Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My How the Days Fly!

After weeks of cool weather and rain the heat and humidity have finally arrived here in Connecticut. I have been here for three weeks now and soon my time here will come to an end. I hit the ground running upon arrival and went immediately to New York City the first weekend here. From there I traveled to New Jersey to go birding with Rick Wright. It was my first time birding in that state and with his help I raised my New Jersey Life List from three species seen along the highway as I travelled through last August to 85 species for that state, 2 of which were Life Birds for me! I have taken lots of photos and will post pictures and stories upon my return to Arizona. I returned to CT on Monday, June 10th and by Tuesday, June 11th was in Maine. After spending 3 days there I returned to CT and went birding in Rhode Island at the Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown, RI. Since then I have birded with friends around Connecticut and by myself around town. I am continually amazed by all the green and all the water. I particularly enjoy listening to rain and when I first arrived, sleeping with the window open and having to add extra blankets to my bed all the while knowing it was over 100 degrees in Arizona! I have since learned that it has been over 100 degrees every day in June and there is a good chance it will continue to reach that temperature or higher. If it does, it will be the first time ever that it has been over 100 every day of the month of June in Tucson. I am hoping that by the time I return the Monsoon will have started and I will get to see and hear some storms as well as feel the temperature drop!
This week in Connecticut is all about family with numerous family birthdays and a high school graduation going on. Over the weekend we were suppose to have our annual Adams Family Road Race, but it was postponed until August for various reasons, so we just had a family get together instead. Tomorrow if all goes well I will reach my goal of birding in Litchfield County, CT as well as in Vermont. Litchfield County is the ONLY Connecticut county I do not have a bird list in YET, and Vermont is the only New England state I have not counted birds in. I have been busy helping my Mom around the house and planting flowers for her in her yard. She has a virtual wildlife habitat here with her bird feeders and her fountain. Though she lives in the center of town, her yard backs up to a vacant lot filled with young saplings and bushes. I have counted up to 18 species of birds in her yard on a single day and she has numerous mammals that frequent her yard, including a family of groundhogs, families of gray squirrels and red squirrels, chipmunks and, at last count, at least 5 cats, some of which are feral. It is not uncommon for the neighbors to see me run screaming and hissing out of the house to chase the cats away from beneath the feeders! I can do a pretty mean mad cat impression!
Around town I have been counting birds at Cohen Meadows, Lion's Pond, and Savin Lake. I have also counted birds at Comstock Covered Bridge and one evening I counted birds at Day Pond. I would like to go back there as I arrived just at sunset and was hearing and seeing so many birds but they were just locking the gates for the night and kicked me out! I spent a lovely day birding with Lin Sandpiper and her husband at Hammonassett Beach State Park and I have plans to go birding with Larry from the Brownstone Birding blog this weekend. I feel my life is so rich and full and I have so much to be thankful for. While I have not added any life birds since my return to New England, I have added several species to individual state and county Life Lists.
I feel I am a person torn in two by my love for my family and New England, and my love for the desert and my husband. In the end I am thankful for both and for the birds that populate each place filling my life with songs, beauty and wonder.
As always, there is poetry happening at Kathie's Poet Tree! I have been writing some poems about Nature and New England and Life with a few more to post before I return to AZ! There is a special poem posting on Thursday in honor of my mother's birthday with a photo of a painting she did for me. I hope you will check it out if you have time. Thank you to everyone who continues to read and comment on my blog! and for the latest story from Arizona, scroll down a post or click on the link to read about The Magic of Madera.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Magic of Madera

