Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Nice Photos of an Olive Warbler

As I have mentioned, Olive Warblers are usually a challenge to photograph. They are found above 7,000 feet and typically only in Ponderosa Pines (occasionally firs). Plus, they are usually only in the very tops of those 120 foot pines.

But, last week I was at the right place at the right time and got some nice photos. (I'm including a Red Faced Warbler singing as well as a Warbling Vireo photo I took on the same trip).

Olive Warbler Singing

Olive Warbler

Red Faced Warbler Singing

Warbling Vireo

Monday, May 30, 2016

Northern Parula - Finally!

I suppose every birder has one or more birds that have alluded them over the years. As I have mentioned before, I am working on a book about Warblers of Arizona. One warbler, the Northern Parula is uncommon in Southern Arizona, getting about five individual birds a year. As you might imagine, trying to find one of five individual 4 and a half inch birds over twenty thousand square miles (Southern Arizona) is a daunting task. It is a little easier than I just said because it is reported both to the Audubon Rare Bird Alert and to the area's ABA Birding News. And when those reports come out you drop what you are doing and go directly to where it was reported.

Over the past couple of years I have made three trips to Tanque Verde Wash when it was reported there. I made four trips to the Santa Cruz River at Sasco Road when it was reported there. And, I made 8 trips to Sweetwater Wetlands when it was report there. All failing to find this little guy.

On one such visit to Sweetwater I met a birder from the Eastern US who asked what I was looking for. When I mentioned that a Northern Parula had been seen there he didn't seem impressed. Evidently he sees them often back home. (On the other hand, we see gila monsters and bobcats on our property so I guess we're even). 

On Wednesday (May 18th), Christine and I went to Sweetwater Wetlands. I was looking for a MacGillivray's Warbler (which I have seen in several places but don't have the quality photo I want). And, to my surprise -- and joy, a first of season Northern Parula appeared. He was foraging in the willows and cottonwoods next to one of the ponds. 

Here are some photos of that Northern Parula:

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Birding Incinerator Ridge, Mount Lemmon

After Rose Canyon Lake, Christine and I wanted to make a quick stop at Incinerator Ridge just to see what was going on there. As it turns out, it too was very birdie so we ended up spending the rest of our day there. Incinerator Ridge is famous for its Red Faced Warblers (again probably the most reliable place to find it). And, again he didn't disappoint. Painted Redstarts are often present (as they were this day). Yellow Rumped Warblers, Hermit Thrushes, Yellow Eyed Juncos, Mountain Chickadees, Spotted Towhees, Black Headed Grosbeaks, American Robins, Cliff Swallows, Ravens, an unidentified hawk ...

Here are a couple of the nicer photos:

Painted Redstart

Red Faced Warbler

Thursday, May 26, 2016

More from Rose Canyon Lake, Mount Lemmon

Other nice photos from Rose Canyon Lake on Mount Lemmon:

Blue Grey Gnatcatcher

House Wren

Olive Warbler

Pine Siskin

Plumbeous Vireo

Western Bluebird

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Buff Breasted Flycatcher at Rose Canyon Lake

Christine and I birded Mount Lemmon on Monday May 16th. We started at Rose Canyon Lake which was quite "birdie." One of the "prizes" here is the Buff Breasted Flycatcher. Although Sibley's says the BBF is mainly found in the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona, I have found Rose Canyon Lake on Mount Lemmon to be the most reliable place (at least over the last few years).

We were pleased not only to find this little guy (other than the even rarer Tufted Flycatcher, the Buff Breasted is the smallest flycatcher in North America).

And, not just happy to find, happy to find him posing in a variety of settings:

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Florida Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains

I went looking for the Black Capped Gnatcatcher for my website. Again my previous photos not up to my new standard. I struck out. However, I did find a few nice photos there:

Singing Northern Cardinal

Grey Hawk

Female Western Tanager

Male Western Tanager

Male Wester Tanager

Wilson's Warbler

White Tailed Deer

Friday, May 20, 2016

Empire Gulch -- next on the List

Empire Gulch is usually quite birdie given the spring that keeps water in the Gulch for about 200 yards. There were some nice finds to:

Hooded Skunk

Black Head Grosbeak Male

Summer Tanager Male

Western Tanager Female

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Stellar Jay at Incinerator Ridge

Another  reliable find at Incinerator Ridge is the Stellar Jay:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Incinerator Ridge, Mount Lemmon

After finding the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher at Molino Basin I thought I'd check out Incinerator Ridge -- just to see what was going on. And, of course, a main attraction is what I believe is the most reliable place to find the Red Faced Warbler. So here are those photos:

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

I have been working on a NEW website. The old one I developed ten years ago through Apple's iWeb software. Unfortunately, several years ago Apple decided not to support iWeb any longer. Yet it still worked okay. However, with the latest Apple Operating System (El Capitan) I can't update my site any longer. 

