|Working at our Mexican booth with Yogi for the Wings Over Willcox event|
The most exciting outdoor trip?
|Mary's Lake Campground near Estes Park, CO|
The most frustrating experience?
|In the cloud forests near San Cristobal De Las Flores, Chiapas|
The craziest experience?
I wanted a California Condor this year but not in Arizona. I had wanted to see if I could find one in Utah at Zion National Park. BUT!!!! In order to get to the spot, we had to do this crazy hike to the top along a cliff. I hate heights and this trek truly challenged me:) I honestly didn't research this one and let Micheal plan it out. I'm glad he didn't tell me ahead of time how scary this hike would be. Luckily, I found my California Condor at the top and the hike paid off! From the post titled, Mukuntuweap.
A Moment of Pure Joy?
|Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park|
Best couple activity?
We got married in Rocky Mountain National Park with our families together. Here we rented cabins and it was like we were back in Minnesota at the summer cottage so many years ago. The post is titled All With the Family.
This gorgeous little brown bird, the Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer, hopped around like a warbler yet hung out with hummingbirds. It was VERY unusual! As the name suggests, it uses its' bill to pierce flowers for nectar. While hummingbirds pollinate other flowers, this "nectar robber" does not:) Fascinating!
What was my best bird this year? Well there were many, but there is usually one that truly stands out. This year it was a Nava's Wren. It's a very specialized bird living in a hard to reach habitat. The bird is only found in 9 locations in a very tight geographical area. It's range is...you guessed it....declining due to urban sprawl, cattle ranching and road construction. It's a bird of the darkness. It clings to the shadows. It lives and breeds within limestone caves and can be found around limestone outcroppings. This wren was tricky! But a little patience paid off BIG TIME. From the post, Vanishing Lands.
Best study sessions?
I have gotten to the point now in my birding where I am fascinated by data. This year, my first count was with Magill. Here we ran around the urban sprawl of downtown Phoenix counting the expansion of Rosy-faced Lovebirds in some sketchy areas. I loved it! My other project is ongoing and continues in Northern Sonora at the Aribabi Ranch. It's a newer "patch" that I have been monitoring since 2013. From the posts, To the Heart of the Matter and The Water Highways
Elegant Trogons. I hear their call and always get excited. So I leap over rock and river to observe this lovely bird. As I am recording audio on this bird, I slip and my cell phone slowly flies out of my hand as I say, "Noooooooo!" It lands in the river upright and is my first cell phone mishap. Luckily, I find out Micheal extended the warranty on my phone and we were able to replace it. From Blood and Stone
Most epic moment?
Searching for the White-tailed Ptarmigan at the Alpine Level of Rocky Mountain National Park. That was one epic trek! From Destiny Awaits
Oh, that one is easy. There was a hot Mexican number by the name of a Tufted Flycatcher(Code 5) who decided to make the forests of the Huachuca Mountains home for the summer. In May, we hiked miles to get to this bird through forest, rock and stream to find these two tiny birds nesting. It took everyone about a week to recover, but those flycatchers were sooooo cute! And worth it! Plus the hike took us down into some amazing scenery. The Tufted Angels
Favorite place to bird?
The Chiricuahua Mountains. If you have never been, you must go. This place has more animals than people! It's so much fun.
From the Portal based blog series Not All Who Wander Are Lost
A place I could call home?
I love Gunnison and I keep dipping on the Gunnison Sage-Grouse. And I hope I keep dipping on the bird because I love going back to that cute little town in Southwestern Colorado.
|Bitter Lake near Roswell, New Mexico|
The social connect?
This year I had the pleasure of birding with several incredibly cool people that I had never met before.
|Kathleen Cameron explores Madera Canyon for the first time!|
Most overlooked place to bird?
Gunnison, Colorado. There's more here than just the sage grouse!
Heart attack moment but WOW! The Alpine region of the Rocky Mountains is spectacular! What a treat!
Sacred Bird Moment?
I was surrounded by thousands of Sandhill Cranes alone as they passed just feet above my head. I could feel their wing beats as they went to settle down in a water area nearby. From the post Carry Me Wind
The "I hate all birders who don't have jobs" moment?
Probably one of the biggest moments for birders this year in Tucson happened when a pair of RARE Trumpeter Swans flew into the Sweetwater Wetlands for the day. Every birder and their mother went to observe these birds. And me? Oh, I just stuck in my classroom staring at children taking a test. I paced my room like a caged animal. When that school bell rang, I shot out the door to observe my lifer Trumpeter Swans before the sun set. That night, the swans left Tucson and were never seen again. From the post Miraculous Chaos
The worst decision?
Gray Vireos can suck it. There is one excellent place to see this amazing bird. If you have a good vehicle, the roads of Mt. Ord can be quite inviting. However, even if you have a good vehicle, that doesn't guarantee you won't get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. But hey...the views are amazing! So are the Gray Vireos. From the post The Land of Shadows.
Most studied bird?
Hermit Warblers. This bird wasn't a lifer but it was the most studied. During migration, I went to several locations to really understand this bird. And I feel like I now know this warbler well.
The bird that scares!
The Pomarine Jaeger. A bird that eats gulls. It's a flying tank on steroids. And there's nothing stopping it! Favorite Jaeger hands down!
The bird that forced me into a place I would never visit.
Utah. The land of Chukars and weirdos stuck in the 1950's culture of secrets, fake smiles, lies and cloning their neighbor, the Joneses. But it's one of the few states with countable Chukars. It was exciting to see this bird with my friend Mia. Utah's culture was not my thing. The landscape was quite beautiful but I will not be returning there anytime soon.
Perhaps in the strangest of ways, I was meant to find the Whooping Crane. It was not expected during my visit to Wisconsin and yet there it was. I began the year with a crane so it seemed natural to end with another amazing crane. This endangered bird was a great way to bookend my year of discoveries. I sat in my car with the windows down breathing the chilly air thinking about the amazing world of birds. During 2015, I saw 560 incredible birds in North America meeting my year goal.
As we begin the year again, I sit down and plot a new course taking me both to familiar and unknown areas searching for our planet's birds. I will take on new roles as a bird field guide. My life continues to change as it does for everyone. Let's get this 2016 year started with wonderful memories. Until next time!