DSC_0006 Wild Turkey 5-15-13
I have never gone birding at night before. I was soon to discover how magical it can be. Chris Rohrer called me one day in May and asked if I wanted to go find the Mexican Whippoorwills in Madera Canyon. I have never seen or heard a whippoorwill in my whole life, so off we went. The sun was already setting when we drove into the canyon. Once in the canyon it was already dusk.
DSC_0008 We drove up to the Kubo Bed and Breakfast and got a brief look at some birds there. Across the street the Wild Turkeys called in the gloaming, gobbling as they flew high into a sycamore to roost for the night. It is quite a sight to see such large birds flying up into such tall trees! Overhead a flock of Turkey Vultures circled in a large kettle. In the dusky woods the Dusky-capped Flycatchers called. We got good looks at them, but the dim light made taking photos nearly impossible and I did not want to use flash. It was enough to see the birds. We walked back down to the amphitheater parking lot where we had parked and waited for the Elf Owl to emerge from its hole. Chris sat on the ground with camera in hand but flash off while I just was ready with my bins. But there were other birders there with cameras on tripods all set up and aimed right at the little owls' nest hole. They were around 10 feet away and when the owl poked its head out, one person took a shot and the flash went off. She said, well, it was only once, but how many others come here and say the same thing. I do not object to flash in some situations, but this was far to close to the bird for my comfort level. Chris and I did not want to be part of this, so we backed off and got into our car and drove farther up the canyon.
Here at the top parking lot the light was fading fast. As I turned the corner to the highest parking lot a fox ran across the road and stopped behind a clump of grass. Chris wanted a shot but he could not see it in the dusk, and then the fox ran off. I finished pulling around and parked the car. It was twilight now and that’s when the magic happened. “Whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-will!” sounded from the surrounding forest. We estimated there were at least eight of them! Then we heard the soft “po-po-po” of the Whiskered Screech Owl! Overhead stars filled the night sky like diamonds tossed onto black velvet! Below us in the valley the lights of Green Valley twinkled like a sequined cape laid across the stage of some Las Vegas night Club. And in-between the diamond strewn sky and the sequined earth darkness faded to even darker shadows and silhouettes of the canyon walls. I walked to my car to get something and suddenly a bird flew right over my head! A whippoorwill! Now I have seen and heard them! Chris and I stood there with our mouths agape. I am amazed no bugs flew in! We did not want to leave. We stayed as long as we dared. We did not want to break that magic spell, but finally we left. I felt like I had just experienced one of the most magical nights of my life! But there was more to come.
DSC_0164 Just 15 days later on May 30th Chris and I were back at Madera Canyon to find Botteri’s sparrow and hear the call of the Buff-collared Nightjar. We arrived a bit earlier this time and we were able to find the Botteri’s on the road up to Madera Canyon. We pulled off the road and used the car as a blind and in this way I got several good views of the bird through my binoculars as well as being able to take a few photographs.
DSC_0172 Botteri’s Sparrow 5-30-2013
I was amazed at how flat-headed this sparrow is, and how pretty. It looks quite dull in the bird guides.
