Monday, April 29, 2013

It’s a Bloomin’ Desert!

1. Lucy's warbler at Perry Park-kab Lucy’s Warbler on Ocatillo at Michael Perry Park 4-18-13

Spring is in full swing here in Arizona with plants a-bloomin’ everywhere! I’ve been out birding, birding, birding like crazy with friends and fellow bloggers. With the temperature heading into the upper 90’s I will be staying home more. Perhaps I will finally get caught up on my blogging! Until then, enjoy the blooming desert!

2. roses-kab Roses in my own backyard 4-13-13

3. syc canyon park-kab Palo Verdes in bloom at the Sycamore Canyon Park 4-17-13

4. ocatillo-kab Ocatillo Blossom 4-18-13 M. Perry Park

4. penstemmon-kab Penstemmon in Sycamore Canyon 4-17-13

5. yucca blossoms-kab Yucca blossoms at M. Perry Park 4-18-13

6. palo verde-kabThis Palo Verde tree is a riot of blooms!

7. palo verde blooms-kab Close-up of Palo Verde Blossoms 4-25-13


8. cactus-kab Blooming cactus in Celeste's Yard 4-23-13

9. cholla cactus-kab Cholla Cactus in bloom 4-25-13

10. mexican bird of paradise-kab Wild Mexican Bird of Paradise 4-25-13

11. turkey vulture-kab Turkey Vulture seen through the blossoms of a Palo Verde tree 4-25-13

You know spring has returned when the turkey vultures are soaring overhead. Seen through the haze of Palo Verde blossoms it has its own beauty. After riding a wave of up and down temperatures we’ve settled into a pattern of warm days and cool nights, but the real heat is about to settle in here with our first 100 degree day expected sometime at the beginning of May.

National Poetry Month is almost over. Tomorrow is the last day. I’ve manage to write or post a poem almost every day and I will get one done for tomorrow, along with a new blogpost for Kathie’s Birds. I have so much to get caught up on, but how can I stay inside when there are so many birds to be seen outside! Be sure to click on the links to see more birds and fellow bloggers!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Nighthawks Fly

7. nighthawk-kab

Over the desert wash they fly

Hawking for insects as they go

Nighthawks have taken to the sky

Over the desert wash they fly

You rarely hear their trilling cry

Wings beat fast—they never slow

Over the desert wash they fly

Hawking for insects as they go.

~Kathie Adams Brown (April 23, 2013)

NaPoWriMo 2013/30 Poems in 30 Days

Prompt 23: Write a Triolet

National Poetry Month is almost over, but I am still trying to write a poem a day and while I have missed a couple of days, sometimes I write two or more. Today is one of those days. I had fun with this prompt and I’ve posted a humorous poem on my Poet Tree Blog, but this one seems appropriate for Kathie’s Birds. I hope you like it! Click on the link for the prompt if you want to know what a triolet is. More blogging to come soon. I went birding this morning with a fellow blogger named Mary from the Faith, Fabric and Photos blog. We met at Sweetwater Wetlands, along with her sister and husband. I have known Mary through her blog from back when I wrote my Sycamore Canyon blog. It was nice to finally meet her in person. And, in spite of the heat and the workers chipping wood at Sweetwater, we still managed to see 45 species of birds! Also, a week ago I went birding with another birder and blogger named Gordon. His post is now up! Check it out. He has great photos!

Monday, April 22, 2013

In Search of Nighthawks

1. Mt. fagan-kab

It was a busy weekend here and Sunday we just crashed and watched TV, but by Sunday evening I was itching to get out of the house and see some birds. I know that the nighthawks have been spotted in the area, but I had yet to see any for myself. Knowing that we used to see them all the time in Sycamore Canyon of Corona de Tucson, Gus and I decided to go for a drive and see if we could find some.

The sun is still shining and the air still warm and dry as we hop into the convertible. Gus heads for Old Spanish Trail and we wind our way along the Rincon Mountains and up through Vail in order to avoid the Pima County Fair Traffic on Houghton Rd. Here in Arizona they do their county fair in spring instead of autumn. I am guessing this is due to the weather, which is perfect at this time of year!

