Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pima Canyon Wash - 2 June 2013

Well, today it was back to my usual haunt.  The desert heat has arrived and when that happens, my birding around the Phoenix area greatly subsides.  When the morning temps can be 90° at 5:00 AM, then you might as well stay home or head to higher elevation spots.  Today, I decided to get in a good hike before the sun came up and the heat set in, so I made it a point to arrive at the trail head at 5:00 AM.  Was so early I had to wait for the gate to open and I was the second vehicle in line to enter.  Today when I started my hike, I decided to keep track of birds that I could identify by song or call as I made my way around.  At 5:00 AM, it is still fairly dark and many of the birds are hard to see and are not yet very mobile.  The whole experiment actually turned into an enlightening fact for me.  In my 2 hour hike I counted 16 species of birds and 13 of those birds I identified by song before I actually saw the bird.  The other 3 birds were birds that I found and were silent, so I did not know they were there until I actually saw them.  And those 3 species are also birds that I can easily identify by song or call.  So the reality of this experiment, was that I knew every species today by song or call.  2 years ago I was not even close to identifying that many species audibly.  Guess my knowledge of the avian life is getting better.  I do know that the more a person spends observing birds and their habitats, the easier identification becomes.

Since I was trying to beat the heat, I did not spend long periods of time photographing birds, but I did capture a few images and for the most part they are birds I have photographed many times in the past. One of the most interesting scenes was my photographs of a Canyon Towhee.  It was sitting on a branch in a tree, which is a bit unusual as they prefer being difficult to see and near the ground as most towhees are.  So I was trying to get some decent photos of this one singing and did not notice until I got home and started processing my photos that a Black-tailed Gnatcatcher was photo-bombing my photos in the background.  Guess it was trying to get noticed as well.  Kind of nice to see some birds can be comics!

 Canyon Towhee

 Canyon Towhee;  photo-bombed by a Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Canyon Towhee;  photo-bombed by a Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Later down the wash, another Black-tailed Gnatcatcher took front and center stage and left no doubt who I was supposed to be shooting.

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Very near my turn around spot of the hike, I turned a corner and was surprised to find a Canyon Wren.  This is bird that I normally hear long before I see it and its song is so unique and an easy one to remember.  Here is a link to to the Cornell University site where one can listen to its call:
This was a nice find as it stayed fairly close and allowed a couple of decent photos.  Many times this bird is seen from a distance on rocky slopes of canyons.  In my opinion, it is one of the prettiest of all the wrens.

 Canyon Wren

Canyon Wren

Other photos include an Ash-throated Flycatcher, a Cactus Wren and a Mourning Dove.
 Ash-throated Flycatcher

 Cactus Wren

Mourning Dove

And just so you know I am not stretching the truth about the early starting time, I took a photo of the moon at 4:30 AM just a few minutes before I left the house to go hiking this morning.  Actually turned out better than I thought it would.

Moon over Mesa, AZ

1 comment:

  1. WOW!!! Nice shots Gordon! Yes...that Cactus Wren is a good one:) I know I'll eventually get them but how long does it have to take?:) I really have to push myself out of the house to do this birding thing. It's way too hot out there. Difficult months ahead, I fear.