Thursday, February 4, 2010

Big January 2010 Photo Essay

Great-horned Owl, Corona de Tucson 1-25-10

Big January 2010 Started off with a big problem for me when my computer crashed. Between computer problems, family visits, illness, my son's ankle surgery and babysitting for my grandson I squeezed in as many days of birding as I could. These photos are the compilation of some of the birds I saw this month. I hoped for a big finish, but the last 2 days of the month were very busy. On Saturday Gus and I drove to Phoenix to see a performance of Riverdance, a Christmas gift from my oldest son and his wife. It was a matinee performance and after the show we drove a short distance to the Rio Salado Project on the banks of the Salt River.

We saw ducks and coots in the demonstration wetlands near the parking lot and wandered the trail down to the river. Evidence of the recent flooding was everywhere with debris piled up on the banks and in the treetops. Still, the birds sang and we saw orange-crowned and yellow-rumped warblers, ducks and cormorants, towhees, hummingbirds and a kestrel. We watched the sunset as Gus took pictures and I watched birds through my bins. Though we saw a lot of birds, I didn't see anything new to add to my 2010 Big January List.

It wasn't until last night that Gus off-loaded his photos. He cropped and enlarged and enhanced them all. He made a little slide show to show me. As the pictures faded from one to another a photo of a little bird camera on the screen. A bird I did not see, but he did. A bird so wonderful, it made me start an ebird account for him, since I cannot count this bird because I didn't see it for myself. I saw this species for the very first time last spring in West Virginia at the New River Birding Festival. What was it doing here in the wintertime on the banks of the Salt River in Phoenix? But the pictures don't lie and I am sooooooo jealous! Gus photographed...the bird that got away! Do you want to see it? It's at the bottom of this post. For now, scroll down and enjoy the show. And remember, all photos click to enlarge. The rest of the story and the final tally are at the end.

Song sparrow 1-4-10 Sweetwater Wetlands

Black Phoebe 1-4-10 Sweetwater Wetlands

Sora 1-4-10 Sweetwater Wetlands

Great Blue Heron 1-4-10 Sweetwater Wetlands

Juvenile Black-crowned Night heron 1-4-10
Sweetwater wetlands

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet 1-4-10
Sweetwater Wetlands

White Vermillion flycatcher 1-4-10
Sweetwater Wetlands

Painted Redstart 1-13-10 Madera Canyon

Hermit thrush 1-13-10
Madera Canyon

Mexican Jay 1-13-10
Madera Canyon

Bridled titmouse 1-13-10
Madera Canyon

White-breasted nuthatch 1-13-10
Madera Canyon

Dinosaur bird?
No. Wild turkey 1-13-10
Madera Canyon

Yellow-eyed junco and Oregon Junco 1-13-10
Madera Canyon

Acorn woodpecker 1-13-10
Madera Canyon

Loggerhead shrike 1-15-10
Whitewater Draw

Eastern Meadowlark 1-15-10
Whitewater Draw

Sandhill Cranes 1-15-10
Whitewater Draw

Snow Geese 1-15-10
Whitewater Draw

Cooper's hawk 1-23-10
Sycamore Canyon

Roadrunner and Lark Bunting in Sycamore Canyon 1-27-10

Northern Cardinal 1-28-10
Sycamore Canyon

Scaled Quail 1-29-10
Sycamore Canyon

Long-billed dowitchers 1-29-10 Rio Rico

Double-crested Cormorants 1-30-10
Rio Salado Project, Phoenix, AZ
(photo by Gusto!)

Black and White warbler 1-30-10
Seen and Photographed by Gus only!
This is the one that got away!
I can't believe I missed this bird!

You know, I am always chiding Gus because he likes to photograph the big birds like herons, ducks and egrets. I am always telling him I need to see more of the little birds, that they are the ones I am interested in. Well, believe it or not, he tried to tell me about this one but I mistakenly thought he was looking at just another yellow-rumped warbler. I am the one who said, "we have already seen those, lets move on." I could have had this bird, but I didn't get to see it until I saw this photograph, so for me and my list, it doesn't count! However, Gus now has 17 species on his list.

