Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Secret Agent Man

Gordon scans one of the many watering holes in our waterbird count
I have left the birding open to....whatever.  This year, unless it's a new state bird, I've decided to only bird within Pima County.  It's less gas and less stress and less MONEY!  

a random Northern Pintail shows up on one of my counts
 I've also taken up the challenge to ebird at least once a day.  So wherever I am, I have to make the time to stop and look at birds.  

One of our watering holes in Phoenix had lots of cool Black Vultures flying around
 These past two weekends have been fun.  Last weekend, I went with my friend Gordon to count waterbirds in the urban spaces around the Phoenix area.  I think most of the places we went to count birds were at golf courses. 

Good form!  Personally I think golf is boring but I do like their ponds that they have around the areas
 During our count this year, we noticed stable numbers of certain bird species around the area.  And we also noticed lower numbers in other species like the American Wigeon population.  I also noticed that certain golf courses had less waterfowl when compared to the ones who didn't treat their ponds. Overall, I found that our waterfowl numbers were lower this year. 

American Coot
 I don't know if I would do that count alone as it could get kind of boring counting wigeons after awhile. That's why I wanted to help Gordon.  He does an excellent job monitoring his section of the count.  And it's more fun when we bird together. I always enjoy spending time with him. Plus when we both count, we get the work done faster. 

Ring-necked Duck
In other news, I have a million projects to get done before the summer heat hits us again.  I'm working on the second hummingbird garden in the courtyard.  This well will contain the shade friendly Turk's Cap which is popular with our Anna's Hummingbirds.  

 Meanwhile, I've been researching the birds of Britain before our trek in March and look forward to the new challenges. In other areas, we've secured several photo shoots in other states and are continuing to work on others.  There's one tricky bird that I'm hoping we'll be able to secure for April's trek, but we'll see.  A LOT of planning is going on right now.  In May, Ms. Brown and myself have secured a spot on a chartered vessel out to Machias Island for breeding ocean birds off the coast of Maine. 

Every year I do an in depth winter count at my local patch. I've just completed my annual winter count for Reid Park which requires half of a day and a trek inside the zoo for a more accurate count of birds inside the park boundaries. The zoo seems to be going through a Chinese phase right now and was filled up with Asian decor. 

Sharp-shinned Hawk
I had an up close and personal encounter with a Boat-billed Heron in the South American aviary which was fun.  I check ALL the aviaries inside the zoo for trapped wild birds.  A weird thing has happened this year to our large Great-tailed Grackle population in the Reid Park area.  Normally, there are hundreds of these birds at sunset flying around the zoo.  But for the past several months, there hasn't been a single one....until a few days ago.  I found one trapped inside the aviary with lots of House Sparrows. 

I've been having fun chasing birds ONLY within the Pima County line.  No I'm not doing a silly big year.  Just challenging myself to look a little harder and zone in my detective skills on harder birds within a confined space. It requires some skill! Pima County is quite beautiful and is home to rare populations of some unique US species like the Rufous-capped Warblers and Black-capped Gnatcatchers. 

I had a very personal up close interaction with this Northern Beardless Tyrannulet(above). This is one species of bird that I can communicate with well.  I know its voice and often can get the bird to come closer by pishing it out of the branches. 

Rufous-capped Warbler
 The Rufous-capped Warbler, however, is a species that can give me headaches.  Every year, it takes me time to locate these birds and I really have to listen to find this smaller population of birds. Plus they are super tricky to capture on camera.  The reliable location for this very popular bird is in an area that I don't like very much.  There's an okay trail that takes birders up in elevation across several streams to a dam.  The dam is my issue.  Every year I almost fall because I'm a clutz. These warblers hang out ABOVE the dam which really requires a walking stick for balance(especially with my heavy camera), but every year I forget to bring one with me! This year I only tripped a few times.  Florida Canyon is a beautiful location full of incredible birds BUT go with a friend or walking stick.  And be careful in the summer.  Too hot!  That's why many of us go in winter when the temps make this trail a breeze.  Literally.

I've been working on TWO home projects.  One is to reduce the crap we have in the house and free up space.  And two is the addition of our catio(patio for cats).  It has been a hit.  I feel safe. We have an extra room for storage.  The cats can take naps out there.  Phase 1 was securing the gate with 2 locks.  Phase 2 was cleaning out that nasty closet full of garden tools.  Phase 3 is painting.  Phase 4 is moving bulky furniture pieces into that closet for storage. Phase 5 is the fun decoration part. I'm at Phase 3 right now.

For now we rest.  It's good to take a break.  Until next time......


  1. I am glad you are not madly chasing birds all over the place but being more sensible in your birding habits. You wil enjoy birds much more this way and learn something in the process. Is that your wife in the last shot? A beautiful image

    1. No. My hubby:)It has been a lot of fun staying closer to home. And it's a bit challenging!

  2. Hello, beautiful birds and photos. I love the Rufous-capped Warbler. Your up coming trips sound awesome. It will be nice when you and Kathie are birding in Maine. Your cat patio does sound nice. Happy Birding. Have a happy day!

  3. You have been busy birding and with home projects and you have some exciting holidays soon. So many lovely photos in your post :)

    1. Thank you:) Hope you are having a wonderful week:) Chris

  4. It sounds like you will be busy for quite a while, so be sure to take lots of naps! Your birds are gorgeous. I have no doubt that you can find some new and interesting ones close to home. Just keep looking!!

    1. I LOVE naps! Every week there is something fun to chase around here. Thank you!

  5. Unas fotos espectaculares, enhorabuena!!!

  6. I think local birding is great - but I would say that, I don't really rush off to see rarities! We have a cat run attached to our house and the cats love it - in fact one is sat out there now with the wind in her whiskers!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  7. I love your vulture shot! I saw a boat-billed Heron in Belize. And we're going back to Belize next year. Can't wait to see birds there. It's more fun birding in paradise. I hope your cats enjoy some fun birding out on their new porch. Thanks for visiting!


Thanks for stopping by!