During my drive, I remembered my 300 start that began back on September 17th, 2013 with a Black-bellied Plover. I thought, "I'll never make it to 400. Who cares, why try?" I forgot about the number, yet curious birders would ask me what my state total was often and I'd reply, "I don't know." The birds in the 300 category are majestic, difficult(to find and ID sometimes) and mostly in areas outside of my Southern Arizona birding zone.
The California Condor for me is THE bird of my 300 list. It's the one I love the most. It's the one Micheal loved. And it's in the area furthest away from civilization......the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. One of the most beautiful places on this planet. And I'll be honest. This bird made me cry. The sighting gave me goosebumps and made my eyes water up. I always dreamed of seeing these birds in Arizona and around the Grand Canyon as a child. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd get the chance to see them in my lifetime. They were near extinction and I remember in 8th grade that I felt incredibly sad after our Biology teacher's lesson. I have always loved nature as a child, but today I have fully accepted it into my life. My life's work is only getting started. Thanks to many hard working people, these birds are slowly making a comeback today.
Eventually the list narrowed and the really difficult chases had to happen. The Ridgway's Rail is one of the trickiest birds to find. Not so hard to hear, but I wanted to SEE the bird. When I finally saw my first one, I felt a heavy weight lift off of my shoulder.
|Greater White-fronted Goose|
|Elusive American Bittern|
Later on, I returned with Micheal to visit our family in Colorado. We tried once again to find these birds on an amazing road trip into Gunnison, Colorado. I decided to make the route go through Teec Nos Pos, AZ for a quick check. Turned out to be the right idea and one of the most beautiful western routes to take during fall. And voila! 3 were hanging out along the highway. All I can say is NEVER AGAIN!
|I have great pics of these birds BUT I wanted to show my AZ friends that they really do live in Arizona:) And in that weird town of Teec Nos Pos! I swear it's a Klingon Settlement.|
|Elegant Tern at Lakeside Park|
During the weekend, I glowed. What a very special bird to mark my entrance into the AZ 400 club. This year I have some truly special places that I will be sharing with you all. I can't wait to visit them and report back. The life bird quest is about to begin again! Until next time......