Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Catching Up: Black Chinned Sparrow

A nice find at Florida Canyon was a very cooperative Black Chinned Sparrow:

Black Chinned Sparrow

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Catching Up: Mountain Plover

Mountain Plovers are an endangered species. Estimates suggest only 15 to 20,000 worldwide population. To put in perspective, there are over 20 million deer in the United States alone. Mountain Plovers are sporadically found in the US from Montana through Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. The only place they have been found in Arizona is Santa Cruz Flats -- what Christine calls "the alternate universe." They like the turf farms and Santa Cruz Flats has several square miles of turf farms.

Actually, Santa Cruz Flats is a great winter birding site with two very different terrains. In addition to the turf (and cotton fields) there are several miles of barren scrub desert. Lots of raptors including all five US species of Falcons (Peregrine, Prairie, Merlin, Kestrel, and Crested Caracara). I went a few weeks ago and found over 100 Crested Caracaras. This last trip I came across two Sprague's Pipits, a very rare bird to the US. Unfortunately neither photograph turned out well enough to post. 

But, back to the Mountain Plovers. I did come across 30 or so Mountain Plovers. Here are a couple photos:

Mountain Plover

Mountain Plover

Friday, January 27, 2017

Catching Up: Louisiana Waterthrush

Now for my best find of the winter: the Louisiana Waterthrush. I have been working on a book of "Warblers of Arizona." This little guy has eluded me for several years. It only comes into Southern Arizona in very small numbers and usually solitary when it comes. Over the years one has been spotted near Sabino Canyon Dam, Santa Cruz River near Tumacacori, Santa Cruz River near Ina Road in Tucson, Santa Cruz River at Sasco Road west of Red Rock (north of Tucson), and San Pedro River in Hereford. I have searched all of those places after reports with no luck -- until last month at San Pedro. Here then is the Louisiana Waterthrush:

Louisiana Waterthrush

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Catching Up: Lesser Scaup

The Lesser Scaup is a winter resident in much of the Southern United States that spends its summer in much of Canada. It is not a common resident of Arizona though, so it was a nice find. It too, was photographed at Patagonia Lake:

Lesser Scaup

Monday, January 23, 2017

Catching UP: Ladder-backed Woodpecker

The Ladder-backed Woodpecker is a Southwest United States year round resident. This photo was taken at Patagonia Lake:

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Catching Up: Horned Grebe

This Horned Grebe, which is fairly rare to Arizona -- though found throughout much of the US at various times of the year -- was a nice find at Christopher Columbus Lake:

Horned Grebe

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Catching Up: Great Egret

This Great Egret is a resident of Christopher Columbus Lake, a regional park in West Tucson:

Great Egret

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Catching Up: Gray Flycatcher

The Gray Flycatcher is found in the far Western United States during the summer but only in the extreme southeastern part of Arizona in the winter. This one was at Patagonia Lake:

Gray Flycatcher

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Catching Up: Double Crested Cormorant

Here a photo of a Double Crested Cormorant taken at Christopher Columbus Lake west of Tucson:

Double Crested Cormorant

Friday, January 13, 2017

Catching Up: Crested Caracara

Santa Cruz Flats is also a very reliable place to find Crested Caracaras -- especially during the winter months. Summers I look more along Arizona Highway 86 between Sells and Ajo.

Since it is winter, it's Santa Cruz Flats:

Crested Caracara

Crested Caracara

Crested Caracara

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Catching Up: Clark's Grebe

Water is scarce in Southern Arizona, so where there is water there is often wildlife. Here at Farina's Dairy Farm Pond, a Clark's Grebe:

Clark's Grebe

Monday, January 9, 2017

Catching Up: Burrowing Owl

Santa Cruz Flats is the most reliable place for finding Burrowing Owls. They are often found along Tweedy Road, Pretzler Road, and/or Philips Road. This one was taken on Tweedy just north of Pretzler.

Burrowing Owl

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Catching Up: Black Phoebe

I love this Black Phoebe photo also taken at Patagonia Lake:

Black Phoebe

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Catching Up: Bewick's Wren

A trip to Patagonia Lake produced some nice photos including these Bewick's Wrens:

Bewick's Wren

Bewick's Wren

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Catching Up: American Kestrel

Santa Cruz Flats is a great place for finding Falcons -- especially the American Kestrel. Here are a couple photos taken this past month:

American kestrel

American Kestrel

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Rainy Day at Sweetwater Wetlands

Catching up from last month's Best Wildlife Photos of 2016, I'll start with a quick trip to Sweetwater Wetlands; quick, because shortly after I arrived and was at the far end of the Wetlands it started raining.

Nonetheless, I did come away with some photos; some better than others. The first, a Belted Kingfisher shows the difficulty in photographing birds sometimes. Often when they see you they immediately fly away, never to be seen again. All I got was a blurr:

Belted Kingfisher
There was a Black Crowned Night Heron -- not as often seen at Sweetwater:
Black Crowned Night Heron
The more secretive Common Gallinule showed himself momentarily:
Common Gallinule
The Cooper's Hawks (as well as the Sharp Shins) were out and about. This one I took in the pouring rain:
Cooper's Hawk
 A Great Egret did a flyby:
Great Egret
 And, the Ruddy Ducks -- seen more often in the winter months -- were in most of the ponds:
Ruddy Duck
All in all, a nice, short, wet morning birding and photographing at Sweetwater.