Monday, May 2, 2016
Another Chase in Arizona
I have been very negligent in updating my blog site with anything current. It has been well over a month since I have contributed anything to this venture. It is not that I have not been doing anything, Au contraire! In fact, what I have discovered that being retired, I am busier than when I was employed. But it is a good kind of busy, because now, I can pursue the things I want to do, like birding and enjoying nature.
On March 24, 2016 a rare bird, a Rose-throated Becard was discovered in Graham County at Cluff Ranch which is south of the small town of Pima. This spot is about a 2½ hour drive from Mesa. Great birding friend Muriel Nedermeyer contacted me the day after it was discovered to see if I would be interested in chasing it the next day and of course I said yes. I had seen this bird, male and female, in Chiapas, Mexico in July of 2015, so it would not be a life bird for me, but it would definitely be a solid United States, ABA, and Arizona bird for me. So we quickly made plans to depart early the next morning. We arrived nice and early and met up with Jeff Coker, a local that was already there, and he had not yet seen it. He had seen it the day before and explained to us where it was seen and what trees it was favoring. Before too long, 2 more birders showed up looking for it as well. The group split up a bit to watch for it in different areas. It was about an hour and 45 minutes after we arrived that Muriel spotted it up in a tree. She was quick to get me on it and then we both yelled out to the others that we had found the bird. We were desperately trying to keep tabs on it as they ran to get to our area. It went deeper into the trees and it finally flew out the backside of one of the trees and we lost it again.
The good news was that we knew that it was still there and had not departed to places unknown. Once again the 5 of us spread out in trying to locate it. After about a half hour one of them came back to us at the original spot and said that he had relocated it and showed us some photos that he took of it. He then advised us where he found it and then he left. At least it gave us hope that it was still around.
With the sun coming up it started getting warm and and we started shedding some layers of clothing. In the process of this, Jeff called out that he had relocated the bird, so I took off on a run and got there in time to snap a couple of quick photos. Definitely a bird worthy of a chase!
That was the last that we saw that bird that day. This bird stayed around for several more days and thanks to our reports, many more birders traveled to Cluff Ranch and were able to see it and add it to their lists.
During all the time we spent looking and waiting for this wonderful bird, we were entertained by many other birds and when a Lucy's Warbler decided to get a drink and take a bath in the stream of water, I could not resist snapping a couple of photos.
Cluff Ranch is located on the north side of Mt Graham which is one of the highest peaks in the infamous 'Sky Islands' of Arizona. At an elevation of 10,720 feet, it naturally gets snow every winter in Arizona and the road to the top is closed in winter because of the snow.
This is a beautiful place with some incredible biodiversity and offers some great birding and so much more with nature. Always a great place to visit.