It is an annual event in Arizona and one that I always thoroughly enjoy and this year was no exception; the AZFO (Arizona Field Ornithologists) annual meeting. A great place to meet new friends and touch base with some of the old friends that reside in other areas of the state and beyond. This year the meeting was being held in Show Low, in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona.
Early on Friday morning, birding pals, Tommy DeBardeleben and Mark Ochs, joined me in our weekend trek and we headed east and north to Show Low. Once we arrived in Show Low, we picked up Brian Ison and from there we traveled to Lyman Lake. It was on this stretch of road that we had a bit of misfortune; we got a flat tire. Indicator on my dash was stating low tire pressure so we stopped and sure enough, we heard air leaking. Once we dug out the spare after unloading the entire back to get to it, we got it on and proceeded the rest of the day on the donut tire. It succeeded in our quest for birding. For this Friday afternoon field trip, we met up with 4 others to scope out the birds at the lake. We saw a lot of good birds, but most of the viewing was by scope at a distance, so photos were not going to be possible. However, the pair of White-fronted Geese, that were flushed by a Northern Harrier on the far side of the lake, at least approached our location before heading north.
Greater White-fronted Geese
We did manage to find one bird that stumped me because I have never seen a juvenile of this species before and this is the time of the year that juveniles can appear to confuse a lot of birders. As usually is the case, many of these birding adventures can turn into a learning experience as this one did.
Horned Lark - Juvenile
Have to throw in a photo of an American Coot while I am at it. Yes, they are plentiful and can be seen just about anywhere, but they are not always shore line birds that are used to people and allow a close approach, so I always appreciate a chance at a good photo.
Saturday consisted of the all day meeting with many presentations of which some were awesome and very informative and one or 2 that I kind of lost interest in. But before the meeting started, we had some time to kill, so we stopped at Woodland Lake Park in Pinetop. This is one of the best places to find Lewis's Woodpeckers and I have sent many birders to this location to find this bird. Once again, we were not disappointed as we found several of these unique looking woodpeckers.
This place was swarming with Chipping Sparrows. Even though they are much more striking in their breeding plumage, they still have some nice marking in their winter plumage. The black line from the base of the bill through their eye and continuing beyond the eye, is one of the key identification marks for this species.
And who can resist of photo of a Pied-billed Grebe? They are just too cool and their chicks really unique.
Sunday we took part in another field trip and that will be covered in my next post.
And for those that are interested in the tire situation, we got back to Show Low and pulled into a Discount Tire store that appeared to be open with several people around and inside. But when checking the front door, it was locked and the sign indicated that they close at 6:00 pm and we arrived at 6:20. As we were preparing to leave, one young man from the work bay area came running out and offered to repair the flat (the screw was very obvious in the tread). He had it repaired and put back on my car in about 15 minutes and told me to go see the manager inside, so I did and had my credit card out to pay for the repair. The manager printed up at receipt with 'NO CHARGE'. That is amazing!!! I did find the young man that repaired the tire and made sure he got a nice tip. It is amazing that they cared enough to go the extra mile and helped me out when all of them probably wanted to get home on a Friday night. If you are even in Show Low, AZ and need anything related to tires, I highly recommend going to Discount Tires!