Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Santa Cruz Flats & Sweetwater Wetlands - 24 Nov 2012
Mentioned earlier this week that I had gotten behind in my blog postings! This time I have to go all the way back to the 24th of November and try to remember how the day went. Mark Ochs contacted me on Friday night and wanted to know if I was interested in heading south to try and find the Groove-billed Ani that had been reported at Sweetwater Wetlands. Of course I did! So I met him in Gold Canyon and we took the back roads to Tucson and glad I went as we saw a lot of raptors on the way down and on the way back. But more about the raptors later in the post. Our first goal was Sweetwater and the search for the Groove-billed Ani. When we arrived, many other vehicles were arriving and I think just about all of them were there for the same thing, 'Find the Ani'! We joined up with John Higgins and headed to the west area and ponds 9 and 10 and John was the first one to spot it far away at the top of a tree with some Salt Cedar in front of us. Mark got his scope on it and I got a really good look at it and could even see the grooves in the bill. Attempted to take a photo, but too much clutter in front of the bird did not make for a good photo. So without a good photo of the Ani, I will start off this post with my first photographed bird of the day, a Yellow-headed Blackbird. This is one sharp looking bird!
Other birds I had the pleasure of photographing at Sweetwater Wetlands included a juvenile Cooper's Hawk that had apparently taken a bath and found itself a perch in the sun and was really relaxed in spreading its wings and tail to allow the sun to assist in drying out.
The rest of the photos from this place are all water birds of one kind or another; an American Wigeon, a Green Heron, a Northern Shoveler, a Pied-billed Grebe, and a Ruddy Duck.
Once we left Tucson and headed back home, Mark suggested that we check out the Santa Cruz Flats area for raptors and sure glad we did. This area is a great place to see and observe many species of raptors. Our little side trip did not disappoint. We observed numerous Red-tailed Hawks, but probably the most stunning one was a 'Dark-morph' Red Tail.
Other hawks included a nice Ferruginous Hawk, a couple of Prairie Falcons and about 8 Crested Caracaras. The hawks posed nicely on poles for us as long as we stayed in the car. The Crested Caracaras were a distance away in a farmers corral that did not allow us to get close up views.
And just to make sure you read the entire post, here is my only photo of the target bird, a Groove-billed Ani. (Kind of looks like a black blob, doesn't it?) That is part of bird watching; sometimes even a short glimpse and a really bad photo makes for a wonderful day when you spot a really rare bird and a new life bird!