Only days would pass before I'd find myself back in Madera Canyon. It was inevitable. It has been a very active summer for birders here in Southern Arizona. Many are trying to find some rather difficult birds in our very trying Arizona heat. Mix it up with some crazy monsoon weather along with our active wildlife and as they are finding......it's a vacation they won't forget anytime soon:) So as Kathleen and Zeke left for our southern mountains, young birders Walker and Dalton arrived to find several lifers of their own.
|male Broad-billed Hummingbird
|male Brown-headed Cowbird
|Overlooking the California Gulch
When I spot one of these rare beauties, I document the time and place with a photo. I make sure that they are safely off the road before leaving the scene. And that means just watching to make sure it crosses. I do not carry them and as you'll find out there's a reason why. This tortoise was on a very quiet road and was safe from getting hit by a car.
|the ancient Desert Tortoise
But the real story isn't about any of us. It's about the father/son team we met. Enter James and Monroe McKay. James, who is recently retired, is traveling around the ABA world with his 87 year old father. Together they are accomplishing amazing things. Their one rule? Father and son must BOTH see or hear the bird before they can count it. Night birding operates primarily with the use of our ears. If we are lucky, we will just see the shadow of the bird fly around us. If we can ID the call, we can count the bird. Well, his father could not hear the soft "laughing" of the nearby Elf Owls. Birders united to help both these men see the owl.
|Here are some hardcore birders. From left to right, James and Monroe McKay and Walker and Dalton Noe
And within moments, we had the world's tiniest owl pass through the mesquite tree next to us where it was hanging out with some juveniles on a branch. Mission accomplished. They moved on their way until their "laughter" disappeared further down into the canyon. While we waited for the night sky, I learned much about their wonderful adventures across the country. It is an amazing accomplishment!
On a final note, since we are heading into September in a few days, my North American bird tally is at 493 for the year. My latest addition is the Sabine's Gull. There are a few that are currently migrating through the state of Arizona thanks in part to the active monsoon weather patterns here this year. I will say this about August. It has been a long and tough month for me as a birder. My energy levels are waaaaay down now that work is here again. Plus the heat makes everything so much more difficult. In the days ahead, we will be exploring a lot more of the wild wild west. I am looking forward to these treks with great anticipation. Not only will the birds be great, if we find them, but the landscape and temps alone will make the trekking so much more fun. And perhaps we'll meet a fellow blogger or two along the way:) Stay tuned for more....
For more about birds check out Wild Bird Wednesday(link on the left side top) and Anni's I'd-Rather-B-Birdin'.