Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Coon Bluff
Finishing a year of travel and birding is always stressful and sad at the same time because come January 1st, birders begin again.

Cedar Waxwing
So why keep doing it over and over again?  Sometimes it's the challenge while with other times it's curiosity.  For me, it's always about the birds and it's always about bettering myself.  I will say that I have become much more relaxed now in the field than I used to be.  

Greater Yellowleg
It certainly makes for fun birding.  During this past weekend, I joined up with Gordon once again to find rare birds, fun birds and every other bird in between. One of our stops was at Coon Bluff along the Salt River in Arizona.  While we dipped on a rare Reddish Egret, we observed many Greater Yellowlegs and Long-billed Dowitchers in their natural settings and not at some artificial water treatment plant.  That was amazing.

Gordon searches for something rare on his birthday!
And then we headed over to Gilbert Water Ranch and enjoyed the bird show over there. 

Red-breasted Sapsucker
Eventually we moved over to Scottsdale and enjoyed the company of a Red-breasted Sapsucker.  And for fun.....

Mandarin Duck
....we went to find a random wintering Mandarin Duck.  These ducks are not native to Arizona OR the US, but there are several feral populations.  In Arizona, they aren't ABA countable, but since I don't follow that list, it doesn't matter.  ABA stands for the American Birding Association.  If you play their game, you can only count the birds that they have listed as "legit" from their list. While I understand their logic behind the birds considered "countable", I don't follow it because ABA only works for Canada and the US.  It should count for Mexico, but it doesn't.  So I don't agree with that bit.  If you're doing North America, do ALL of it.  Some birders don't waste their time on non-countable ABA birds.  For someone like me, that thinking is rather confining especially when I consider myself a world birder. Anyhow, this non-countable Mandarin Duck is one of many birds that spark a debate between birders every time:)

Mandarin Ducks are found in east Asia but their populations are in decline in countries like Russia and China.  Japan has a healthy population at about 5000 pairs.  In the US, these birds found in the wild are considered either part of isolated feral populations or birds who have "escaped".  There is a small population in Sonoma, California and it is quite possible that their range is expanding according to recent reports.  Either way, this is one beautiful duck!  It's closely related to our Wood Ducks here in the US. 

Wood Duck
 And while I've been out having fun in the world of birding, I've totally been neglectful of my garden!  When I went to go get my mail, I found this one single persimmon fruit on a lonely branch!  It was VERY exciting!  This tree hasn't produced fruit for two years!

Persimmons Fruit-variety Fuyu
So I honored the plant and ate the fruit:)  Then it was off to find a Brown Pelican in the desert. 

Brown Pelican
In December, Arizona birding is quite hot (in the good meaning of the word) and is often overshadowed by the holidays.  There are several people doing "Big Years" in Arizona and I know how stressful it can be during this month.  Last year I did that challenge for the US!  My challenge for this year has been to find as many birds as I can in North America which includes Mexico! It has been a lot of fun, but my days are numbered:) For the ladies competing for that top number one spot, good luck!  I think you're all pretty great. Best of luck to Susan, Barbara, and Janine!

And when it's dark outside, I sit back and reflect on those exciting challenges that have happened over this past year. 

I'm not finished yet, but for now, I sit back and enjoy the wonders of the wild.  And this beautiful piece of owl art from my friend Kathie Brown!!!  This is simply awesome!  Thank you!!  And below, I have taken some video of these two rare and special birds. Until next time!

 The post title means,  "A Light Heart Lives Long".  It's Mandarin for Mandarin:)


  1. The pelicans are beautiful ;-)
    Céline & Philippe

  2. I laughed out loud about the countable ducks. Yep, birders here are just like the ones you know. I have seen some interesting ducks, including the Mandarin, which I count on my unofficial list. lol

  3. Love the wood and Mandarin duck shots and nice to see the waxwing

  4. Although it's stressful, I like the coming of the New Year as it's a chance to do better than This Year, particularly if it hasn't been such a successful one! It looks as if you've been doing well though!

  5. Native or not, that Mandarin duck is stunning. May you live long with a light heart.

  6. Mandarin Duck is so beautiful! Great shots!

  7. Oh, and I meant to say 号27和23没有一个侧请

    Best wishes - - - Richard

  8. The Owl art is beautiful Chris :) Lovely to see the Waxwing - it doesn't look as though we are going to have an irruption of this species here this winter :( I love Mandarins - we get them escapees sometimes in the wild over here - such colourful birds :)

  9. Glad you were willing to honor the mandarin. Beautiful duck, not matter that it is a released species in the US.

  10. Love the ducks, Chris! Countable or not, they count!

  11. Each to his own Chris but I have to say that even the hint of a feral bird is a real turn off. Mandarins in particular are way too exotic for the UK climate.

    Mind you, the idea of a Brown Pelican in the desert does sound appealing.

    I tried a persimmon for the first time recently. Not impressed unless it was unripe or a poor Spanish yellow variety? Send me a good one to taste.

    1. Phil, you gotta try the Fuyu variety...now those are tastier. But I agree...some taste nasty:)I forget that you get Mandarin Ducks over there as well. I was looking at the maps. Fascinating these introduced species!

  12. Your birdwatching always be your concern, because I love birds. I love shown duck. Regards.

  13. Stunning photos of the birds as always. Love those owls!!!

  14. That duck or gorgeous! I've never seen a pelican that looks like that, ours are white and black with a pink beak.

  15. I love the translation for Mandarin! How cool is that! Your photos and video of him are awesome and the red-breasted sap-sucker as well. The duck looks like he's interested briefly that photos are being taken of him. :-) Great post! Beautiful owl carving too!


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