Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Crazy Daisy

Five-striped Sparrow
Every year, I wonder how I'll end up seeing the Five-striped Sparrow in Arizona because somehow I always do. I never plan on searching for the bird but it's the birding community that demands to see this very special sparrow.  So once again this year, birder friends from Wisconsin really needed to end the search for their nemesis sparrow.  It was the last one on their list for the lower 48 of the US.  In Phoenix, my friends take people to see the LeConte's Thrasher.  Down here, it's the Red-faced Warbler and Five-striped Sparrow that people want to see. 

A very bright Warbling Vireo!
Last year in December, I had some sort of sinus infection that affected my hearing loss.  For several months, I wasn't able to hear the lower/softer hoot/chip notes of the birds and I became a little scared. The allergies/sinus infection cleared up and my ears are back to 100 percent again.  The reason I share this story?  Had I not heard the chip notes of the bird, I wouldn't have been able to pinpoint the location of the Five-striped Sparrow on the hillside. My eyes are soooo bad, but my ears act like my binoculars and locating beacons. 

Veined Ctenucha Moth
So as we all searched for birds, we noticed lots of wonderful bugs (and a snake!)  It's fun helping people find their birds and teaching them their calls.  

We did VERY well that day.  We heard and saw all of the Southern Arizona specialties like the Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Elegant Trogon, Sulfur-bellied Flycatchers, Five-striped Sparrow and even heard Montezuma Quail!  

I have to say though, the female Elegant Trogon was SILENT and I would have missed that one completely if it wasn't for Tom's eyes!  Even with his scope, I had a hard time finding the bird.  The female blended in perfectly with her surroundings at a very healthy distance (so for Tom to spot this bird with his binoculars was epic).  

Tiny Checkerspot

We had beautiful weather that day in Box and Florida Canyons.  

If you come to Southern Arizona this time of year, it's hard NOT to notice all the insects.  There are SO MANY strange and beautiful looking bugs. 

Sleepy Orange
 States in the US continue reporting a decline in bee populations.  I'm not sure if that's happening here in Arizona.  But again, I'm not sure if they've done research in the state.  What I can tell you is that I've observed healthy populations of bee species here in Southern Arizona.  I don't see the Sonoran Bumble Bee often, but then again, I'm not looking for it while on my treks.  I try to stay away from the buggier trails like the DeAnza trail this time of year.  I showed Tom and Carol a piece of this awesome trail and now I am regretting it with all the chigger bites:)  Chiggers are the worst!  

As we said our good-byes for the morning, we took a photo remembering the awesome views of the Five-striped Sparrow.  No longer a nemesis for these two amazing birders.  

An awesome moment!  Note to self, hair cut needed and that hat I'm wearing makes me look goofy
As I headed home looking forward to a shower from the suspect chigger attack on my legs, I looked over at the water treatment plant to see if I could spot the rare Brown Pelican.  I saw the bird and I saw a ton of birders there.  The pelican has been at this spot for weeks now. Surely they weren't there for that bird.  I continued down the highway and something inside of me told me to check the listserv.  Sure enough, another common but rare migrant for this time of year, the Sabine's Gull, was hanging out at the Amado WTP.  I high tailed it back to that spot to add this bird to my Pima County list.  

Sabine's Gull

There are several lifetime goals as a birder in general.  First priority, life birds.  Second priority, AZ State birds.  Third priority, Pima County birds. On this day I added Lucifer Hummingbird, Sabine's Gull and Five-striped Sparrow to my Pima County list.  Super exciting!  That doesn't happen very often!

While there, yet another state bird was being reported, the Roseate Spoonbill.  And not just one but TWO!  So Deborah Carney said let's go and I said ok.  I wasn't feeling the drive alone to Willcox after a busy morning out so I am grateful to her for driving and her optimism even after they were reported GONE!  It didn't change the fact that we were heading to Willcox.  It's a beautiful location and the sunsets are incredible.  The smell isn't so good because there is sewage here but if you plug your nose....

After not seeing the spoonbills, I began to watch the birders and just take in the surroundings.  This soft spoken birder took advantage of the cooler breezy weather to walk the grasslands around the "lake".  Just speaking with him made me feel at ease.  

There we stood, Deborah, this kind man and myself watching the White-faced Ibis settle in for the evening.  We watched for Lesser Nighthawks but no luck.  I went over the nighthawk calls with both birders and told them to listen for the "rarer" Common Nighthawk that could be passing through the area. I've had them here in the area before.  I was with Ms. Kathie Brown the first time we heard them so many years ago.  And on this night we were rewarded with a couple loud "PEENTS".  Not a bad way to end the day.  Until next time.....

PS.  This is the best time of year to see our butterflies!  They are everywhere!

Painted Lady


  1. Hello, Chris! I enjoy your birding reports and outings. Beautiful birds, bee and blooms. Enjoy the rest of your week!

  2. Wonderful photos - especially love all the insect photos - such colourful butterflies :)

  3. What a wonderful birding excursion! I loved all the insects, butterflies and birds. I always wanted to see a Trogon, but we didn't. Buy some clear nail polish...it will kill the chiggers! Hope you have a great week.


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