from around the world check out Wild Bird Wednesday.
 Also check out another one of Tommy D's hilarious Birding Stereotype videos about people who are just into ONE type of this case, hawks.  The Santa Cruz Flats are well known for some of the best wild raptor shows in Southern Arizona during our winter months. 


  1. It's a shame that people cannot visit a recreational area and not molested in one way or the other. I am so used to my safe little area I forget about the bad guys. Not a good idea, they are everywhere.
    I really like that Coopers Hawk. What a beauty!!

  2. You will get there but in the meantime, i have enjoyed all your photographs.

  3. Great review of what is happening around... So sad.
    But you know better. And birds will still hang around for sure.

  4. Chris, you have awesome birds right there near home.. It is nice sometimes not to have to travel to see them.. LOL, I think we all wish for more money! Awesome photos, I love the raptors. Happy Birding!

  5. Gees I thought the mosquitoes were your worst enemy :( All of a sudden I'm feeling happy with my fascination with the flowers in my backyard. Stay safe.

  6. Break-ins etc are one of the hazards of birding worldwide I think. I do like that last image - reminds me of an Indian summmer evening with the warmth, not the heat of summer and a sense of time standing still - however temporarily!

  7. Beautiful photos Chris and great birds :) Stay safe on your travels.

    Years ago we were up in the Cairngorms, Scotland (miles from anywhere!) and went on an organised event to feed Reindeer. When we got back to the car park 3 or 4 cars had had their windows smashed (not ours luckily for us) but it was quite a sobering thought that this happen in the middle of nowhere where you felt safe!!

  8. A great set of pictures, but the Grebe steals it for me. What a bird!

  9. Well, I had been thinking about going to Sweetwater soon, but now I don't know. My hubby can't walk around, so he says he could stay in the parking lot and watch the cars. :-) Well, I'll let you know....:-) Great photos as always. I know what you mean about it still being hot and not good for getting out and doing anything. Where are the Santa Cruz Flats? I want to drive up to see some fall color somewhere in a few weeks, but am not sure the best time to go, or the best place to go for that. Hopefully there will be some birds and wildlife too on our venture out. Did you see my post on Tumacacori a week or so ago? We only saw one cave swallow there, and that was inside the mission. LOVED the mission!

  10. beautiful hawks! love the rock pigeon line-up!

  11. Awesome post Mr. Chris!!! Some nice birds you have seen there. I must admite that I like hawks a lot as well, just not that much!

  12. Awesome collection of photos today! I can't choose a favorite!

  13. Beautiful images, my fave is Cooper's Hawk, love it.

  14. Thanks everyone! Marie, I'm just catching up on blogs after an exhausting trip....crazy times right now! Sooooo.....fall colors and Santa Cruz Flats.

    The Santa Cruz Flats revolve around a place known as the Evergreen Sod Farm. It's the large area behind Picacho Peak. It had been a relatively unknown place until birders found several special birds hanging out in this area. Mountain Plovers and Crested Caracara are the two I'm referring to BUT there is also a healthy population of Burrowing Owls that way not to mention wintering Longspurs! So it's a hot place to bird...figuratively and literally:) It doesn't have great roads, there's lots of dust and the landscape is rather...dull:) But it's still quite fascinating if you've never been there. Take I-10 North to Phoenix. Here's a link from Laurence Butler to help with al.

    Autumn colors....hmmmmm. Tricky. Ramsey Canyon or Summerhaven might be alright for that.....the real scenic ones are further north around Sedona or the North Rim of the Grand Canyon....Greer, etc. Hope you've been having a good week!

  15. Well, you are living in a pretty good area if it is a time in your life when you can't travel (and we've all been there). Anyway, we saw lots of birds around Tucson when we spent winters there ... and your pictures are great.
    Shame about the break-ins though. Yes it is definitely a big deal.

    There was a guy in our RV Park when we stayed there one winter who was a hawk watcher (only), so I am off to watch the funny video. It's been years, but I might recognize him in it . He actually even looked a bit like a hawk (it was our private joke).

  16. The hawk is gorgeous! I'm looking forward to reading about your next adventure.

  17. That video was funny! Might be the grandson of the guy in our RV Park that time ;>). I know this is actually an actor, but I can vouch that these Strange people do exist out there.

  18. Beautiful captures. I really love that last image.

  19. Fabulous shots, Chris! I particularly enjoyed the Western Grebe. The pair of geese walking down the dirt path is so cute. You have such a nice eye.

  20. Great pictures Chris.
    The hawk is beautiful.

  21. I like the colors on that gila woodpecker...I hope to see one on some future trip. Just beware when time and money coincide...and it's a lack of both at the same time!

  22. It's quite amazing how much you can see without going far, afar away from home. :)

  23. Amazing that we do NOT have to go 'far' away to find beauty. It is right around us!!!! We can hike and find waterfalls not far from us---and that makes for a cheaper and more practical trip at times....Same is true for birding... Sometimes you can find LOTS of great birds near you... Neat, huh????

    Sorry about the break-ins though... So sad.....

    Love that White-Crowned Sparrow you pictured today.


  24. Well it just goes to show that no one has to travel far to see birds. And that Cooper's Hawk is a stunner Chris. Of course birder's cars are a target anywhere just in case a birder may have left expensive equipment inside - it's the same here at well known reserves, so good advice you offer Chris.

    The video is hilarious and reminds me of those who are "Rarity Only" birders here in the UK.

  25. Nice post - shame about the car break ins - there was a place I used to rock climb from where it was best to leave the car unlocked and open (with the spark plug leads removed!) rather than lock it and get the windows smashed.

    Funny video!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  26. Beautiful images as usual, Chris. That is too bad about crime at Sweetwater Wetlands. It is a place I would like to visit some day. My visits to Phoenix and Tucson have been too brief, but yet enjoyable opportunities to get together with family members in both cities.

  27. It's sad to hear of the problems with car break ins and theft. It's not a problem I have ever encountered but I may just have been lucky. I am pretty meticulous about leaving valuable stuff in the trunk.Great pictures of species I remember well from four trips to Arizona.


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