Thursday, March 20, 2014
Oak Flats & Superior, Arizona
Last Sunday, birding friend Muriel Neddermeyer and myself, carpooled to attend a meeting of the Arizona Field Ornithologists (AZFO) at Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior, Arizona, so we decided to start out the day early by driving a bit further east to Oak Flats Campground. This place is a rather amazing place and a great spot for birding among the sometimes many campers. Our target birds were the Gray Vireo and the Black-chinned Sparrow. Neither bird was a life bird for us, but they are birds that can be difficult to find and then get photos. One has to know the proper habitat to locate them and the area around this campground was perfect. We were rather surprised how many campers were there, but we also quickly discovered the place was full of birds.
Initially, we were not having much luck with our target birds, but as we roamed about the hillside surrounding the campground we found some really neat birds such as an Ash-throated Flycatcher, several Bewick's Wrens, a Hermit Thrush and a lot of Spotted Towhees.
As we worked our way to the east side of the camp grounds we heard a vireo in the distance and as we forged our way to the call, we knew it was a Gray Vireo, one of our target birds. About the time we actually saw it another bird came flying in to us and landed in tree right above us and it was our other target bird, the Black-chinned Sparrow. What a stroke of luck to get both of them at almost the exact same time. Caused a bit of a dilemma on which one we should focus on, so we just focused on both. Eventually the Gray Vireo also came out of the cover of the shrubs and landed on a branch for us for clear viewing. It is not a new bird to either of us, but we had never had one display itself so well for our viewing.
Knowing that we had successfully achieved our goal on our 2 target birds and also realizing that we needed to think about heading back to BTA for our meeting, we decided to start back. We calculated that we had about 15 minutes of free time on the way back, so we made a brief stop at the small city roadside park in Superior which can have some pretty nifty birds for such a small area and on this day we were treated to wonderful views of one of the most beautiful birds in Arizona, the Vermilion Flycatcher. The males are stunning and the females are quite attractive in their own right, but the bright red of the males can sometimes be hard to capture in a photo, but on this day it was not a problem.
What a way to end our day of birding with some of our favorite birds.