Sunday, April 28, 2013
Above the Rim - Part 2
The 2nd day of my visit to the Heber/Overgaard area was spent checking out some new sites and returning to some familiar ones. Most of this visit was to familiarize myself a bit more on where to go and how to get around in this upper elevation region. On May 11th I will be taking part of the NAMBC (North American Migratory Bird Count). This year I volunteered to assist in Navajo County, and it will be a new area with different birds and is an exciting adventure to look forward to in a couple of weeks.
Took a road trip early in the morning to Zeniff, which is an agricultural area about 30 minutes north and east of Heber/Overgaard and a totally different habitat with different birds. This is high desert country and the tall conifers are absent in this area. First thing I found when I turned off the highway was a Western Meadowlark perched on a fence post singing is very melodic song; one that I am very familiar with as it was a very common bird on the western plains of Nebraska. About 200 yards further along the road I happened to find another meadowlark, but this one was singing a much different song; this was an Eastern Meadowlark. These 2 species are almost identical in appearance, but their songs are so very different and this was a great opportunity to listen to the differences in song and make mental notes for the future.
Western Meadowlark (and a very poor photo)
I also counted 3 Swainson's Hawks at this location, and one of them perched close enough to capture a couple of photos.
As I made my way back to H/O and Forest Road 86 on my way to Black Canyon Lake again, I stopped at the bridge over the stream and checked out the area and discovered a pair of House Wrens that had taken advantage of a hole in a dead tree trunk and was using it as their nest.
House Wren - peeking out of its nesting cavity.
Finally I got to Black Canyon Lake once again and a couple free loaders came right up to the car to greet me and looking for handouts. Apparently they have learned to rely on hand outs from the few people that visit this lake to fish. The first was a Steller's Jay that flew into a tree on the opposite side of my car, less that 15 feet away. He was so close that my zoom lens could not get the entire bird in one frame. The other beggar was a Golden Mantled Squirrel, that came running up to the car as well.
Golden Mantled Squirrel
This visit resulted in another unexpected find, a Bonaparte's Gull. This species seems to show up every now and then in some remote place where they are not expected and this was the case with this one.
This second day I also located a Spotted Sandpiper that I did not see the day before and as normal for this species, it kept running in the opposite direction from me. I had also seen many 'Red-shafted' Northern Flickers just about everywhere I stopped to bird. Was finally able to capture a photo of one before it disappeared into the trees.
'Red-shafted' Northern Flicker
As I made my way back to town, an Abert's Squirrel ran across the road in front of my car and then stopped. Of course I stopped as well and shot some photos from the car. Those ear tufts are just too fascinating. With that I bid adieu to the northern areas above the Mogollon Rim and headed home to return to birding in my old hangouts. But with migration in full swing, I have been seeing some wonderful birds since then.