2. cactus garden-kab As we drive through Vail Town Center the road starts to climb toward the Santa Rita Mountains. Above us the sky is mostly clear. I am lost somewhere deep in thought as the miles slip by. Soon we are turning onto Harrison Road with the Mt. Fagan and the Santa Rita Mountains looming ahead. Gus cannot resist a drive past our old house and I see that the cactus garden we planted out front is still there and one cactus is blooming bright pink blossoms!

3. Syc Can Park-kab We head down to the park then and park our car and get out. While the park looks pretty much the same, there are a lot more people and dogs in it. Someone has a whole team of huskies! They look so out of place here in the desert. I grab my bins and notebook and we take of walking. Gus soon goes ahead of me while I linger to look for birds, but all I am seeing are Mourning Doves and White-winged doves, and a lone Cactus Wren. In the desert I hear Curve-billed thrashers and Gambel’s Quail.

I see a desert cottontail hiding just off the path wanting to get out onto the lush4. cottontail-kab green lawn of the park, but still leery of all the people and dogs. Behind it a jack rabbit looks like a giant as it dwarfs the smaller rabbit with its huge feet, legs, and ears. While I am enjoying seeing these creatures, it is still not what I came to see! I scan the park, the desert, and the sky for nighthawks, but see none. I finish my circuit around the track and make it back near the parking lot. By now Gus has done several laps and the sun has set. People have left the park and we are just about the only ones left. As I wait for Gus to come around again I scan the desert for nighthawks and find a Great Horned Owl perched atop a tall saguaro instead. Its silhouette looks like an eared lump against the tangerine sunset! 5. sunset-kab The temperature has dropped quite a bit by now but we still leave the top down as we get back into the convertible. We drive away from the park and Sycamore Canyon without seeing a single nighthawk. I find this distressing since I know they used to be here on a regular basis. I ask Gus to drive by Road Runner Market at the junction of Houghton and Sahuarita Roads as it has numerous street lights and often there are nighthawks hunting for insects here. We drive east on Sahuarita Road, then turn south on Houghton where Gus does a u-turn and we are now facing north. All this time I have been scanning the sky overhead for nighthawks to no avail. I have not seen one. As we wait at the stop light in the left turn lane to drive down to Sahuarita I suddenly see motion across the street from us on the northeast corner of the intersection. This is not a nighthawk. It is a large raptor, an owl, but too pale for a Great Horned Owl. I train my binoculars on the bird, which has landed on a fence post low to the ground, and discover it is a Barn Owl! With no one behind us we sit through three changes of the light while I watch this magnificent raptor as it turns its head from side to side searching the ground below for prey. We finally make the turn and drive away without knowing if the owl got to eat tonight. As Gus turns the car west I am smiling like a Cheshire Cat moon in the night.

6. Nighthawk-kab All along the ten or more miles to Sahuarita I am looking for nighthawks in street lights to no avail. We spend about 30 minutes or more in the grocery store before getting back into our car to head home. I ask Gus to drive through Rancho Sahuarita as we head north. The paved road snakes through the development with street lights scattered here and there. It is as we are nearing the end of the road that I see a well lit parking lot off on my right. As Gus drive forward suddenly I see the ghostly flash of a bat-like body as it moves in and out of one of the street lights! Nighthawks! “Gus!” I yell, “I think I just saw some nighthawks!” My patient husband turns the car around and we drive back to the parking lot. Sure enough, as we park beneath one of the lights we see the nighthawks swooping and fluttering like giant moths hawking for insects.

7. nighthawk-kab We sit there in the darkness, bathed in the glow of street lights and watch the birds swoop, dive and flutter. Their erratic flight is so unpredictable. Their bodies so cryptically colored, yet I can see their notched tails streaming out behind them, and the white or buffy patches in their wings. We get mostly Lesser Nighthawks here in Arizona, but it is possible to find common nighthawks as well. In the Lesser species the females have a buffy patch on their wings, instead of the white patch of the male Lessers or both sexes of Common Nighthawks.

8. nighthawk-kab I think I could have stayed there and watched those birds all night long, but after ten to fifteen minutes we finally left. It is hard for me to drive away in this cool night air, because I am still concerned for this species of bird. I did not see very many insects in the street lights. When there was a brief bit of insect activity suddenly eight nighthawks came into the lights at once, then they were gone, and so were the insects. Until that one moment Gus and I had only see four nighthawks at the same time. The nighthawks seem to prefer the lights that were nearest the open desert beyond. I did not see them hunting at any of the lights nearer the center of the parking lot.