DSC_0179 But car after car was passing us. The word had gotten out, and everyone was headed for Proctor Road.
DSC_0180 The birds were heard calling farther down this dirt road in a small wash.
DSC_0181 We drove along the edge of the mountains, counting birds the whole way. A few more cars passed us, and a few more came behind. One person pulled off to park in the same location as us. Others were already there. Chris and I hiked in the 3/4 of a mile to the location where the bird was being heard. He had been here the night before scoping things out, so he already had these birds on his Life List and knew where to find them. Now he was helping me. It’s funny how fast the student becomes the teacher! People were standing around listening and watching. A few more people meandered in, then, just as dusk was falling we started to hear the bird! It called from the darkness in the mesquite. We all cupped our hands around our ears to listen better and try to locate the bird. A bird guide with a group of people came tromping down the dirt road. I signaled to them to be quiet and pointed to the area where the bird was being heard. They quieted down and came closer. Now everyone was listening. Suddenly Chris’ flash went off from 30 feet away! I looked up to see a silhouette of the bird flying over my head! It was in the air and then gone, but I had seen it! Soon it was calling again. The darkness deepened and we heard a Common Poorwill as well. We were satisfied.
At this point the group started to break up. Chris and I decided to head back to the car. Other's had already left. Some stayed just long enough to hear it and get it on their Life List. Other's stayed behind to see if they could get a photo of this shy bird. One person was using a powerful lamp to illuminate the branches in hopes of seeing the bird. I was content with hearing, and seeing in the darkness, and just being there! Everyone knows that Madera Canyon is a great place to go birding, but now I know that it is a magical place in the night! Between these two little adventures I added four species of birds to my Life List bringing my total to 447. My new Life Birds are: Mexican Whippoorwill, Common Poorwill, Buff-collared Nightjar, and Botteri’s Sparrow!
Note: While I am here in Connecticut, Chris is in Guatemala. We are both birding separately and will soon be back with tons of photos and stories to tell! Then we will go birding together again!
Also, I believe I have heard both the Common Poorwill and the Buff-collared Nightjar when I lived in Sycamore Canyon. I heard the Common Poorwill only on one occasion while standing outside the house at midnight talking to my brother, but the nightjar I heard each summer in the middle of the night, around 3 to 4 AM. I heard them the first summer I was there in 2007. The night was cool enough for me to have my window open and the strange call woke me up. I rushed out the door to listen and then I described the sound in my journal. I would say there were several birds and they called over and over from the wash behind my house. However, I could never figure out what bird I was hearing and no one I asked seemed to be able to tell me what it was, but when I heard the nightjar on this night it sounded the same as the middle-of-then-night calls in Sycamore Canyon. As far as I know, no one but me goes birding up there, so now I am intrigued. What if a whole flock of these rare birds is living in the Sycamore Canyon wash? When I return from Connecticut I may just have to investigate!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Fabulous Birds of Mount Lemmon

