Sunday, November 23, 2014

Surf's Up!

Black-crowned Night-Heron
Right now, the watering holes around Arizona are hot with migrating waterfowl from the north.  Birders are rushing to these areas to pick up a rare bird or two for their checklists.  

Thousand of tiny bugs catch the last light of the day.  
Over the past week, I've left work and headed straight away to our local parks and watering holes to see if I can catch a gull, duck or rare goose. 

Ducks and more ducks!  Ring-necked Duck, American Coots, American Wigeons and Domestic Ducks are just some of the characters who show up for their picture.
The light diminishes quickly now.  By the time I arrive to my destinations, I have about one hour to bird before it's completely dark. 

Coachline Pit Ebird Hotspot
In many ways, birding around water areas is very relaxing.  I grab my binoculars and just scan the waters.  Birds float past, fly overhead or just simply appear out of nowhere from beneath the water's surface when I stand in one spot. 

Western Grebe
Recently, Arizona has seen a great number of rare birds zip through the area.  

Clark's Grebe-my first decent photo documentation of this tricky bird.  Note orange colored bill and dark above the eye.  The above pic shows how similar the Clark's and Western Grebes are.  In Pima County, a Clark's Grebe is a rare gem. This bird was seen at Sahuarita Community Lake
There have been amazing birds like the very rare American Tree Sparrow, White-winged Scoter, Purple Finch, Bonaparte's Gull, etc......

When the report of a Surf Scoter surfaced, I drove 2 hours to go find it!  And so I sifted through every American Coot floating around the boat launch until I caught sight of my target bird. 

Say's Phoebe
With the cool temps and even cooler breezes off Saguaro Lake, I sat on a rock and watched my lifebird float past me nearby the shore.  There she was.  Something special.  A gem.

Saguaro Lake
Scoters tend to stay in the deeper waters.  Most people count them with their scopes from shore.  When I heard that this bird was hanging out near the shore, it was a no brainer.  The Scoter at this moment trumped everything else being seen in the state. 

I watched this bird chase coots and dive into the water. She was magnificent and made Year Bird 456.  Next time you are at a park, check to see if a swan, duck, grebe, coot, scoter, heron, gull or sandpiper has stopped by.  You never know who is going to show up:)

Female Surf Scoter
While on my road trips this week, I've been listening to Rose Ave's new album.  I can't stop humming the tune to this song!



  1. The first shot is a beauty. I notice you have a few more good ones. Have you got a new lens?

  2. Great sightings, Chris! I love the Grebe shot! And the wigeons are another favorite of mine.. Looks like a great road trip! Happy Birding!

  3. No Adrian, I'm thinking my eyes are getting sharper with the shots. I look back at old photos and think....what the??!!! I posted that? All part of the photography learning I guess. Thanks for noticing!

  4. I especially like the Grebe. Amazing shots. I just jumped over to Amazon to buy the CD and then came back for a second look. That evening light made the one shot of the ducks and others look like a painting.

    1. I hope you like it. It's really good I think and ive been playing it over and over again :-)

  5. Fall is such an active time to catch those rare visitors. Your photography has noticeably improved over time. I love your excitement over these finds.

  6. I know you didn't have much time however you managed to see lots of birds and all the shots are great. Love the Grebe esp.

  7. Hello - it's been WAAAAY too long since I paid you a 'visit'! There are a LOT of rarities showing up downunder as well - maybe this year they're ALL getting blown off course?? Love your shots, as usual!

  8. I love the way you share your excitement and passion over birds Chris - lovely photos as always. The second one is very special :)

  9. Some lovely shots in this post. It seems the cooler weather has rejuvenated your birding!

  10. You've captured the essence of winter birding beautifully, Chris, with these super images.

    Since I've become a bird watcher, I'm enjoying winters more than ever. The short days have their advantages. We have to concentrate our efforts into a smaller time-space, but this is compensated for by the birds having to do the same, giving us some very productive sessions.

  11. Great photos of all the birds. The late afternoon lighting you have captured is very beautiful.

  12. Love your photo of the bugs - like stars in the galaxy. Sounds like a great way to chill every day after work.

  13. Beautiful shots! I especially like the photo with the mountains in the background--beautiful scenery! I don't think I've seen so many different kinds of ducks together at one time! The photo of the bugs was pretty neat as well.

  14. Ce sont de merveilleuses photos ! Très joli post !

  15. Delightful post. The shot of all the bugs was "magical" looking.
    Wow you have an amazing place to scout birds, so beautiful.
    Congrats on spotting the Surf Scoter. I've never heard of that bird before.

  16. Lovely scenes Chris. I have the same troubles now with short days and no light by soon after 3. As you say keep looking and you just never know, a lifer could come along at any time. Fantastic shot of the grebe and congrats on yet another lifer.

    Check out Twite, a relative of Linnet - twitter, tweet, tweet etc that's where the name comes from.

  17. Lovely birds! The redhead is gorgeous. I enjoy water areas a lot. It's difficult to get any shots here at all. It's not light even during the day.

  18. Hi Friend, Just stopping by to say Happy Thanksgiving to you. Even in places where Thanksgiving is not celebrated (or celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November like ours is) —it can be a time for each of us to take time to thank God for our blessings and also not to forget the “Giving” in the word, ThanksGIVING. We all have lots of blessings —but many times, we ignore the giving part….Not just on Thanksgiving Day, but all of the time, please take time to contact family/friends just to say HI… And remember that a big SMILE can lift someone’s day…. Little things like that can really HELP..

    Great photos, Chris. Love the Clark's Grebe.

    God Bless…
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  19. i'd love to see a redhead someday! well, and a black-crowned, and a western grebe, and... :)

    happy thanksgiving, chris!

  20. Great shots - some of the theses grebes must be a little more cooperative than many!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  21. Beautiful song...and I loved the post! You are seeing so many interesting birds right now! Your hour before the sun sets sounds so peaceful too.

  22. I love waterfowl and is a great joy to be able to watch so many of them. Brilliantly shown by you. Regards.

  23. By the way, thanks for the info on the cactus wren nesting in the cholla. I don't think I'll lose the verdin...they've been here ever since I moved in, and are constantly trying to feed at the hummingbird feeders. I only noticed the nest this summer before the tree was cut down, and hope they will nest in one in the front yard instead next spring. I'll keep you posted! :-) Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  24. I did, thank you! Yeah the Verdins are a hardy bunch. They'll find another place to nest:)

  25. I love the Western Grebe, and one that is tops, well shot Chris.

  26. Chris, I am glad you went and saw all those birds, but that photo of the Redhead is just stunning! MY favorite for sure!


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