So, it was with a somewhat sad smile that I left the birds behind me as Gus drove away. Here in Sahuarita the temperature had dropped to 65F! But, by the time we got back up to Tucson it was back to 75F! That just shows you the effect of the “heat bubble” created by the city. I am happy to have finally seen my nighthawks, but a bit concerned about their population. I know so many insects are being poisoned by pesticides and along with them, the wildlife that feed on them. We must find a way to live with these creatures that share the earth with us. All of our lives are enriched by their presence.

Happy Earth Day!

9. GH owl-kabGreat Horned Owl in Sycamore Canyon 8-8-2008

Note: All photos in this post are from my archives from when I lived in Sycamore Canyon between 2007 and 2010. While I no longer live in Sycamore Canyon, I do have friends who do. I did not have my camera with me on this drive. Besides, it was soon too dark for photography!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Birding Perry Park Again

1. VerFly-kab Vermillion Flycatcher at Michael Perry Park 3-17-13

After days of writing and blogging and processing photos and writing poetry, I felt the need to get outside and get away, so yesterday I ran away to Sycamore Canyon where I visited a friend and counted birds. This morning I got up and headed straight for Michael Perry Park. While I know this is an eBird Hotspot, there is very little data for this location, so I have made it my mission to count birds here and try to fill in the gaps. When I first arrived last fall there were only 20 species listed for this location. After today’s bird count I have brought that number up to 53 species!

2. VerFly female-kab Female Vermillion flycatcher at Perry Park

While Vermillion Flycatchers, Anna’s Hummingbirds, and Mourning Doves are regularly seen at this location, as the seasons change I am startling to get a better idea of what is regular and what is just passing through. The cormorant I saw fly overhead a few weeks ago was just passing by, but the hummingbird and dove population has changed with the seasons. All winter I counted large numbers of Mourning Doves here and few to eventually no White-winged Doves. Today there were only about a dozen Mourning Doves while I counted over 50 White-winged Doves! all winter long there were Anna’s Hummingbirds everywhere. Today I only saw about 6, but I counted nearly a dozen Black-chinned hummingbirds, and I even found a female sitting on a nest!

3. Lark sp-kab Lark Sparrow in Perry Park 3-17-13

Lark Sparrows were one of the first species I ever saw at Michael Perry Park. I have now seen them here at least three times, including today. I most often see them around the baseball fields. Today was the first time in weeks that I was able to walk the 3/4 of a mile out to the Stella Road Trailhead. I use to count birds all the way out to Sellarole Road, but after looking at the map decided to limit my count from Golf Links road to the Stella Road Trailhead along the Pantanto Wash as that is the limit of Perry Park. It is also more do-able for me. Still, I deceive myself when I think I will only do a “quick count” as there are usually so many birds to see that I linger and linger and take my time, not wanting to miss anything. I arrived at 8:55 A.M. this morning and stayed until 11:30! It was a brilliantly cool blue day here today, so the heat did not chase me away as usual. In just one week’s time the bird population has changed and I had my largest bird count ever for this location at 36 species of birds, including one Lifer!

Here is the list of birds seen at Michael Perry Park today:

  1. Gambel’s Quail
  2. Turkey Vulture
  3. Red-tailed Hawk
  4. Cooper’s Hawk
  5. Harris Hawk
  6. Rock Pigeon
  7. White-winged Dove
  8. Mourning Dove
  9. Black-chinned Hummingbird
  10. Anna’s Hummingbird
  11. Gila woodpecker
  12. American Kestrel
  13. Say’s Phoebe
  14. Vermillion Flycatcher
  15. Cassin’s Kingbird*
  16. Dusky Flycatcher**
  17. Common Raven
  18. Northern rough-winged Swallow
  19. Barn Swallow*
  20. Verdin
  21. House Wren*
  22. Cactus Wren
  23. Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
  24. Northern Mockingbird
  25. Curve-billed Thrasher
  26. European Starling
  27. Lucy’s Warbler
  28. Canyon Towhee*
  29. Chipping Sparrow*
  30. Brewer’s Sparrow
  31. Lark Sparrow
  32. white-crowned Sparrow
  33. Great-tailed Grackle
  34. House Finch
  35. Lesser Goldfinch
  36. House Sparrow