So, I have been using Weebly to create an entirely new site. And, now it is finished. If you would like to see it, just click on this link:  at www.exclusivelywildlifephotos.com

All this to say, I have been busy and haven't written a post for a week. So, let me catch up. As I was working on my new website, I realized that my Gnatcatcher photos weren't up to my new standard. So I set out for Molino Basin five miles up Mount Lemmon. This I believe is the most reliable spot for the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher. (I have seen them here at The Azure Gate. In fact, a few years ago a guest found a BGG in her nest near our Catalina Guest House).

As some thought process and luck had it, I was able to get some nice photos at Molino Basin. Here are a few of them: The Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher:

Monday, May 9, 2016

Great Day Birding Sabino Canyon

An early breakfast allowed me to get to Sabino Canyon by 9:30 am. I hiked up to the Dam (just a tad over a mile) and birded the 200 yards between the dam and the Sabino Creek crossing. Lots of bird song and activity. The surprise was a Yellow Breasted Chat, normally very secretive and more often heard than seen. I was off the trail in the middle of a mesquite bosque standing perfectly still when he came by. At first he was obscured by foliage, but remaining still I waited for a couple of minutes until he found an opening. Then "snap!"

Other nice finds: Male and Female Summer Tanager, and lovely cooperative Yellow Warbler. A Lucy's Warbler that just couldn't stop singing. Oh, and a young male Bullock's Oriole. Here are some photos:

Brown Crested Flycatcher

Brown Crested Flycatcher

Bullock's Oriole Juvenile

Cardinal Male

Lucy's Warbler Singing

Summer Tanager Female

Summer Tanager Male

Yellow Breasted Chat

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler Singing

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Grace's Warbler: Right Time, Right Place, and Lots of Luck

Little is known about Grace's Warbler other than it was first reported by Elliott Coues' in 1864. Elliott Coues was a well known naturalist and ornithologist who the small subspecies of White Tailed Deer, the Coues Deer is named after. Coues asked that the bird be named after his sister, Grace.

The summer breeding range of Grace's Warbler is mainly Arizona and Central Mexico, although it doesn't pay much attention to state borders so can sometimes be found in the extreme southern parts of Nevada, Utah, southwest Colorado, and western New Mexico where the elevation is 7000 feet and there are pine trees. It winters in Central America.

Even though its territorial requirements are very precise, little is known of the Grace's Warbler due to the fact that it stays atop 130 foot Ponderosa Pine trees. It's diet is presumed to be insects like other warblers, gleaning from branches and pine clusters.

Since it stays above 7000 feet it is restricted to the Catalina, Huachuca, Chiricahua, and Santa Rita Mountains in southern Arizona. I have found Grace's along the Carrie Nation Trail in the Santa Ritas, Huachuca Canyon in the Huachucas, and Incinerator Ridge on Mount Lemmon in the Catalinas. I have also seen it in the picnic areas at Middle Bear and Hitchcock in the Catalinas.

That brings me to yesterday's birding trip up Mount Lemmon. My photographs of Grace's at Middle Bear picnic area have never been great because I'm always standing 100 feet below them. Those photos are mostly "belly shots." But at Incinerator Ridge, you can be eye level to mid or top portions of the Ponderosa Pines. And such was the case. Right time, right place, and as luck would have it, a Grace's Warbler landed and perched no more than 15 feet from me (for about 5 seconds) before flying away. But those 5 seconds gave me an opportunity for a photo. And I was pleased with the result (you can see the Ponderosa Pine needles in the background of the photo):

Grace's Warbler

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Agua Caliente: Lucy's and MacGillivray's Warblers and More

Quick trip on Monday to Agua Caliente Regional Park. While the main attraction is the spring fed pond, don't overlook the mesquite bosque between ponds one and two. It can be very birdie with the mesquite trees and grasses.

Here are a few of the photos from Monday:

Ash Throated Flycatcher

Double Crested Cormorant

Green Tailed Towhee

Lucy's Warbler

MacGillivray's Warbler

Phainopepla Female

Red Winged Blackbird

Vermillion Flycatcher Male