Pacific Wren

Pacific Wren
Pacific Wren

Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 - A New Year

It feels like I have deserted my blog site, but that is far from the truth.  Due to an unplanned and unforeseen visit by an influenza virus, I virtually have not been able to get out birding since Christmas.  This past weekend was the first time I have been able to get out and about and this was after the gift of Mother Nature dropping in and giving Arizona a taste of winter.  Truly not as serious as other parts of the country, but to Arizona standards, it was cold.  Saturday morning, I bundled up and headed for the Lake Pleasant area, just to see what I could find on my own.  While I did not come away with any photos, being able to add the Common Loon to my Maricopa County list was long overdue and I actually got to see 2 of them.
 
So Sunday morning, I headed out to a couple of spots in the east valley along the lower Salt River.  A stop at the Granite Reef Recreation Site, gave me my first thrasher for the year and surprisingly, it was not a Curve-billed Thrasher which is the most common species of thrasher in Arizona.  I was serenaded by a Crissal Thrasher singing high from the top of a salt cedar.  Not a bird to always give great views or photo ops, but maybe it is a good omen for another good year of birding.
 
Crissal Thrasher
 
From the bitter cold of Granite Reef, I then headed to Butcher Jones Beach on Saguaro Lake.  Secretly, I was hoping that the Surf Scoter might still be present, but alas, this was not the case.  That's not to say it was not on Saguaro Lake as it could have been far out into the main part of the lake.  So I spent my time observing the water birds and trying to get some photos of one of my favorite ducks, the Bufflehead which is the smallest duck in the U.S.  The males are stunning and when the light hits the iridescent feathers on the head, you get to see a rainbow of colors.  Being diving ducks, they were constantly diving and photos at times proved to be a bit of a challenge.  Just as you are ready to trip the shutter they would dive, so here is a series of photos showing the various moments.
 
 Bufflehead - Male
 
 Bufflehead - Male
 
 Bufflehead - Male
 
 Bufflehead - Male
Bufflehead - Male
 
 Bufflehead - Female
 
Bufflehead - Female
 
Had a few Eared Grebes also playing diving games.  Usually the Bufflehead and Eared Grebes do not linger close to shore and allow people to approach very close, but on this day they seemed to be a bit more accommodating to me and my camera.
 
 Eared Grebe
 
 Eared Grebe
 
Eared Grebe
 
This has recently always been a good place to find a Common Gallinule.  They are a bit more interesting than the dozens of American Coots that are located here.
 
Common Gallinule
 
As a walked part of the trail a couple of female Northern Cardinals kept me entertained on some cholla cactus.
 
Northern Cardinal
 
Of course a couple of Ring-billed Gulls were making the rounds as well.
 
Rig-billed Gull
 
Before I left the area, I did a quick walk around the picnic area to see what might show up.  A Gray Flycatcher and a Gilded Flicker were nice additions to my daily list.
 
 Gilded Flicker
 
 Gilded Flicker
 
Gray Flycatcher
 
Probably the most enjoyable experience in the picnic area was my encounter with a Greater Roadrunner.  Not a rare bird by any means, but this one was quite the character for me.  I first saw it strolling through the grass about 30 yards away,  So I snuggled up close to one of the mesquite trees and watched it and was taking some not-so-great photos since it was so far away.  As I stood perfectly still, it turned in my direction and slowly made its way toward me.  Of course it knew I was there as it could here the clicking of the camera.  It finally got to within 10 feet of me, eyeing me and it was so close, I could not fit the entire bird into my camera frame.  I talked softly to it as it checked me out and once I felt that I had intruded enough on its turf, I slowly turned around and walked slowly away.  In checking back, it was not at all alarmed and did not take off running.  As I was driving out of the lot, it stopped one more time on a mound of earth for one last photo.  It is moments like this that I feel sometimes that I have connected with nature and a memory that I will never forget.
 
 Greater Roadrunner
 
 Greater Roadrunner
 
 Greater Roadrunner
 
 Greater Roadrunner
 
Greater Roadrunner
 
Might not have been any of the rarest or uncommon birds, but just getting out and connecting with nature was very uplifting.  Definitely not a wasted day!
 
 
 
 
 
 
  


2 comments:

  1. In 2015, what will we discover??? Beautiful captures of the Bufflehead. I still have a ways to go before I get the "perfect" shot of this bird. The lighting and coloring of this bird are so difficult!

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  2. Breathtaking photos Mr. Gordon, and some awesome birds to start off the year!!! I am glad you are over with the sickness.

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