Saturday, September 26, 2015

Happy Together: Common Gallinule, Red Eared Turtle, and Pied Billed Grebe

So you go out looking for one thing  and find three things all in one frame -- Happy Together. Not what I was looking for, but a nice find and a nice photo anyway:

Common Gallinule, Red Eared Turtle, Pied Billed Grebe

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mount Lemmon Yet Again

Note:  Yesterday, someone from Botswana visited our Blog.  Botswana is just one of 18 countries in Africa that visit our site; a total of 124 countries around the world. And, even though there is so much "unrest,"  in the world, sometimes someone from Israel and someone from Iraq, or someone from China and someone from Taiwan, visit our Blog on the same day - maybe even the same time.  There is one thing people around the world have in common: a love of nature. 

On to today's post:

I wanted to take one more pass up Mount Lemmon before the migrants leave to see if I could get a better MacGillivray's Warbler photo, but I may not have made it in time.

As usual, I did get some nice photos even though none were that little warbler I wanted:

Cliff Chipmunk eating a nut.

Lesser Goldfinch among the wildflowers

Red Shafted Northern Flicker

Short Tailed Hawk

Townsend's Warbler

Western Bluebird

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Zone Tailed Hawk

Monday, September 21, 2015

Huachuca Canyon Yet Again

Trying to get one more trip to Huachuca Canyon before all the migrants head south, I was hoping to find my "better photo" of a MacGillivray's. Seems like I've been in the wrong place at the wrong time this year for that little guy. Or even the right place but the wrong time.

Yet again, I did come back with a few nice photos:

Black Throated Gray Warbler about to snag a meal.

Hermit Warbler

Orange Crowned Warbler just finishing a meal

Painted Redstart posing for a photo

Summer Tanager

Townsend's Warbler with meal

Townsend's Warbler up close

Wilson's Warbler

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pena Blanca Lake - Part VI

Lastly, the Kingbirds.

Here is a Western Kingbird photographed from Pena Blanca Lake:

Western Kingbird
Then, I'm not an expert on Thick Billed Kingbirds, but got a photo of what appears to be a Thick Billed:

Thick Billed Kingbird?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pena Blanca Lake - Part V

As you might imagine, I've photographed Great Blue Herons all over the US and Canada. In fact, in the Northwest, they are very common and not hard to find dozens -- if not hundreds at times. (Yes!)

But they make for wonderful photographs. And on our trip to Pena Blanca Lake we found one begging for a photo:

Great Blue Heron

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Pena Blanca Lake - Part IV

Three lovely Yellow Warblers showed off just in front of us. I had to decide which one to photograph. I'm pleased with the result:

Yellow Warbler

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Pena Blanca Lake - Part III

There were several Green Herons, both juvenile and adult. Seems like we kept flushing them out. But did quietly get some nice photos including this one in a nearby tree:

Green Heron

Friday, September 11, 2015

More from Pena Blanca Lake

As I mentioned we didn't find the Green Kingfisher, but did find a nice Belted Kingfisher who allowed me some nice photos:

Belted Kingfisher

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pena Blanca Lake -- Outstanding Birding Spot

Christine and I headed down to Pena Blanca Lake early yesterday morning in search of the Green Kingfisher.

Pena Blanca Lake is about ten miles from the US/Mexico border near Nogales. It is a beautiful lake (even if man-made). And it was quite "birdie". At times  hard to decide what bird to photograph.

We didn't see the Green Kingfisher but did see and get nice photos of a Green Heron and a Belted Kingfisher plus the even rarer Yellow-green Vireo. Other good birds included:

Blue Grosbeak
Varied Bunting
Summer Tanager
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Wilson's Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Warbling Vireo
Bewicks Wren
Marsh Wren

I'll show off the Yellow-green Vireo today, with some of the others over the next couple of days:

Yellow-green Vireo

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sinaloa Wren

The Sinaloa Wren is a very rare visitor from Mexico to the United States. There was a confirmed report from the Patagonia Sonoita Creek Preserve in 2008 and again in 2009. But then not again from that location.