1. cordilleran-kab Cordilleran Flycatcher at Palisades Visitor’s Center May 24, 2013
May 24, 2013: The heat is coming on early nowadays. I arise early as well and drive over to Celeste's house to pick her up. We are going on a birding adventure this morning but we must beat the heat if we want to see birds. It’s been a while since she has been up Mount Lemmon and she has never been up there just to bird, so off we go. By 7 AM we are standing at the Molina Vista overlook looking for birds.
2. rock squirrel-kabAt first all we find is a Rock Squirrel at Molina Vista Overlook
3. grosbeak-kabBut then a Black-headed Grosbeak shows up.
4. western tananger-kab Male Western Tanager at Molina Vista Overlook
We are both treated to wonderful views of several pairs of Western Tanagers. It is a lovely morning, still a bit cool but warming fast.  We are almost ready to head off to our next destination when something strange happens. A pick-up truck pulls into the parking area and an elderly woman yells out the window, “Are you seeing anything good?” I eagerly respond, “Yes! we just saw some Western Tanagers!” I am surprised by her response.
“Well, I don’t care about them! I’ve already got them on my list for this year.”
“Oh, well, I did hear some sort of flycatcher down in the canyon,” I reply.
“What kind,” she eagerly asks? “I’m not from around here. I need flycatchers!”
I am thinking that if she is not from around here that Western Tanagers should be wonderful! At this point she bolts from the truck and her male companion drives off to park it. I am a bit shocked by her rude behavior and the fact that she does not think Western Tanagers are wonderful. She walks towards us. She is a thin woman with disheveled looking short white hair. I am not sure if that is her style or she didn’t care to comb it when she got up. I tell her we have seen a black-headed grosbeak and some hummingbirds down the short, paved path, but she informs me that she cannot walk that far and she has no time to explain why. She just wants her flycatcher and she wants me to identify it for her. She also pumps me for information on where to find the nesting pair of Red-faced Warblers. Apparently she also needs them for her year list. I tell her I have heard they are up the road at Molina Basin. By now Celeste and I have both shot each other a look as we head back to the car. We wish her well on her hunt and we leave for Molina Basin just up the road. We want to get there before the rude woman.
5. hooded oriole-kab Male Hooded Oriole at Molina Basin
I pull into the parking area and discover the basin is closed off except for the first parking lot. I park the car and roll down the windows because we can hear birds everywhere! We spot a male hooded oriole right off and we are both delighted! House Finches are calling, birds are flying overhead and singing from the trees. I have never been birding in this area so it is all new to me. As we are looking around suddenly Celeste points to my car. The male oriole is attacking his reflection in my side mirrors!
6. mirrior covering-kabCeleste tells me of a time when a male red-winged Blackbird attacked the mirror of a car and got its foot stuck in-between the mirror and the edge and it was badly injured. she suggests we wrap the mirrors to protect the oriole and I agree. I open the car doors and take out my shirt and a small sweater. I toss one to Celeste and we wrap both mirrors, then lock up the car and head down the path.
7. canyon towhee-kab Canyon Towhee at Molina Basin
I am happy to see the barricade that prevents cars from driving farther into the basin. You can still walk in, but apparently this camping area is closed for the summer and will reopen again in the fall. I am thinking that if the rude lady shows up she will not be able to go any farther than the first parking lot since she can’t walk very far. But I am soon to find out that she didn’t quite tell the truth. It’s already been a few hours since Celeste and I have been out and about. We find a shaded picnic table and decide to walk back to the car to get some drinks and snacks, then come back and sit in the shade and watch birds. On our way back to the car we see the lady’s truck. Then, shock of all shocks, she has passed the barrier and is walking our way! birds are calling all around us. She stops to ask me if I know bird calls. I tell her I don’t know many, why? Then she asks if I know that bird’s call. That one right there singing in the tree. “Oh, you mean the Bell’s Vireo,” I reply? “Yes! she exclaims triumphantly! I should have recognized that, she exclaims!”
8. bewicks wren-kab Bewick’s Wren at Molina Basin
Celeste and I get our stuff from the car and walk back to our picnic table. By now the lady who cannot walk is climbing all over the hilly and rocky path and wandering up past the picnic table we have picked out to sit at. This is a good quarter of a mile from the parking lot. We give each other a look once again and head over to sit down. That’s when rude lady comes over and tell us that this looks like the area that someone described to her as being the location of the Red-faced Warbler. Then, she des the only polite thing of the whole day. She asks if we mind if she plays a recording to draw the bird out. I look at Celeste and she looks at me. we are both hoping the other one will reply. I hem and haw. I do not like when people play recordings over and over again and get the birds all excited and they waste their energy. I do not object when people use players judicially, but I actually prefer to find the birds on my own. That is part of the fun and the challenge of birding. I ask Celeste what she thinks and she says she really doesn't like it. so, the lady walks off.  after our snacks are done we walk back to the car to leave our bottles and lunch boxes behind. The woman is still looking for her birds while her male companion is sleeping in the shade in the truck.
