Tuesday, February 13, 2018

For The Journeys Ahead

Northern Harrier
Sometimes we wait in a holding pattern.  But it's the anticipation of the next big adventure that excites the imagination. 

The Knob Hill Fire burns in the Dragoon Mountains
In the meantime, I scout areas and collect data for several birders who will be coming to Southern Arizona for their own adventures.  They too are excited about finding new birds to add to their life lists. It's a job I take seriously.  

Sandhill Crane comes in for a landing. 
The winter months are the only times we are able to observe certain birds.  Every year, I head down to Willcox and Cochise Lake to be among the Sandhill Cranes.  Everyone says to go to the Whitewater Draw.  I love it there too, but it's not the same as Willcox.  If you are a photographer, you head to Willcox.  The birds fly right over your head and land just a few feet away.  It's pretty spiritual. 

Our wildfire season is early this year.  Fire started this weekend on private property and spread over 2 thousand acres on the Dragoon Mountains. While observing the cranes, we watched the fire spread over a section of the mountain.  

Another fun challenge was finding ONE Eurasian Wigeon in the near thousand population of American Wigeons. 

American Wigeons
Can you find the bird?:)

A Eurasian Wigeon
I have written this before and I'll write it again.  I wish I could bird in this weather all the time. It was comfortable.  

On my weekly observation at Reid Park in Tucson, I watched our beautiful wintering Zone-tailed Hawk take flight and stay in the air for nearly 2 hours!  Often it flew right over my head looking for prey. Other times it looked like it just wanted to fly for enjoyment. 

Zone-tailed Hawk
During one moment, I thought the bird had lost its head. 

However, the hawk was just preening.  This is the second observation that I've seen of this species preening in flight. This bird is an acrobat!

On another outing during the week day, I just wanted to bird in a different location.  So I went to Agua Caliente Park for an evening count. 

Agua Caliente Park
I hadn't researched this location.  I just wanted to bird.  Birding keeps my skills sharp for the people who rely on me to find their birds.  Maybe you've noticed this about yourself with certain species of birds?  I tend to glance over some species while with others, I look at more closely.  Such is the case with sparrows. My gaze lingers a little longer with these bubbly happy-go-lucky birds. 

a beautiful Swamp Sparrow
I enjoy sparrows.  I don't know why. Most people don't get into these birds but I could spend hours watching them hop around bushes.  During that evening, there were a couple Lincoln's Sparrows in the area and I was enjoying their fine plumage design when I noticed this Swamp Sparrow(above and below) next to them!  Wow!  It's a rare bird for Pima County in the winter, but it was a most welcome sight!

We went on other adventures, mostly for the walk.  I just needed to bird pretty spaces after those past couple weekends of gross agricultural habitat.  It was really really nice. 

We take a lovely stroll in Ramsey Canyon of the Huachuca Mountains
While up on Mt. Lemmon, I met two people who signed up for our trip with Tucson Audubon to the Huachucas in August.  I had a blast getting to know them and we had a great time finding birds. It was fun hearing their excitement as I got them on great birds. My reports are below. 

Northern Flicker
This year's theme is all about family and friends in other places.  I am working on one trip now and looking forward to the challenges ahead.  While I wait, I will continue to count birds around the state.  I try to balance it all out. People in my life will sometimes say, "I wish I could travel like you do."  A lot of them could, but often it seems like it's outside of their personal comfort zones. I've just made it a personal mandate.  I've earned it.  There's no looking back.  Only forward.  You only get one life.  Own it and find happiness.  Until next time.....

For Agua Caliente Park, click here
For Willcox Lake, click here
For Mt. Lemmon, click here
For Reid Park, click here

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