The first weekend in October is usually the weekend that AZFO (Arizona Field Ornithologists) holds their annual gathering. Every year it is held in a different location which is a great way to introduce others from around the state to new spots for birding. This year the meeting was held in the Globe/Miami area in Arizona and since the Pinal Mountains are close by, I was familiar with a bit of the area. The meeting was being held on Saturday, but there was a couple of mini expeditions set to take place on Friday afternoon. Chris Rohrer decided to attend so he drove up from Tucson and we met on Friday morning to make a quick trip into the Pinal Mountains as he had never been there before. Knowing the time we had to work with, we hurried through many of the spots I would normally stop at as I wanted to get Chris to the top. Turned out to be a very lucky plan because we found some really great birds at the top.
The first bird that caught our attention flew over our heads from the rear and quickly flew on the back side of some pine trees, but it quickly returned and it turned out to be a Lewis's Woodpecker. Not a rare bird in Arizona by any means, but one that I had never observed in Gila County. While the photo is not the best, it is at least diagnostic of the species.
About the same time that I was trying to get some photos of this bird on the other side of a small pond, Chris noticed a Band-tailed Pigeon in one of the oaks on the south side. Once again, not a rare bird, but a bit uncommon and not always easy to find and photograph. My previous sightings only consist of one photograph of the bottom end of one of these birds, but high up in a pine tree snag. This one was cooperative with us for photos, but the angle of the sunlight was not where we would have preferred. Regardless, it was nice to get some identifiable photos of this bird.
As we were really enjoying the moment with good looks of these 2 species of birds, another small flock of smaller birds flew over and into the tops of the pines. Once again this was another bird that was new to me for this location. In fact, this same bird was a life bird for both Chris and I back in February of this year; Cassin's Finch. I believe this made the 3rd sighting of this bird for us this year.
Cassin's Finch - There are 3 of these birds in this photo
It would have been great to have more time to explore this area, but since we had to be back into Globe by about noon, we did not have the luxury of excess time on our hands. Even though it was a relatively quick trip up and back, we did find some remarkable birds.
We had signed up for a mini Field Expedition in the afternoon to visit Timber Campground and Jones Water Campgrounds so we met up with the very large group that had signed up. Both spots offered great birding but as usual, afternoon birding is not always the best time to explore. We did get to see some really nice birds, but photography was not at its best except for a Bridled Titmouse. Both spots are now on my list of places to visit and spend more time exploring.
The meeting on Saturday was a success with lots of great presentations and information to be absorbed. Sunday we had signed up for the Sierra Ancha Wilderness area field trip and we were introduced to some amazing wilderness with outstanding scenery. The first stop included an inside viewing of the habitat near the Rossevelt Lake Diversion Dam. We had a lot of birds and had a great time, unfortunately, my only photos for that day consisted of an Ash-throated Flycatcher and a Gray Flycatcher.
When we returned to the entrance area we discovered a Great-horned Owl on the steps to the restrooms. The owl will probably never know how lucky it was to be found by this group of humans. There were several in the group that were familiar with rescue and rehabilitation. It was captured and found to be very emancipated and it was then transported to Liberty Wildlife in Scottsdale, AZ and was found to have suffered a leg fracture that had already started to heal. It was given food and an IV for re-hydration and is expected to make a full recovery. That was good news to all.
This was a great weekend for Arizona birding. Got to see many birding friends and meet many more. Definitely will be an annual event for me. In ending this post, just want to share a couple of other photos that I got on this weekend of things other than birds.