So, on Sunday I was still stuck at 112 species and I had to watch my grandson again. No more bird watching for me. We drove to town, picked up Xavier, and stopped by the library to pick up my paintings from the art show. We drove towards home, stopping by the grocery store on the way. It was such a warm and sunny day and I so wanted to be outside, but we drove home with the car full of groceries and my sweet little boy in his carseat. On the way home I asked Gus to stop one last time at Sycamore Elementary School. I have stopped here numerous times over the course of the month looking for the Horned Larks I had seen and photographed here in December but everytime I stopped there were always people playing ball or children on the playground and no birds. The other times I stopped I saw sparrows, killdeer and cactus wrens, but no horned larks. This day the field was empty. I grabbed my bins and walked through the gate. I scanned the field to the sound of a cactus wren calling. At first I thought there was nothing, but then, in the far northeast corner a small flock of birds was feeding on the ground. I crept closer for a better look. For some reason they were all facing east with their backs to me. Turn and show me your faces! I thought to myself and then, one did, and I saw the yellow chest and the black feathered horns and I had them! I had species number 113-Horned larks!

That's it. That is my final species for the month. It was fun to play. Watching birds is fun anyday, and I really tried to remember that each bird is special. Each species is wonderful. For me, being outside is the best of all. Plus, I got to meet some new birders this time around. I would have to say that the White vermillion flycatcher and the scaled quail were the highlights of the month and for some reason, the quiet and gray day at Ried Park when I was pretty much alone with the ducks was a highlight, but then there was birding at Sweetwater, and whitewater draw, and that last day at Rio Salado with Gus, and...well, you get the idea, it was ALL good!

Snow Geese at Whitewater Draw 1-15-10


Anonymous said...

Well, you may like my single Sharp-shinned Hawk, and he is a pretty fella, though like a teenager and so young, he comes every day and I am able to watch him learn how to hunt and capture his meals. He has not been successful here but must be eating somewhere as he has not lost weight.

Your photos and the one Gus got are just fabulous pictures. It is like looking in a golden pot and seeing your future in little wrapped fortune cookies. You have so many pretty ones to look at that it is hard to decide which one looks the best and fits the best. To me they are all excellent photos and I would be proud to have them in my archives.

Thanks for your visits and generous comments.

KaHolly said...

Each and every photo is delightful, crisp and clear. What a fun adventure it was for you to work together on your January list.

Diane AZ said...

Fantastic photo essay! Amazing variety of birds seen just in January and it sounds like it was a busy month for you. The white vermilion flycatcher and scaled quail are among my favorite images.

Ruth said...

Congratulations on your excellent count! Your pictures are excellent. Some of the smaller birds are so hard to catch in the open. I really have to plan a birding trip south in the winter.

bobbie said...

So many truly beautiful photos! I do love the heron high on the metal framework. But your first photo, the owl, is fantastic. He looks to be a part of the tree.

sweetbay said...

Beautiful photos! We have Black-and-white Warblers come through our area during migrations and they are exquisite birds. The Yellow-Eyed Junco is wild! I love the Painted Redstart and Acorn Woodpecker too, although I agree that each one is special.

Hildred said...

I am completely awed, - what a pleasure to see and study your beautiful photographs.

abb said...

What incredible photographs! Love the cardinal against the white background, but that white vermillion flycatcher...every part of it is perfection - composition, the bird's cocked head the color of the sky...beautiful!

janet said...

Seriously fun to read about your birding adventures & then to see the great photographs...icing on a delicious cake! I feel bad for you that you missed the B&W Warbler...I get tired of checking through all the Yellow Rumps too...argh! On the 31st of January I tried one last time to get a Blue-winged Teal (had missed them at Sweetwater & the Gilbert Water Ranch) at the Rio Salado Project...& finally spotted a pair from the 7th ave. bridge looking east...such a happy moment! About a minute later they were startled & flew away with 3 Cinnamon Teal...but it was so cool to be observing the flying birds from above...the powder blue wing patches were so beautiful in flight...I'm going to have to become a photographer to capture some of those images for myself...:)

Birding is Fun! said...