9. funnel web-kab Funnel Web in tree at Molina Basin
Before we leave Celeste and I walk back into the basin to do more exploring. we find white-throated swifts slicing the air above us. We find canyon towhees everywhere. In a nearby tree we find a pair of nesting Bewicks wrens. We hear a flycatcher calling from behind the restrooms and walk back there to discover a pair of Western Kingbirds. We are supremely happy. In a tree behind the restrooms Celeste’s points out the web of a funnel web spider spun perfectly into a knot hole on the tree. We both stop to admire its beauty. We walk a bit further down the paved road but the air is heating up and the vegetation has diminished. We are in blazing open sun so we turn back. We have probably seen all the birds we are going to see at this location, but we did not see the Red-faced Warbler.
10. magnificent-kab Magnificent Hummingbird at Palisades Visitor’s Center
It is close to noon by the time we stop at the Palisades Visitor‘s Center. Celeste has never been here before either. We grab our gear and head straight for the deck on the side of the building where there is a hummingbird feeder set up. As we walk down the ramp a Broad-billed hummingbird whistles by. We find a shady place to sit, and then we wait. Soon a male Magnificent Hummingbird makes his appearance at the feeder. Then the female flies in. In a nearby tree a Cordilleran flycatcher winks at us. We are in birding heaven!
11. house wren-kab House Wren at Palisades Visitor’s Center
Soon a sweet little House Wren shows up and shows off! I watch its antics for ten minutes or more. A Broad-billed hummingbird lands on the feeder. Celeste sees a robin on a fallen tree trunk down the slope. Then, while I am distracted by the wren or the Cordilleran, Celeste whispers to me, “Kathie! Kathie! Look! Look!” I turn my head and focus my bins on the pine tree over the deck where the hummingbird feeder hangs and there, working its way through the branches, is a Red-faced warbler! Oh, it is so pretty and I am so busy looking at it that I forget to raise my camera. when I finally come to my sense and pick it up slowly and cautiously the bird sees me and takes off! Still, we both saw it! We both saw it without using any mechanical means to draw it in. It just revealed itself to us! Life Bird for us both!
12. house wren-kab House Wren clinging to windowsill at Palisades Visitor’s Center
13. house wren-kab House Wren at Palisades Visitor’s Center
14. house wren-kab House Wren at Palisades Visitor’s Center
15. YE junco-kabA Yellow-eyed Junco at Palisades Visitor’s Center digs in the grass.
By now we are both hungry, so we head up the road to the cookie cottage for some pizza. It is the Friday before the Memorial day weekend and people are already coming up the mountain. It is lovely and cool up here at only 70 degrees while down in the valley it is nearing the 100 mark. amazingly there is only one young girl working the whole restaurant and she tells us it may be awhile before our pizza is ready. No worries. we purchase tea and a giant cookie to eat while we wait. After all, Celeste is English and it is time for our tea! I must confess that I am the one who wanted the cookie though. I was starving and 25 minutes or more to wait for pizza seemed like an eternity to me at the moment! We sat outside and watched birds while drinking our tea and waiting for our pizza to arrive. A wonderful Stellar’s jay entertained us in the tall pines overhead and a yellow-eyed junco walked around our feet while we sat at our table!
16. mt. chickadee-kab Mountain Chickadee at Marshall Gulch 5-24-13
after tea and pizza we headed down through the village to Marshall Gulch. Her a little creek tumbles along the tree lined street to the forest service parking area with picnic tables strewn all along the way. Most of these we already full of picnickers enjoying the lovely day. However, with people and kids playing and listening to music it didn’t make for very good birding at first until we found the trailhead behind the restroom. there, just a short distance up the trail, we found all kinds of birds, including a Mountain chickadee, and a huge flock of pine siskins feeding on cones overhead. We also saw a Hairy woodpecker, several Cordilleran flycatchers, and we heard a Hermit Thrush singing. By now we realized it was time to head back down the mountain. But before we did, we drove all the way to the top. We didn’t see many birds up there, but we did find a cute horned toad, and the views were spectacular, though a bit hazy from all the dust!
17. horned toad-kab
18. tucson valley-kab View from the top of Mount Lemmon over the Tucson Valley
Today has been a wonderful day birding with a wonderful friend. Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis or knows me knows that I like to keep lists of all the birds I see and I get excited when I see a new bird or get a new species in anew county. I have lists of list, but they are the side pleasure. the main pleasure for me is being outside and seeing the birds. I am happy to see a Robin as much as a Red-faced Warbler. I just love the birds. And I love to count them.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Misery on Mt. Ord but Serenity in Sunflower

