Brown Noddy

Brown Noddy

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Merry Month of May

May brings even warmer temperatures and more migrants.  But it also signals that summer is soon to arrive with its blistering triple digit temperatures in Arizona.  One has to take advantage of the nice weather whilst one can!  And these blog posts need to continue as it won't be long and I will be embarking on a new adventure outside of the Unites States.  More details will be provided at the end of this post.  

One of my trips in May involved a journey into northern Arizona and an oasis in the desert east of Flagstaff.  This jewel of a birding spot, Meteor Crater RV Park, was new to me, but I had heard of it in the past as it seemed to bring in some really special migrants every year.  This spring was no exception, as an Ovenbird made its appearance, and an invite from Barb Meding to join her on quest to see if we could locate this bird.  Ovenbird is not a life bird for me as it is fairly common in eastern US, but I had never been able to add it to my Arizona state list.  What a great place to bird and the hosts are very welcoming to birders.  Go inside and ask to go birding and they point you to the doors in the back and into the great little oasis they have created.


A Bendire's Thrasher was also a bit of a surprise at this location.  I was not aware that their breeding range extended that far north. 

Bendire's Thrasher

On the way home, we spent a short time looking for the Gray Catbird that had been reported in the Flagstaff area.

Gray Catbird

In addition to this trip up north, I also made a couple of 3 day trips.  The first trip was to Rancho El Aribabi in Sonora, Mexico, to assist in leading the Tucson Audubon Society's field trip to this magical place.  The location is only about 35 miles south of the US/Mexico border and many of the bird species are common with Arizona, but a couple of species are a bit more prevalent and easier to see and hear, namely, the Sinaloa Wren.  Was able to get a photo and also made a video on my cell phone just to capture its rich melodic song.  Not much to see on the attached video, but you can hear it clearly.

Sinaloa Wren

Click on this link:

Video and audio file of a Sinaloa Wren.

Other birds and arthropods are shown below.

 American Rubyspot

 Broad-billed Hummingbird

Painted Damsel - Beautiful and a first for me!

 Bullock's Oriole-Hate feeder shots, but sometimes you have to take advantage.

 Olive-sided Flycatcher

Sonoran Spotted Whiptail

The second trip in May, was a trip to Greenlee County, Arizona, that I led for the Maricopa Audubon Society.  We spent 3 days exploring some of the birding spots in Greenlee County, which is the most under-birded county in Arizona, mostly due to its location along the far eastern border with New Mexico.  

 Cedar Waxwing

 Olive Warbler

Vermilion Flycatcher - Female

This is the third year in a row that a Yellow-throated Vireo has returned to the same location in Arizona in Yavapai County.  It really does not belong here in the summer, as their normal range in the eastern half of the US.  Of course I had to chase it to add it to my Arizona list.

Yellow-throated Vireo - Rare for Arizona

The rest of my exploration time in May focused on local places, including my 'patch' area (South Mountain Park), where I go hiking to get some exercise and see what all kinds of natural flora and fauna I can find.  

 Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

 Adult Verdin with fledgling

 Loggerhead Shrike fledgling

White-winged Dove

Cordilleran Flycatcher


Antelope Ground Squirrel

Black-tailed Jackrabbit

 Springwater Dancer

Zela Metalmark

The month of May was a very busy, but a very rewarding month for getting out and exploring what nature has to offer in Arizona and Sonora.  

In July, I will be traveling to yet another international destination.  Obviously the focus of my destinations are centered around our wonderful avian friends in this world.  Ernie Welch and I decided on a trip to Ecuador this summer.  Ecuador is a country that is situated on the Equator and in size is about the size of the state of Nevada.  But it ranks high in bird species density; over 1600 species has been reported in this beautiful country.  Currently, my free time is spent in preparation for this exciting trip.  I hope to add a lot of new life birds to my list.    


Monday, June 4, 2018

Springtime in Arizona

Springtime in Arizona is much different than many other parts of the United States.  With the mild winter weather, many resident birds might start breeding as early as January leading one to think that Spring has arrived.  Migrating birds are a bit different and some species can start showing up in late February and into March.  And for some species some only start arriving in June such as the Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  The months of March through May is peak springtime arrival for most migrants and birding is at its best during that time frame.  Of course, the weather is most generally pretty mild and wonderful during this time which makes birding very enjoyable.

This blog post highlights some of the birding that I enjoyed during the month of April of 2018.  Photos include a lot of our regulars interspersed with a few rarities that were encountered along the way. Towards the end of the post are some butterflies that I enjoyed and a really pretty cool reptile that not many people get to see.

Black-throated Gray Warbler

 Grace's Warbler

Turkey Vulture

 Summer Tanager - Female

Summer Tanager - Male

House Wren

Palm Warbler - A rarity for Arizona

White-faced Ibis - Breeding Plumage

 Buff-breasted Flycatcher - An Arizona specialty

 Northern Pygmy-Owl

Red-faced Warbler

 Cooper's Hawk

 Rufous-backed Robin

Streak-backed Oriole - A rarity in the US.

Band-tailed Pigeons - Not an easy bird to find in Maricopa County, Arizona.

One of my days in April was spent on a Butterfly Field Trip which resulted in 3 new species of butterfly for me.

 California Patch

 Common Streaky-Skipper - A new species for me.

 Common Streaky-Skipper

 Elada Checkerspot

Great Purple Hairstreak - Another new species for me.

Mourning Cloak

 Desert Ironwood blossoms.  Very colorful and show why they are related to legumes. 

Filigree Skimmer

Greater Short-Horned Lizard - This one was a juvenile.

 The first of 2 Arizona Black Rattlesnakes

The second of 2 Arizona Black Rattlesnakes.