Friday, September 4, 2015

Birding Huachuca Canyon

Next on my "Great Day Birding" in Huachuca Canyon, the Brown Creeper.

I've seen Brown Creepers over the years. They aren't abundant, they are solitary. And they live pretty much in old mature wood forests. They fly to the base of an old tree and zigzag up the trunk looking for insects in the bark. (Always up the tree, seldom if ever down).

Because of their camouflage it is difficult to find them unless you see them flying to a tree. And because of their small size and camouflage photographing them is a challenge.

In order to get a good photo you really need to get a side view which means moving around and potentially scaring them off.

So I have been looking for them this summer hoping to get that "perfect" photo. And the news is that while in Huachuca Canyon I came close:

Brown Creeper
As you can see, not a great photo. I needed to move away and to the side without disturbing him:

Brown Creeper
Much Better!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Great Day Birding

So what constitutes a "Great Day Birding?" For me it is a wide variety of birds, flocks that make it difficult to know what to photograph first, some close ups, and last but certainly (not for me) the least, very good detailed photos.

Where do you go to have a "Great Day Birding?" Well, of course this is Southern Arizona so there are many places to go. I have raved about Mount Lemmon so many times. But yesterday, one of my favorite places in the Southern Mountains: Huachuca Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains.

There's been a Sinaloa Wren that frequents the stream bed near the picnic areas just as you enter on the dirt road. But I usually start 1.7 miles up the canyon and look for the Sinaloa Wren on my return. But, yesterday the birding was so good up canyon that I didn't have time to stop and look for the Wren.

Okay, so what did I find? Well, I'll make several posts of the next couple of days with photos, but I'll start with, none other than the Elegant Trogon. I got my first really good look and photo of a Juvenile Elegant Trogon as well as an adult Male. Here are the photos:

Juvenile Elegant Trogon from behind

Adult Elegant Trogon from behind

Adult Elegant Trogon from the front

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Yellow Billed Cuckoo!

I have wanted to photograph a Yellow Billed Cuckoo for all 13 years we've live here in Southern Arizona. 

The YBC is listed as endangered in the west with populations only of fraction of what they were a hundred years ago. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has designated areas of Southern Arizona as critical habitat for them. 

Over the past 13 years I've gone out looking for them many times; often after reading about a sighting. They are migratory birds that enter the US during our summer, then migrate as far south as Argentina (to enjoy their summer).

Yesterday, I went looking again. I arrived at Empire Gulch in the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area just after dawn. However, the gulch had been severely flooded and there was still mud up to my ankles. It was impossible to get into the gulch. Hugely disappointed, I decided to check out the area above the gulch, behind the old bunkhouses. Although the "Nature Trail" had all but disappeared under thick new growth I "bushwacked" my way though and got to some extremely large cottonwood trees. The area was quite birdie: yellow breasted chat, warbling vireo, black headed grosbeak, cardinals, hepatic and western tanagers to name a few I spotted and/or photographed.

I was standing (still) under one of those cottonwoods photographing a female Hepatic Tanager when to my surprise a Yellow Billed Cuckoo flew into a small tree directly in front of me. Although he was partially covered I was very close and was able to get some nice photos. I wanted to get a full frontal photo but was afraid to move for fear of causing the YBC to fly away. So after a few photos, I just stood and admired him.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Today's photo is not of a particularly rare bird. Although only found in the southwest, the Verdin is fairly common. We see them everyday here at our Bed and Breakfast. So I have lots of photos. But sometimes whether it is the composition or the detail a photo is memorable. Sometimes both. Yesterday I went over to Sweetwater Wetlands and came home with one of those photos. Here it is, the Verdin:

It's a young male Verdin

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Rock Corral Canyon, Tumacacori Mountains

Since I had success (and fun) a couple weeks ago going into the Tumacacori Mountains, I thought I'd do it again. 

And, again lots of fun ... lots of birds.

Here's a sample:

Summer Tanager Female

Blue Grosbeak Male singing away

Lark Bunting Male who was being pursued by four Females

Hooded Oriole Male gathering food for his Chick

Hooded Oriole Chick waiting patiently for food from his Dad

Curved Bill Thrasher and Broad Bille Hummingbird wanting to feed from the Century Plant.

Very nicely detail Roadrunner
Other birds included: Gray Hawk, Lark Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Black Throated Sparrow,  Northern Cardinals -- male and female, Lesser Goldfinches, Western and Cassin's Kingbirds to name a few.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Finally Success: Male Olive Warbler

I have posted several times over the past month about my trips up Mount Lemmon in Tucson, Arizona looking for Warblers in general and a Male Olive Warbler in particular. I'm guessing 30-40 hours in total.

Olive Warblers are only found in parts of Southeast Arizona, Southwest New Mexico, and the extreme Southwestern part of Texas. And only at or above 7000 feet. On top of that they like the tops of very tall pine trees. That means they are usually 60-80 feet off the ground. 

Complicating matters more, female Hermit Warblers are often mistaken for female Olive Warblers. As a general rule, I assume Hermit Warbler unless it is a male. The male is unmistakeable with its rich butterscotch head, face and throat. Then the dark mask over the eyes is convincing.

But back to my story. This last trip on Thursday I came home not realizing that I had actually found and photographed a male Olive. Now you might ask how that is possible, but again a five inch bird  60-80 feet off the ground and buried in pine needles. I remember the place, it was above the parking lot for Mount Bigelow Trail -- not on the trail itself. This is the area just above Incinerator Ridge. The bird was a mere silhouette to me at the time, so I didn't know what it was.

It wasn't until I got home and sorted through 500 photos that I came across the following Olive Warbler photos;

would have been perfect if in focus

Success at last. And an exciting day.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hiking around Flagstaff

Christine and I got away on Sunday for a quick trip up to Flagstaff to see our Grandson Noah in a production of Les Miserables. 

Since we got there a bit ahead of time I took a short hike into Buffalo Park. There I found 6 Mule Deer Bucks and got to spend several minutes with them photographing. Here are a few of the photos:

Mule Deer 

Mule Deer

Mule Deer

Northern Flicker

Western Bluebird