Monday, August 4, 2014
Beyond the White Mountains
On Saturday, the four of us had decided to make a trek to the far northeastern corner of the state of Arizona to make an attempt to add the Black-billed Magpie to our Arizona bird list. It was not a life bird for any of us, but a little community by the name of Teec Nos Pos is the only spot in Arizona where this bird can be found. Its range extends to the north and east of this spot in western United States. Well, after a very 'loonnnggg' drive we struck out and were a bit disappointed, but as we started heading south and back to the Greer area, we took advantage of some various lakes and ponds to be found in this dry high elevation desert environment. One of those stops was Ganado Lake and we were quite pleasantly surprised with this place. Definitely a worthwhile place to stop off for some bird viewing if one is passing through this desolate area. Lots of waterfowl, but most of it quite a distance from shore for photos. However, I could not resist trying to get a photo of a pair of Eared Grebes and their family of 3 young ones. One of the young was even riding on the back of one of the adults while the other two were being fed by the other adult after short dives.
Eared Grebe and babies
Along the southwestern shore, we found several wading birds and by observing from the vehicle we were able to get a bit closer to some of them and better photos. Birds can be a bit more relaxed if one remains in a vehicle; but when you open the door, the go on high alert and fly away quickly if they feel the least bit threatened. One of these birds was a Greater Yellowlegs still retaining most of its breeding plumage. It is a fairly common bird in the winter in the lower elevations of Arizona, but in the winter plumage it is mostly gray and white, without any chest and belly speckling.
For me, the shore bird that I enjoyed the most was a couple of Solitary Sandpipers. Not a new bird for me by any means, but one that I do not see often enough, let alone get some decent photos. It was great to see them up close and observe the key field marks on these birds.
Another bird that was still sporting its more colorful breeding plumage was a couple of Spotted Sandpipers. When seeing them in their breeding plumage, one can definitely understand where they got their name.
Of course we had several of the very common Killdeer along the shores as well, but as common as they are, I still love capturing photos especially when I can capture the red of their eyes.
Also along the west side of the lake we found a Prairie Dog town. They were quick to retreat to their burrows as we approached, but at least one of them lingered long enough above ground for a couple of photos. This is a fairly good sized rodent and I do recall that we had a small town in the pasture of our farm in Hayes County, Nebraska many years ago. (No, I am not saying how many years!)
We arrived back at camp with light rain showers. Yes, it was a long day with a lot of miles, but we had a lot of fun and some of the extra curricular activities in the car while travelling should prove to be quite humorous for some upcoming videos with Tommy's directing.