*New to this location

**Life Bird!!!!!

Notes From my Nest: My knee is starting to feel better since I have been icing it and trying to keep off my feet. I will be quite busy for the nest few days as it is my grandson’s 5th birthday this weekend and I am making the cake. We have had a spate of cool weather here with mornings being in the mid to high 40’s and daytime high’s in the mid to upper 60’s, but the heat is on its way back and soon we will cross that 100F mark, which, according to one local news station, usually strikes around the beginning of May! But, this morning when I left the house I actually had one a flannel shirt over a t-shirt with my fleece vest on! The fleece wasn’t needed for long as it warmed up nicely and the winds were not fierce like they were yesterday. I hope you all have a great weekend! More birding stories are coming!

4. Pantano trail-kab View of trail along the Pantano Wash at Michael Perry Park 10-26-2012

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Remembering Boston


“Beauty is the mark God sets upon virtue. Every natural action is graceful. Every heroic act is also decent, and causes the place and bystanders to shine. We are taught by great actions that the universe is the property of every individual in it.” Ralph Waldo Emerson; Nature 1836

Yesterday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon has brought many emotions to the surface for me. My heart breaks for all those who were affected by this tragedy. I have friends and family members who are runners, and though none of them were there this day, it affected them deeply as well. Of course it makes me think of my two years living in Massachusetts, a state I vowed I would never live in but slowly came to love. As I watched and listened to the news coverage of yesterday and today I could not stop tears from welling up in my eyes and streaming down my face. We all want to know why, but then I thought; there is no satisfactory answer to that question. Nothing justifies or brings logic or reason to that kind of act. Year ago when the 9-11 tragedy happened I was attending college and we were reading Emerson in my American Literature class at the time. It was amazing to me and everyone else that in the face of such horror there was the goodness of those who rushed in to help. The above quote by Emerson seemed so applicable then, and I thought of it once again after seeing the news coverage of yesterday’s tragedy.

For me, I deal with things like this by writing. This blog post is my attempt at bringing some sort of saneness to this insanity. I want to remember the good things about Massachusetts and Boston. I want to honor those whose lives were lost or permanently changed due to this criminal act. I want to bring order to my own emotions and I do that by writing. There will be more bird posts forthcoming, but today I want to share my grief and say thank you to all the good people out there who rushed to help, who showed the rest of us that there is still beauty and kindness in the world. And yes, there are more poems related to this subject on Kathie’s Poet Tree.

House Cleaning

I am not thinking of lost limbs as I scrub these kitchen walls,

I do not see bloody sidewalks as I clean out my sink,

These are not tears streaming down my face and

splashing on the newly washed floor,

I am not thinking of Boston,

or trying to wash these memories away,

I am only cleaning house.

~Kathie Adams Brown (April 16, 2013)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Preview of Coming Attractions

1. Mex spotted owl-kabMexican Spotted Owls, Miller Canyon 3-23-13

Well, I’ve finally made it through my 500 photos and deleted over 100 of them. sometimes it’s because they are blurry, and sometimes it’s because I have taken numerous photos to help me identify a bird, and once I have, I delete the rest if they aren’t very good. But I must confess, I took well over 100 photos of the Mexican spotted owls Chris Rohrer and I saw in Millar Canyon and I only deleted a couple, even though the rest look pretty much the same! I could not wait to share this picture of a bird that was a Life Bird for me, but I hope to do a better post in the future.

2. gray squirrel-kab On the same day that we saw the Spotted Owls, I photographed this gray squirrel eating new buds off a tree in Ramsey Canyon. Chris and I went here first, then hit Ash Canyon and Miller Canyons before calling it a day. While I had been to Ramsey Canyon when I lived here before, I had never been to Ash Canyon or Miller Canyon. Ash Canyon is an easy place to visit. A woman named Mary Jo has a bed and breakfast there and she allows other birders to come and sit at her feeders for a meager $5 donation. Miller Canyon is a bit rougher to get to. first, the dirt road up to it is dirt and has several washouts. Then, once you park and hike the short distance up the canyon it gets even steeper with more washouts. We ended our day there and, though it was rough, it was well worth the trip to see the owls.

