Thursday, January 16, 2014

Am I Doing a Big January?

1. Agua Caliente Park pond-kab Agua Caliente Park 1-13-14

As the time to move grows nearer I find myself busy with all the preparations. While I don’t have to pack and move myself, I do have things that need to get done and people I want to spend time with before I leave. But I also want to see my favorite places and my favorite birds. I am trying to squeeze in birding whenever and wherever I can, but I am also trying to make sure I spend time with my son and grandson before I leave. As a result, there has been little time for blogging, but here I am tonight, trying to write a post or two and keep everyone abreast of what is going on.

2. agua Caliente Park island-kab

I am used to doing a Big January each New Year since 2008. With everything going on I wasn't going to do one this year, but I still feel the pull of it and the desire to be out birding as much as possible. Of course I am counting birds in my yard, but I am also counting them in the parking lots and along the roads. I managed to get to Sweetwater Wetlands one day with Chris, as well as out to the Tangue Verde wash this past Sunday afternoon. On Saturday I took my son and grandson to Colossal Cave Mountain Park where I added a Bewick's Wren to the list while we were waiting for our cave tour. By Sunday night I was up to 76 species of birds. When my son needed me to drive my grandson to school on Monday morning, I took advantage of the opportunity and went to Agua Caliente Park after dropping him off. I thought I would just take a quick look around but ended up staying for 2 hours and counting 26 species of birds, 5 of which where new to my 2014 Year List.

3. Agua Caliente Park dry pond-kab

Walking around the park Monday morning was very poignant for me. I can't help looking at each tree and cactus, each curve of the mountains and thinking to myself how much I love this place and how I will miss it. I am immensely thankful that I was able to live here for as long as I have and to experience this place.  Agua Caliente Park holds a special place in my heart, because it is the place where I first went birding with Celeste back in 2010 and with Chris Rohrer in the fall of 2012.

4. thru the fronds

After spending the morning in Agua Caliente Park I decided to see if I could find the Great Horned Owls in Saguaro National Park, so at 4:50 PM I headed over to the Freeman Homestead Trail for a hike.

5. Moonrise in Saguaro NP

It was all pretty quiet on the trail. The sun was sinking low and deep shadows lay across the dusty trail. There was only one other car in the parking lot as I set out, but all was quiet. I heard no birds or people until I got farther down the trail where the voices of children drifted up from the canyon and I heard the trill of a Rock Wren ringing off the canyon walls. As I descended the trail towards the wash, I constantly scanned the cliff walls where the owls are known to roost and nest, but though I examined each cave-like hole and each tree, I did not see an owl anywhere.

6. Saguaro NP silhouettes

With the sun sinking lower the temperature dropped and I heard my feet crunching in the gravel wash, but still no birds, until I heard the whistling of a Mourning Dove's wings as it flew over my head and landed on the branch of a nearby tree to roost for the night. Finally the trail took a turn upwards and as I ascended through the rocks and desert scrub I saw a small bird bouncing on an outcropping ahead of me. It did not take me long to recognize the Rock Wren picking among the cracks in the stones. When it saw me it flitted off into the bush and as I stopped to get a better look I heard the call of a Curve-billed Thrasher piece the quiet dusk. As I stood there soaking it all in suddenly I saw motion out of the corner of my eye and I turned to see a Great Horned Owl gliding silently along the edge of the canyon walls that only moments ago towered above my head! Bingo! I got my bird! I followed it with my binoculars on its stealthy flight until it disappeared beyond the wash and into the desert evening.

7. Sunset in Saguaro NP 1-14-14-kab

So...maybe I am doing a Big January after all! Here is the list of birds I have seen so far:

  1. Rock Pigeon-Tucson Yard-January 1, 2014
  2. Mourning Dove
  3. Anna's Hummingbird
  4. Cactus Wren
  5. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  6. house Finch
  7. Lesser Goldfinch
  8. House Sparrow
  9. Costa’s Hummingbird-my neighborhood-January 1
  10. Gila Woodpecker
  11. Say’s Phoebe
  12. Common Raven
  13. Verdin
  14. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  15. Curve-billed thrasher
  16. Northern Mockingbird
  17. Phainopepla
  18. Pyrrhuloxia
  19. Canyon towhee-Saguaro NP, east-January 1
  20. Black-throated Sparrow
  21. Cooper’s Hawk-Tucson yard-January 2
  22. Gambel’s Quail-Tangue Verde Wash-January 3
  23. Red-tailed Hawk
  24. Northern Flicker
  25. Vermilion Flycatcher
  26. Abert’s Towhee
  27. White-crowned Sparrow
  28. Great-tailed Grackle
  29. Gadwall-Sweetwater Wetlands-January 4
  30. Mallard
  31. Cinnamon teal
  32. Northern Shoveler
  33. Green-winged Teal
  34. Ring-necked Duck
  35. Bufflehead
  36. ruddy Duck
  37. Pied-billed grebe
  38. Eared Grebe
  39. Sora
  40. Common Gallinule
  41. American Coot
  42. black-necked Stilt
  43. Killdeer
  44. Spotted Sandpiper
  45. Least Sandpiper
  46. Eurasian Collared-dove
  47. Red-naped Sapsucker
  48. Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  49. Black Phoebe
  50. Marsh Wren
  51. Orange-crowned Warbler
  52. Common Yellow-throat
  53. Song Sparrow
  54. Lincoln’s Sparrow
  55. Red-winged Blackbird
  56. American Wigeon-Reid Park-January 4
  57. Canvasback
  58. Great Egret
  59. Black-crowned Night heron
  60. Lewis’s Woodpecker
  61. Western Bluebird
  62. European starling
  63. Chipping Sparrow
  64. Dark-eyed Junco
  65. Great Blue Heron-Lakeside Park-jauary 5
  66. American Kestrel
  67. Lark Sparrow
  68. Brewer’s Blackbird
  69. Bronzed Cowbird
  70. Brown-headed Cowbird
  71. Harris’s Hawk-North Houghton Rd-January 8
  72. Broad-billed Hummingbird-Celeste’s Yard
  73. Northern Cardinal
  74. Bewick’s Wren-Colossal Cave Mountain Park-January 11
  75. Red-shouldered Hawk-tangue Verde Wash-January 12
  76. White-winged Dove
  77. Cedar Waxwing
  78. Western Screech Owl-Celeste’s Yard
  79. Sharp-shinned Hawk-Agua Caliente Park-January 13
  80. Belted Kingfisher
  81. House Wren
  82. Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
  83. American Robin
  84. Great Horned Owl-Saguaro National Park-January 13
  85. Rock Wren

Note: Bold type denotes new location and/or new date.



  1. A beautiful desert sunset. Good luck with saying goodbye to the birds, places and people.

  2. Magnifique balade, de merveilleuses photos!
    Bonne journée- Cath.

  3. Lovely photos and scenes, Kathie! The sunset is gorgeous. Good luck on your Big January!

  4. Oh, wow! I'm thinking about starting up my walking plans again, but doing it AFTER school, especially in the late afternoons!
    Cheryl Ann ~~Beautiful sunset photos!

  5. You Kathie, restricting your Birding activities, not possible.
    Beautiful sunset images.

  6. Hi Kathie

    From your photos and comments it seems a magical spot.

    All the best.


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.