Tuesday, November 7, 2017

No Day But Today

Vermilion Flycatcher during one of my weekly surveys at Reid Park in Tucson, AZ

"The heart may freeze or it can burn
  The pain will ease if I can learn

  There is no future
  There is no past
  I live each moment as my last 

  There's only us
  There's only this
  Forget regret-or life is yours to miss

  No other road
  No other way
  No day but today!"-Rent

Another routine check at El Río Preserve in Marana, reveals a mile long string of Yellow-headed Blackbirds passing by the moon at sunset

On the trails this week, I did a little bit of tactical, studied and artistic birding.  It was a crazy week full of super early mornings, even by a birder's standards.

a Scaled Quail at Cochise Lake

We came back from Colorado and stopped at the beautiful Cochise Lake in Willcox, AZ.  This was my artistic birding. We had to prioritize our stops. So we skimmed through New Mexico in order to watch the beautiful sunset over Cochise Lake.

a Javelina feeds from the grasses of the golf course at Willcox

It was so peaceful and beautiful.  As the sun went down, several hundred Sandhill Cranes flew above our heads.

Sandhill Cranes at sunset
That is the true art of birding. It was a magical way to end our day.

Greater White-fronted Geese at Willcox
Days would follow and it would be time for studied birding.  Studied birding is my way of doing regular visits to local hotspots and recording important information. This year I have chosen Reid Park and several other hotspots to do my weekly counts to better understand bird patterns.

juvenile male Rose-breasted Grosbeak
On this day, I went to the Santa Rita Lodge and sat with out-of-town birders helping them ID unusual birds.  Sometimes, I just throw myself into the mix.  They don't know who I am and I don't know who they are.  But it's the most natural way of meeting good people.  I spent my morning helping these birders ID female hummingbirds(which can be tricky).

Rufous-winged Sparrow
I also studied several lower elevation birds that weren't supposed to be at the feeders.  Across the map, we are noticing birds moving up in elevation due to global change.  Take for example the Rufous-winged Sparrow ^(a Southern Arizona favorite) and the Lark Sparrow below.  Both of these birds should be found at the lower elevations of the Santa Rita Mountain range.  But here they were.

Lark Sparrow
Then there's tactical birding.  Tactical birding can be interesting.  Or it can be terrible.  A Wood Thrush was reported in a very remote and unlikely place in our state.  I needed this bird for the state AND I also needed better views of this bird.  I've only heard these birds calling from the dark areas of the woods in Maine and in Wisconsin. 

I didn't want to drive nearly 2 hours to this place called Dateland.  But any chance to get better views of a bird that I had only heard in my life was worth the trek.  We gambled and were rewarded with stunning views of this normally secretive thrush.

Wood Thrush
People have asked me how I balance it all out.  It's tricky but I make the time.  Just like people make time to exercise, etc., I make sure I put in the time for my birds. So many birders have said, "You can rest when your dead." And they're right. There's work.  There's home.  There's family and friends.  And there's birding:) 

Until next time.....


  1. Not only true art birding but true art pictures too!

  2. Stunning photos Chris and a very beautiful poem with such wise advice :)

  3. Wonderful birds .. So beautiful.. Cheers

  4. Wonderful post! Loved the shot of the bird on the golf cart! And if you are doing a count, the rose-breasted grosbeak says he's number 3. :-) Beautiful photos as always. I love Reid Park. When we lived in Tucson I discovered the Vermilion Flycatcher and it will always be one of my absolute favorites.

  5. Great thought-provoking poetry, Chris. Great birds, too! That Vermillion Flycatcher is amazing.

    Best wishes to you both - - Richard

    1. Thanks Richard! How are you doing? Best wishes to you as well!

  6. Enjoyed this Chris! Birding does take some of the sting out of our current political crisis! Carol Sykes

    1. Thanks Carol:) It boggles my mind how they can let a pig run office especially after all the sex harassment cases. He's gross and um, there's audio of him saying terrible things. Yet everyone else goes to jail. And that's just the tip of the iceberg with that one. He'll get his. Anyhow, birding does cut the negative energy:)


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