SE Arizona - Sulphur Springs Valley (16 Feb 2013)

by AJ 16. February 2013 12:49

After two days of hard driving it was time to relax and have some fun.  The first push was from Las Cruces, NM to Willcox, AZ and then south to Whitewater Draw where I hooked up with friends Sheri and Tom for a brief time.  Whitewater Draw has enough water this year that it's attractive to the wintering Sandhill Cranes and before we even got our hello out Tom pointed out a circling Golden Eagle making the cranes a bit nervous.  It won't be much longer until these guys head north.  The "Draw" also had Snow Geese, various ducks, a couple species of shorebirds, and the first Great Egret of the trip.  The place was pretty busy with crane seekers and the hoped for American Bittern was no where to be found.

After lunch it was off to cruising the roads of the Sulphur Springs Valley.  I was lucky to find a couple of juvenile Ferruginous Hawks - one light morph which was pretty straightforward but the dark morph took a bit of time to figure out for sure.  As always Northern Harriers glided easily over the grasslands.

The highlight of a lap around Lake Cochise at the Willcox golf course was the group of 32 Long-billed Curlews, a bird I don't get to see often.  No more hard driving - early night in Willcox.


Birds | Travel


The 2013 Trek Southwest

by AJ 15. February 2013 10:31

For those interested in tracking on the places I've birded, I have created this Google map.

I left home about 8:00 AM on 14 February and pretty much just stayed the course south and west all day.  Raptors were neat in the Flint Hills of Kansas with numerous Red-tailed Hawks and a few hovering Rough-legged Hawks.  Northern Harriers coursed the grasslands looking for tasty morsels.  By the end of the day I found my self in the Texas panhandle with 800 miles under my belt.

The next day it was up early to hit the road again.  Just east of Albuquerque I made a detour north into the Sandia Mountains.  There was some snow and ice in the higher elevations and the wind was pretty intense so birding wasn't all that great.  I did manage to see a swirling flock of rosy-finches and could pick out both Black and Gray-crowned.  Although a common mountain bird, Stellar's Jay is always fun.

The next stop was at the Owl Cafe at San Antonio, NM for one of their famous green chile cheeseburgers.  A drive through Bosque del Apache NWR is always fun and it was great to have Snow and Ross' Goose side by side for comparison.



Following the Rio Grande River south I arrived in Las Cruces as darkness fell and after a shorter day (only 600 miles) called it a night.  The next day I would begin birding Arizona, starting with trying to make connections with friends Sheri Williamson and Tom Wood who were leading a trip to Whitewater Draw on Saturday.



Birds | Travel


Unseen Predators

by AJ 28. January 2013 11:41

My feeders are usually pretty active, but every once in awhile I look out and everything is motionless.  One day a Downy Woodpecker didn't even twitch for twenty minutes! That's the sign that a raptor, probably an accipiter, is in the area.  This winter I have had two different Cooper's Hawks, an adult and a juvenile, cruising the area for snacks.  Last week I saw all the activity abruptly stop and got up to look out the window.  I could see nothing but the birds obviously knew it was close.  All of a sudden the adult Cooper's landed on the shepherd's hook three feet from my nose.  It was frustrating but reaching for my camera was out of the question.  What a gorgeous bird!

It looked around a bit and then took off for the brushy area where tons of House Sparrows hang out.  What fun to watch the hawk jump through the brush in search of a bite to eat.  It's amazing how such a big bird can fly through the tangles.

I think my all-time favorite accipiter encounter was several years ago while searching for No. Saw-whet Owls at Lake Ahquabi State Park.  As I came around a tree, there was a Northern Goshawk with a freshly killed bunny.  Now a Goshawk is a big bird but try as it might it just couldn't fly carrying its bunny rabbit.  It eyed me, tried again and failed, and finally moved off.  So did I.  It's tough enough making a living with all that snow cover.



Powered by BlogEngine.NET
Original Design by Laptop Geek, Adapted by onesoft