1. view Mt. Ord-kab On the slopes of Mt. Ord 5-4-13
May 4, 2013: I arouse in the dark of a Sunday morning rolling out of bed at 3 a.m. and questioning my sanity. Why, exactly, was I getting up at this ungodly hour? Because I was going birding with my friend, Chris Rohrer, and my new friend, Gordon K. in Maricopa county. Why, you might ask, was this such a Big Deal to me? Because I only had 75 species on my Maricopa County Life List and I wanted to bring it up over 100 species. In a discussion I had with my husband the day before he doubted I could see 25 new species in one day, but I had high hopes. Until now I had only birded at Gilbert Water ranch and Encanto Park. This would be a while new habitat and I would be birding with people who knew what to look for and what they were seeing. Since we were to meet Gordon and another birder, Mark Ochs, in Chandler, AZ at 6 a.m. I had to leave my house by 4 to pick Chris up by 4:30 so we could be there by 6. I did try my best and we were only 20 minutes late.
2. bushtit-kab Bushtit
We were on the slopes of Mt. Ord before 7:30. It still felt a bit chilly when we arrived and I was wishing I had a jacket. Little did I know I would soon long for that coolness. On the lower slopes we started our day with Black-chinned sparrows, Scott’s Orioles and a stray Virginia’s Warbler at low elevation, a Life Bird for both Chris and I. As we traveled up the mountain the day grew warmer and soon I was shedding my light sweater and seeking shade.
3. graces warbler-kab Grace’s Warbler on trail
We counted birds all along the dirt road as we travelled higher and higher up the slopes. Eventually we parked the car and walked along a trail that cut across the western face of Mount Ord. Here tall pines towered over us and cast a cooling shade. Warblers, vireos, and towees were all around us. Overhead a Zone-tailed hawk swooped by. It was getting hotter and I was getting hungry, yet we kept on.
4. Mt path-kab I liked the sound of wind in the trees and the smell of pine needles baking in the sun. I liked the look of the dirt path meandering through the trees. I liked this feeling of being outside in the wild far removed from the constructs of man.
4. redstart-kab We all stopped when we heard and then saw a Painted Redstart overhead.
5. plumbeous vireo-kab Plumbeous Vireos were everywhere!
6. lizard-kab While the lizards were basking in the sunshine I was melting. The building heat was quickly sapping my strength and my enthusiasm, but I kept on. It was afternoon time by now and I kept hoping we would take a break and eat the lunches we had all packed, but I was soon to learn, these three men did not stop birding for anything! We reached a point on the trail where it emerged onto a treeless slope and, though it went a bit farther into the scrub, our chances of seeing anything new were slim, so we hiked back to the car and opened the trunk where we all grabbed drinks and snacks, then climbed back into the car and headed farther up the mountain.
7. WETA-kab I remember stopping to view a few Tanangers and wrens along the way. We found a small flock of violet-green swallows swooping over our heads.
8. poison ivy-kab In one cool and shady little drainage I was surprised to discover poison ivy. I did not know there was poison ivy in Arizona. Finally we made it to the last parking lot and had to hike the final mile to the top. Before we headed up I grabbed a bag of cheese popcorn from the trunk. It was bloated like a baloon formt he elevation change. I popped it open and gobbled a few handfuls. Then, after a quick drink of juice I slid my camera onto my shoulder and fastened my bins on my chest. Under a blazing sun we headed up the mountain. The guys went off like they were fresh as the morning. I walked slowly moving from shade patch to shade patch. At one point I felt so miserable I leaned against the thick and bumpy truck of an alligator juniper. In the cool shade I felt my stomach bloating as if it would explode. It flet like that bag of popcorn looked! I was totally fatigued and was having trouble thinking clearly. I was also embarrassed. I never get bloated like this but I did not want the guys to know how I was feeling. How would I explain this? While I know Chris well enough to be comfortable with him, this was only my second time birding with Gordon and I didn’t know Mark at all. The guys were far ahead of me by now. I struggled out of the shade and headed farther up the mountain. soon I saw Chris coming back to check on me. together we walked the rest of the way to the top. I don’t remember much of what I saw at the top other than the other side of the mountain with a view of Roosevelt Lake. I did not take any pictures since everything was so hazy from dust blown up by the strong winds gusting over the valley. When we finally got back to the car I was so thankful to get inside and have the cool air conditioning blowing. We drove down the dusty dirt road and headed for a paved road in a nearby area called Sunflower.
9. summer tananger-kab Here we pulled off the road where a cool creek tumbles slowly along with towering sycamore trees overhead. In one white barked tree we found a summer tananger looking gloriously red against the turquoise blue sky.