3. antelope-kab Pronghorns at Las Cienegas 3-25-13

On March 25 I took my friend Celeste to Las Cienegas just southeast of Tucson. She had never been here before and since she was a guide in Africa for many years I thought she would enjoy the feel of a Savannah once again. Beside all the birds we saw, we were thrilled to see these desert Pronghorns along the roadside on the drive in!

Notes From My Nest: It was a gorgeous sunny day here in Tucson with birds in the yard and in the air. A Cooper’s Hawk swooped in around noon and briefly scared everyone off. Earlier in the morning the Pyrrhuloxia was back, but once again he did not stay for long. The foolish doves have laid two eggs on the narrow ledge once again and are now trying to construct a nest around the eggs. We will see how this goes. I think Darwin’s principle is coming into play here and I am starting to think it is probably good that none of the offspring from this apparently senseless birds survives! I have got to find a way to keep them from building here again!

I have spent all evening working on publishing a post of my Stirling Street Bog Bird List from the 2 years that I lived there. Back in February I learned that my data was being used for a book about the Birds of Den Rock Park by a woman I met when I lived there named Susan Hegarty. I plan to removed the Stirling Street Bog Bird List from my sidebar and post a link to it instead. I am trying to tidy things up around here!

I am going birding with yet another birder and blogger tomorrow, so it may be a couple of days before I get another post up. Gordon Karre is from Mesa and has a blog called Birding Adventures. Make sure you check it out, as well as Celeste’s Blogs. And of course, poetry is still happening on Kathie’s Poet Tree. So far I have only missed one day of writing 30 Poems in 30 Days, but we will see if I can make it up! It’s not to late to join the fun if you are so inclined! Links to all the blogs and information are listed below.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Notes From My Nest: Yard Birds and More

1. birdbath-kab Mourning Doves 3-21-13

Migration is in full swing around here and nesting season is well underway for some species. My mourning doves have already laid two clutches of eggs which promptly rolled off the narrow ledge they chose for a nesting sight and then smashed on the patio below. I am seeing young goldfinches begging their parents for food in my yard already and I watch as the parent bird pull out a seed and place it in the young one’s beak. soon these youngsters ill have to fend for themselves as the parents leave to lay more eggs and start the cycle all over again. March and April have brought many new species into my yard and I am sure I will see even more before the summer arrives.

2. PISI-kab Pine Siskin* in Mesquite tree 3-15-13

3. lizard-kab Lizard in my chair 3-19-13

4. Amke-kab American Kestrel 3-19-13

5. pyrrhuloxia-kab Pyrrhuloxia* 3-21-13

6. pyrrhuloxia-kab Pyrrhuloxia 3-21-13

7. luwa-kab Lucy’s Warbler 3-22-13

I had a pair of Lucy’s Warblers* hanging around my yard for about a week or two as the mesquite trees leafed out. The trees are in full foliage now and I haven’t seen them in over a week. Can you find this one in the rose bush?

8. daffodils-kab We don’t get Daffodils here in Tucson as far as I know, but I really love them in springtime. So, I bought some from the store and when these faded, I bought some more! Not only do they look good, but they also have a lovely fragrance that fills my house with the scent of spring! The last bouquet is almost ready for the trash again. Then I will have to find something new to put in this, my favorite vase!

9. easterboy-kab Who doesn’t love a photo of a cute little boy hunting for eggs at Easter! This is my grandson, Xavier. It was so much fun to watch him get into the hunt for Easter Eggs. He soon made a game of it himself and he would walk right by the eggs, pretending not to see them. Then he would turn around and snatch the egg up! All the time he had a running narrative going on. The whole thing became a grand story in his active imagination!

10. gambels quail-kab Gambel’s Quail* 4-8-13 in my yard.

Until last month I had not seen or heard a Gambel’s Quail in my yard. Last month I started to hear them in the distance, so I knew they were around, but I was utterly astonished when I looked out the front window on Monday and saw a pair in my front yard! I rushed downstairs and grabbed my camera hoping they were still out front and I could slowly open the front door and snap a picture. However, I just happened to look out the sliding glass door into the backyard first and low and behold, there were four of them on the block wall! I watched them as they peered down into my yard, looking as if they were trying to decide if it were worth the risk for them to fly down. I snapped these photos through the glass, then, while I was looking down, they disappeared. Too bad! I was so hoping they would come into the yard and like it here! I love quail!