In the past three years two new locations have been reported:  1) Huachuca Canyon and 2) along the Juan Bautista de Anza trail between Tubac and Tumacacori. In each case the Sinaloa Wren doesn't wander far from the reported location and remains for months at a time. 

I have tried to find this little wren many times -- both at the de Anza Trail site and the Huachuca Canyon site. I have spent quite a lot of time in Huachuca Canyon. And, I am embarrassed by the fact that I had pretty much given up finding it, spending less and less time looking on each trip into the canyon.

On Sunday after the visit to Lake Cochise and the Black Bellied Plover, I went to Huachuca Canyon looking for the MacGillivray's Warbler. (I have photographed this little warbler before but am looking to get a better photo).

As I arrived at the entrance to Huachuca Canyon I found the gate closed which meant I could not get up the canyon to where I wanted. Since the Sinaloa Wren location was only about 250 yards from the gate I thought I'd give it a try while waiting to see if the gate would open.

And wouldn't you know, there was the Sinaloa Wren. Of all the times I went looking for it and didn't find it, the one time I actually didn't go with the intention of looking for it, I found it.

It was constantly moving around usually deep inside bushes. I took many photos nearly all of which were either out-of-focus or just the tail, the head, the back etc.

I am happy that I came away with a photo that provides a "Positive ID" -- the black and white streaks on the cheeks and neck:

Sinaloa Wren

Now I have renewed interest in looking again and getting a better photo. When is the earliest I can get away to Huachuca Canyon?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Black Bellied Plover

From a Bed and Breakfast point of view, I am trying to take advantage of the off-season before our busy season begins by taking wildlife photo trips as much as possible -- the "calm before the storm" perspective. However, it is Southern Arizona's Monsoon Season, so I am also limited to Mother Nature's "calm" between her "storms." 

I posted 10 days ago the difficulty in getting into Empire Gulch at Las Cienegas because of the flooding. I was thrilled with my photograph of a Yellow Billed Cuckoo. But it came at a price. The price was over 100 chigger bites on my legs (which are only now beginning to heal). 

Yesterday, I thought I'd go to Lake Cochise in Willcox, which is 75 miles east of Tucson. Just about every water bird that lands in Southern Arizona has at one time or another stopped at Lake Cochise. Since there was a report of two Black Bellied Plovers at Lake Cochise on Friday, I thought I'd give it a try. 

The Black Bellied Plover summers along the arctic coastlines throughout the world  (Alaska, Canada, Russia etc). They winter along the coastlines several thousand miles south. In North America, they winter along the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts. They are rarely found inland. Yet, here were two reported sightings in Southern Arizona.  

I assumed that the plovers came from Alaska, headed to the Gulf Coast and were forced to the ground by our storms. If that thinking was correct, surely they would take to the air as soon as possible to continue their migration.

On my drive to Lake Cochise I thought about the realistic chances of seeing and photographing one of these two Black Bellied Plovers. In addition to the urgency of their migration, I considered, given that Lake Cochise now has several thousand shorebirds, the likelihood of finding one of two plovers among thousands of other shorebirds.

The following quote from Darryl Zero (The Zero Effect) comes to mind:

"Now, a few words on looking for things. When you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you're only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you're sure to find some of them."

Many times I have gone looking for one thing, and found something else instead that I was quite pleased with. So, on whole, this isn't a bad thing.

But occasionally, as it was yesterday, I did find what I went looking for. In this case the Black Bellied Plover:

Black Bellied Plover

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Birding Huachuca Canyon, continued

It's warbler time, and in addition to Mount Lemmon, Huachuca Canyon is an excellent spot. I went hoping to find and get a "great" photo of a MacGillivray's Warbler. I have seen and photographed them before in several places but really needed that "perfect" photo. And while I did not see a MacGillivray's -- thought I did once, but it turn out to be a Nashville -- I did find six different Warbler species:

Painted Redstart with "catch"

Nashville Warbler with "catch"

Townsend's Warbler
Hermit Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Black Throated Gray Warbler

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