10. black hawk nest-kab Across the street a pair of Common Black-hawks were nesting in another sycamore tree. We observed them from a distance as one hawk flew in and the other flew out. Who knew I would ever see nesting Black Hawks! It was after 3 p.m. by now and being down here in this cool shade was making me feel better. I finally realized we were never going to have a “lunch break” so when we parked the car at a cement barrier where the road continued on I finally took out my tuna fish sandwich and ate half of it. Soon after this I started to feel better. The road continued along the flowing creek. Birds were all around us and overhead as well. Being with three men makes relieving myself a bit of a challenge. All day long I had to let them wander ahead and then duck into the trees. This time I let them go in search of a zone-tailed hawk nest Gordon knew of that was farther up the road while I slipped down the bank towards the creek. After taking care of what was necessary I walked into the cooling water of the creek with my Teva sandals and let the water flow over my feet. I stood there quiet and peaceful in the shade and let the forest renew my strength. I never did see the zone-tailed’s nest, though I did see them soaring overhead. I met the guys back up on the road and we all headed back to the car.
11. canyon wren-kab As we neared the place where our car was parked we heard the clear tumbling notes of a Canyon Wren. We soon spotted it singing from a rocky ledge overhead, then it flew down into a bush. We all snapped away but it was still quite a distance from us and little more than an white-breasted orange dot in the frame. Still, it was Chris’ best view ever of this species. 12. zonetailed hawk-kab 
We headed back to Chandler as the sun sank low in the sky. Once back in my car Chris and I went over the events of the day. It was then that Chris told me he had been so miserable and bloated at the top of Mt. Ord. He also had felt tired and sick and hot and exhausted. I remember the “bloated” bag of cheese popcorn and couldn’t help but think the events were related. I told Chris I had felt the same way as well and wondered what was going on. I told him I was so glad he told me that, because I would have been too embarrassed to tell him. The next day when I related these events to my oldest son who goes hiking in the mountains all the time, he told me we had altitude sickness! While I knew about altitude sickness I did not reco9gnize the symptoms in myself. I knew altitude sickness could make you tired and disoriented and have a headache, but I did not know it could cause that kind of bloating. Plus, it didn’t make sense to me since I have been up Mt. Lemmon, a 9000 foot mountain, numerous times without any problem. Mt. Ord is much lower in elevation. By my son told me that when he first started hiking Sabino Canyon that would happen to him until he adjusted. He theorized it was because we were exercising and not just driving up the mountain. And suddenly it all made sense. I called Chris and explained what happened to us! He was as surprised as I was.
13. dreaming-kab While I will always remember Mt. Ord as a hazy, hot blurry kind of day, I will also remember that it was beautiful and full of birds, and between Mt. Ord and Sunflower I saw so many new species of birds in Maricopa County that I went well over my goal of seeing 25 new species there. By the end of the day I ended up with 120 species for my Life List in Maricopa County having added 45 species for the day! I would definitely go back again, but this time I will make sure to go when its cooler and eat a lot sooner, guys or no guys! Lesson learned!
New species Seen in Maricopa County on 5-4-2013
  1. Black Vulture-these species seen along highway
  2. Red-tailed Hawk
  3. Common Raven
  4. Phainopepla
  5. Sharp-shinned Hawk-this and following species seen on Mount Ord
  6. Zone-tailed Hawk
  7. Broad-billed Hummingbird
  8. Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  9. western Wood Pewee
  10. Cordilleran Flycatcher
  11. Ash-throated Flycatcher
  12. Cassin’s Kingbird
  13. Western Kingbird
  14. Plumbeous Vireo
  15. Hutton’s Vireo
  16. Western Scrub jay
  17. Bridled Titmouse
  18. Bushtit
  19. White-breasted Nuthatch
  20. Bewick’s wren
  21. Virginia's Warbler
  22. grace’s Warbler
  23. Black-throated gray warbler
  24. Painted Redstart
  25. Spotted Towhee
  26. Rufous-crowned Sparrow
  27. chipping Sparrow
  28. Black-chinned Sparrow
  29. Hepatic Tanager
  30. Western Tanager
  31. Scott’s oriole
  32. Acorn woodpecker
  33. Hammond’s Flycatcher
  34. Violet-green Swallow
  35. House Wren
  36. Western Bluebird
  37. Townsend’s Warbler
  38. Common Black-hawk- these species added in Sunflower
  39. Willow Flycatcher
  40. Bell’s Vireo
  41. Canyon Wren
  42. Lucy’s Warbler
  43. Summer Tanager
  44. Northern Cardinal
  45. Hooded Oriole
Note: While some of these species were seen in several locations I have listed them in the order they were first sighted throughout the day. Of course we saw other species as well but these are just the new species added to my Maricopa County List.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Birding is Fun When you Count Birds