11. yrwa-kab Yellow-rumped Warbler 3-8-13

There are still a few yellow-rumped warblers hanging around. While some have fully molting into spring breeding plumage, a few still are mid-molt and they look rather scraggly. I have yet to see if they will stay around all summer or migrate away. For the moment they are liking my fruit flavored suet and the bits of dried pineapple I put out. They also like the Burt’s Bark Butter or Bark Butter bits, but so do all the other birds and they gobble it up so quickly that it is cost prohibitive for me to feed it.

12. flimsy nest-kab This is the flimsy nest the Mourning doves built on a narrow 4” ledge under my patio eaves. The silly thing is, there are 8” cubbies at the front of the roof where they could safely build a nest but they don’t, even though they do like to roost in there.

13. modos-kab Mourning Doves Roosting in cubby-hole 3-28-13

On Monday we had a massive wind and dust storm here in Tucson. that brought in a cold front and rain overnight. Tuesday morning the air was still full of dust and clouds and the temp was much colder after Monday’s high of 82 F. It was so chilly that I had to wear shoes and socks again along with a long-sleeved shirt. When I went out birding in the late afternoon with Chris Rohrer at Sweetwater I even had to wear my fuzzy vest over my long-sleeved shirt! Our high yesterday was only 65 F! Chris and I went in search of the Franklin’s Gull and Red-necked Phalarope that had been reported there. We found the gull but not the Phalarope. However, we did see our first White-faced ibises of the year, and I saw my FOTY Yellow Warbler and American Avocet as well. There was plenty of evidence from Monday’s wind storm with a huge willow down across the path on the east side of the ponds. However, swallows and blackbirds filled the air as we walked the trails in search of our target birds. There were only two other people there, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves, and it was dark by the time we left.

April is National Poetry Month, so pop on over to my poetry blog if you want to see what I’ve been composing! Some days I follow the prompts and some days I don’t. Some poems rhyme, and some are Free Verse. They cover a wide variety of topics as well, including nature and bird poems, with a little bit of whimsy and nonsense thrown in!

*New Yard Birds (look in the sidebar for my complete Tucson Yard List)

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Condor in the Room

DSC_0721-Chris and I-kab

 Chris and I at Agua Caliente Park 9-9-2012

I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile. Today I am finally getting around to it. No, there is no actual condor in the room. This is just my birdy take on the old saying, “The elephant in the room.” It means when one is avoiding the obvious, the thing that everyone can see, but no one is talking about. Well, I am talking it today, and that is my friendship with Chris Rohrer.

DSC_0191 Empire gulch-kab Chris at Empire Gulch 9-16-12

When I first moved here last August I was very depressed. Though I had lived in Tucson before and loved it, I had also loved being back on the east coast near my family. With the discovery of my Mom’s breast cancer while I was there, and her subsequent treatment and recovery, it was suddenly very hard to leave her, and it has never been this way before in all the times I’ve moved away over and over again.

Poetry header 11-3-10 But it was not only my Mom, my sister or even the rest of my family that made it hard. After years of living out west and loving it, I had finally fallen in love with New England again. I loved the maple trees in autumn, a warm fire on the hearth in winter, the lilacs in spring, and the smell of pine needles baking in the warm summer sun. I love the ocean in all seasons, as well as the birds. After living in the desert for three and a half years, I loved the presence of water everywhere. You can’t drive very far in New England without seeing a lake, pond, river or brook. There are swamps and bogs all over the place, and, of course, there is the ocean! And though our New England Mountains are not as tall and jagged as the Rockies, they do have their own quiet beauty. And then there are the trees: tall, towering pines, branching, lush maples, strong, majestic oaks, and delicate, lacy willows. Once again, quite a contrast to the Sonoran Desert.

