Thursday, March 15, 2018

¡Qué Locura!

A Raccoon is exposed!
These past few weeks have been a crazy time for me.  I've been out with family, friends and clients while trying to maintain my sanity at work.  And I found myself too tired to write. 

Twilight at Columbus Park in Tucson
My only personal birding happened after work for several days along the Santa Cruz river corridor in Tucson with the hope that I would spot at least one Common Black Hawk for my Pima County list. They are coming through the area right now in good numbers. Best time to see them is in the morning and late afternoon when they take off/land. No luck yet but I still hold hope. 


Meanwhile they did their yearly burn at the Sweetwater Wetlands. After the burn, it's an excellent time to spot birds like the Virginia Rail or Sora. And maybe a racoon. Or two. Or three....:)

And honestly.  I have been more into the hiking around our mountains.  It isn't uncommon to do a 5 or 10 mile hike on the weekend.  The views are stunning!

Viewing the beautiful riparian area of Madera Canyon from the trails above
So while out on some of those trails, I did some guiding for people looking for some rare birds.  I've seen the birds many times below, but my guests have not so it was all about them getting the nice shots.  And that's how it has been for me.  It's more about the search lately and not about getting the best pic.

Rare birds are everywhere.  You just need to know where to look.  Left to Right, Cassin's Finch, Painted Redstart, Elegant Trogon, Rufous Hummingbird, Steller's Jay, Rufous-backed Robin, Sinaloa Wren, Lincoln's Sparrow, juvenile Bald Eagle
I enjoy seeing the smiles as they discover their first lifers.

A vocal Canyon Wren

At another level, I'm planning for a very tricky adventure in a few days.  Normally chasing birds isn't too difficult on your own, but there are a few locations around the world that require me to be careful and hire help. 

Pied-billed Grebe
I look forward to the challenges ahead.  It has turned out to be a year of unexpected surprises.  While it has been "slow" for the state list, it has been, so far, a solid regular year for visitors to find some of Arizona's specialty birds.

Snow Goose
I monitor parks, hawk migration, etc and I keep finding cool birds that are rare for those locations which has been exciting.

Red-tailed Hawk
My life has been changing.  My transition from education into the birding world has been flawless and maybe a little ahead of schedule.  I am ready to be a full time guide but I can't. Not yet. The early days of birding were so much fun.  While birding is still fun, it has turned into theory and detective work which ultimately has changed the free spirited nature of the activity. To stay on top of my game and help others, I have to research out in the field.  And some birds I know better than others.

Broad-billed Hummingbird
I find that I am exhausted much of the time by living two completely different lives. Mondays are my worst days because I don't recharge on Sunday like I should.  I feel the most alive when I am on the trails.  Then when I'm in the real world, I feel like a robot living a life of routine.  Maybe that's what has kept me grounded.

Mexican Jay
Either way, it's not a complaint. Today, so many options have unexpectedly opened up for me and I can say that I am now ready to "be the change I wish to see in this world." It has, however, taken me several years to get to this point in my life.

Wild Turkey
I continue monitoring and researching critically endangered birds around the world.  Some are making a comeback.  Others are not.  This weekend, I found out that the White-backed Vulture below used in a raptor education program at the Arizona Renaissance Faire is needed for an important breeding program in the US. Their numbers in the wild have plummeted this year to alarming numbers.  Seeing a wild bird is an incredible thing.  To see it at a show in an educational setting is cool, but it's not the same thing.  And to know that a rescued bird in this educational setting was recalled back for an emergency repopulation attempt makes me sad. The good news is that this vulture has successfully nested with his mate this year.

White-backed Vulture taken back in 2013
Finally, this week, I had a smile.  Apparently I have been sharing a lot of my anger towards vaping and drugs on campus.  Several students put this poster together and gave me a smile.  Maybe they are listening.  I hope they are listening. I may be hard on them, but I want what's best for them because I care.

What is Juuling?  It's another way of vaping nicotine or marijuana.
I'll be on the road this Friday and will hopefully have some exciting news for you all when I get back from my trip.  There is a certain sparrow I am looking for....and it's endangered. Until next time.....


  1. If there is one must see place that you would say "don't miss for great birding in AZ", what would it be, I am heading that direction. Hope you bag your sparrow.

    1. Hello Sondra!!! WHat??!!! Are you here now? Oh my! Madera Canyon my friend. That's the first place that comes to my head. You'll love it!

  2. So happy for you to have these opportunities.
    This wild turkey from close is really something!

    1. Thanks Therese! Aren't they pretty when you look closer at their detail?

  3. Super post and photos Chris - good luck as you pursue a possible new career. Exciting times ahead for you I hope although it must be difficult in the short term. Look forward to hearing about your trip :)

    1. Thank you:) I get so stressed before the trip. It's a little like gambling I suspect. You put money into the project and hope for the best:)

  4. Hi Chris. I like the poster, and your bird images just get better and better! I've been away for a while, so have missed your blog. I hope that all is well with you, and wish you all the best in this guiding venture.

    With best wishes to you and Micheal - - - Richard


    1. Thank you Richard! Everything is going well. Now getting ready for another journey up North next weekend. It's never ending. March and April have been busy here. Hope you are doing well as well! Chris


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