6-7-13 Bog 2012-4-24 SOSP singing

Song Sparrow at the Stirling Street Bog in Andover, MA

This little sparrow is singing about how much fun it can be to count birds. Why does it matter? Fly on over to Birding is Fun to find out why. That’s where I am posting today!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Quail Saga Continues

1. too high-kab Baby Quail 5-25-13 in my yard

On May 25 I had the biggest surprise when I discovered a family of quail in my yard. The babies are so tiny that they can not climb up the brick retaining wall to stay with their mom.

2. chicks-kab 

3. babies-kab 

4. hen n chick-kab Mom and chicks run around my yard.

5. hen n chicks-kab 

6. dog house-kab So I decide to go outside and build a set of steps for the quail. While I am out there the mother quail and her chicks run over here and hide behind this dog house. But one chick is not fast enough and even though I am in the backyard a Cooper’s hawk swoops down and grabs a chick before it can hide! The little family of 6 is now reduced to 5; Mamma, Papa, and 3 wee chicks!

7. standing guard-kab The next day I see papa standing guard on the block wall to alert the family of any danger. This seems to be his job, while mom stays with the chicks.

8. running for cover-kab Mom and chicks scuttle past my window while I try to snap a photo. Can you see the baby behind the rose bush?

9. steps-kab Quail chick staircase I built so they can get back to their nesting site.

10. quail roost-kab The quail nest under this desert broom.

11. Mom and chick-kab May 28, 2013 Two more chicks are gone. I am sad.

12. anxious dad-kabMay 29, 2013 Papa standing guard, but he is trying to entice the female away. He knows they must move on. This place is not safe. The Cooper’s Hawk comes back every day.

13. crossroads-kab The female at a crossroads. She is so torn. The male is calling and she wants to follow. The chicks is calling her and she wants to stay.

14. open gate-kab May 30, 2013. I open the gate and leave a trail of bird seed hoping they will follow it to freedom. On this night I go birding in Madera Canyon with Chris Rohrer. It is well after midnight when I return. The next day I do not see the papa standing guard. I do not see any quail. I am happy. I think the quail ran out the door and are living in the desert now. It is a good day. I am happy and relieved. But the next morning I look out my backdoor first thing to count birds. Suddenly i see a tiny little bird darting around under the feeders. It moves faster than sparrows or finches. I know it is the baby quail. I grab my bins. Sure enough, there is the little chick all alone with no parents in sight. They have abandoned it! Now I feel even more responsible for it! I put out food and water for it. That is all I can do. Though it seems heart wrenching for the parents to have abandoned their chick, I think they actually might have saved it by doing so, for I have not seen the Cooper’s Hawk since.

15. alone-kab June 1, 2013 I spot the baby quail alone under the feeders.

16. in the grass-kab It looks so tiny. How will it survive?

17. little one-kab There are so many dangers in this big world for one tiny quail chick.

June 3, 2013 update: I have seen the quail for the past few days now. Sometimes it seems to follow the doves around as if wanting to be part of a flock. Other times I have seen this feisty little chick dart at them with its tiny little beak and drive the doves away from its food! On the evening of June 2nd I saw it trying to get close to a dove and the dove just kept flying a short distance and landing again. Then the quail chick would run up and try to nestled up to its breast. Finally the dove got irritated and flew away. I listened helplessly while the little chick cried piteously and ran around the yard. Eventually it went back to the desert broom to roost for the night. I wished a pair of quail would come back to the yard so the chick could feel like it was part of a covey again. this goes to show how little I know about life in the desert and quail.

The next morning I looked out my balcony doors like I always do. to my utter surprise and delight I saw a pair of quail in the yard. I was ecstatic! things couldn’t be more perfect I thought. I looked out and saw the little ball of fluff running around under the feeders with the other birds. I saw the quail feeding in a different location. then I saw the baby quail run over to where the adult quail were. I could tell they were not the family of this quail because this quail’s momma had some white feather’s on her head and the female of this pair did not. as the little chicks got closer to the quail I suddenly saw the male dart at the chick and stab at it viciously with its beak! then, it picked the baby up and tossed it. I thought he was going to kill the chick! i ran downstairs and out the door fearing I would find a bloody mess. Of course, all the other birds flew away, and I did not find the chick. I filled the birdbath and feeders, then went back inside. In a few minutes I saw the baby chick running around beneath the feeders once again.

By the time you are reading this, I will be on the east coast visiting my family. I will not be there to see what happens to the little chick. Before I left I did buy some seed for my husband to toss out on the ground for the bird. If it lives to adulthood I will be surprised. It seems that everything is against this little guy (or girl) but so far it has managed to beat all the odds. If you would like to read the beginning of this story, just click on the link below. Oh, and I have not seen the cats again since that first day.