DSC_0583 balcony birding-kab So, as my car pulled up in front of the new house we would be renting, my heart sank. I got up every morning and sat on the balcony looking off to the east and missing my Mom. Being homesick is a rather new feeling for me, and I didn’t quite know what to do with myself, so I kept myself busy unpacking and rearranging my nest and trying not to cry. My husband didn’t quite know what to do with me. He wanted to make me happy, but he wanted to be here, in Tucson, with no snow. He was thrilled to be back and because he didn’t know how to “fix it,” I think he avoided the subject all together.

DSC_0657-Agua Caliente-kabThis is where Chris comes into the picture. I had never met Chris before I moved here, though I had communicated with him some from my Sycamore Canyon blog. Then we lost contact with each other until right before I moved here. He re-discovered me on my Kathie’s Birds Blog and started commenting. When he heard I was moving back, he encouraged me. Once I finally got here, he invited me to go birding with him. Since it was the start of football season, my husband and son were watching football every weekend, so it made it easy to leave them behind and go out birding. It started with our first meeting at Agua Caliente Park. We hit it off right away and had such a good time. So, we planned another birding adventure for the next weekend and the next. Since both of us have partners who do not care to bird and since we got along so well, we were soon going birding every weekend. Then the New Year rolled around and we started a Big January. Before I knew it, my sadness was gone. I was happy to be here again.

DSC_0001 Gilbert Water Ranch-kab Chris Learning to list on his first visit to Gilbert Water Ranch 11-12-2012

When I first met Chris he was still a bit new to birding. But once I showed him eBird, he took the bit in his mouth and was off and running. Soon he was chasing birds more than me. He would call me up and say, “I’m stopping by Sweetwater after work. Want to meet me there?” Or, “There is a Canada Goose down at Kennedy Park, let’s go see it!” For my part, I got excited about showing him all the birding locations that I knew. I love to share my passions. That is why I write all the blogs I do. You don’t spend so much time with someone if you do not like them. I like Chris. He is a good friend. Our birding styles are similar and we get along great. I think we are both sensitive to the other, we both care passionately about the birds, and we accept each other for who they are. It wasn’t long before I knew that I had made a lifelong friend.

DSC_0004 santa cruz river-kab Birding the Santa Cruz River in Marana 12-29-12

However, I became aware of one thing. Soon all my blogposts were about Chris and I and our biridng adventures. There were few, if any blogposts about me and my own thoughts and my own birding adventures. In some ways I felt like I was losing myself and becoming this new entity. I was left with the question, how do I maintain my friendship with Chris, and still be myself? I realized that my birding life and my blog had changed, yet I didn’t want to end my friendship with Chris. That would be stupid. I just needed some down time. I just needed a chance to be alone and think by myself again.

DSC_0054 Lark Buntings Lark Buntings in Avra Valley 10-28-2012

Just about two weeks ago I fell while hiking and birding with Celeste in Saguaro National Park. Chris was working at the time, then headed to Flagstaff for the weekend with his partner. The fall really cut up my left leg and knee, which is still healing, but it also presented me with some down time, a chance to be alone and get my thoughts back together, and get back to being myself. I started writing poetry again, and getting caught up on photo processing and blogposts and visiting other blogs.

DSC_0025 Whitewater draw-kabWhitewater draw 1-3-2013

It is always a dilemma for me: stay home and blog, or go out birding and have great adventures and see wonderful birds but then have not time to blog about it! I know Chris faces the same dilemma. We talk about it all the time. It’s all about finding balance, and that is up to each of us.

DSC_0713 Chris-kab My birding buddy and friend, Chris 9-9-2012

So, what’s the end result here? I like having Chris for my friend. My birding life is enhanced by having someone to share it with. We will continue to have many birding adventures and sometimes I know that I will still overdo it. I am and will always be “Kathiesbirds,” but sometimes I will also be The Adventures of Kathie and Chris. And that is okay with me. As Robert Mortensen put it so well, having a birding buddy allows us to find more birds. We now have two pairs of eyes, two pairs of ears and two cameras to capture the birds with! Chris gets me to go places I would not go by myself. I taught him to list. He has taught me to chase! Chris hears better than I do; I see better than him. Chris researches all the birds beforehand. I like to go where no birder has gone before! As for the Condor in the room, well, I think I have set it free. I have never actually seen one a real one, and neither has Chris…Yet! Chris, can you say, “Road Trip!”

DSC_0058 View from balcony-kab

Western view from my balcony in Tucson, AZ 12-31-2012