Well done Kathie! My list was not nearly as long, but do I get a handicap for being in Idaho?! I love the photos!

Its Time to Live said...

As always, great post.
Please email me about Antelope Island

Gaelyn said...

Wow Kathie, that's a great count for January. I truly love to go birding with you. Your, and Gus', photos are always so clear.

Anonymous said...

Wow, so many cool birds. The white v. flycatcher was especially different for me to see as well as your yellow eyed junco. Your january was filled with diversity. I have fun taking pictures of the little birds that can't stop moving....which dart in all directions at once. They certainly do sharpen one's reflexes.

Happy Birding Kathie to you for February.

Kathie Brown said...

Abe, nice to see you again. It's always nice to stop by your blog and see who is hanging out in your yard!

KaHolly thanks for the visit. It's nice to meet you!

Diane, I agree. I also like the acorn woodpecker.

Ruth, yes you do!

bobbie, I think the owl and the heron both look like they are part of what they are perched on!

Sweet bay, I am glad you liked so many!

Hildred and Charles, welcome to my blog! Thanks for the comment!

TSannie, it was a breath-taking moment!

Janet, welcome to my blog! It sound like you are an avid birder too! I had never been to Rio Salado before and I have only been to Gilbert Water Ranch once. It's a long way to go up there but I hope to take another trip soon. There are so many good places to Bird in AZ. I could live here the rest of my life and never get to them all! Glad you finally got the teals!

Avimor, actually, I was thinking that we shold do this as a percentage of possible birds to be seen in each state at that time of year because I know I have a huge advantage living where I do. The trouble is, I am not a numbers person. Who could figure this out for us? We could take the birds seen from the eBird web site and then average in our totals. What do you think?

Its time to live, nice to see you on my blog again. I will shoot you an email later. I just logged off!

Gaelyn, come on down! You would be welcome! Perhaps I can finally come up there this summer and go birding with you! So much to do, so little time!

Natural moments, yes they do!

Dawn Fine said...

Congrats on your big did good...too bad about the black and white warbler..
You hubby takes awesome pics...

We are in Catalina state park until next wednesday when we leave for 14 days and camp at Gilbert Ray near the Sonoran Desert Museum.. then we come back for a few days before going to Patagonia for a few weeks and the BwBTC outing...

here is my email
Would love to far it looks like Tuesday would be the best day for us...
I also know this is late notice..but there is an awesome bird walk in the park at 8:30
Hope to see u either or both days...
Also when we are near Gilbert Ray You might want to join us at the Desert Museum..

CE Webster said...

Awesome pictures! And, it shows that you had a great January. Good Job!

Mary said...

wow..what a fantastic bunch of bird portraits! I love that owl at the beginning and many of these are birds I have never seen. Beautiful photographs!

Larry said...

Great job of compiling such a list in between everything else that was going on in your life.Super photographs! My favorite is the one of the Acorn Woodpecker. I don't get to see those and that is a great photo of one.Sorry I can't be a challenge to you any more.Even though I haven't been able to get your numbers, I do keep track of your total as a sort of carrot to dangle in front of me for motivation so its really fun to have you involved with the Big January. Maybe you can bring in another Arizona blogger in on it next year too.

ksdoolittle said...

Oh, my! What a wonderful photo essay. I should be so luck to see so many different species! Thank you for sharing. The photos are great!

eileeninmd said...

Wow, you had an impressive January count. A lot of the birds would be lifers for me. I would love to see the Acorn Woodie and a Sora. Great photos.

Quiet Paths said...

What a most amazing collection of photos. I am going to scroll through these many times!

Kcalpesh said...

Superb captures! This is a very interesting and impressive post!!

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