Monday, December 31, 2012

More Birding from the Car(acara)

After spending the first hour or so cruising around the farm roads and chasing Larks, I eventually made my way to Baumgartner Road and the adjacent fields.  This is one of the most reliable areas to see winter-time Caracaras in Arizona, and is also a good spot for combine harrower harvesters, for you tractor watchers out there, and there are also plenty of pecan trees for you nuts. 

 The Caracaras combine forces with the Common Ravens and follow after the combine harvesters, pillaging any disturbed ground for the bugs and rodents as they scatter for safety. It's ruthlessly efficient hunting, everything you'd expect and hope for in a cool predator like the Caracara (yes, Ravens are cool too, but we've known that ever since Oden and Edgar Allen Poe popularized them in 2,000 b.c.)

Despite getting some glimpses of the Caracaras, I could not get close enough for satisfying photos. By this desire, I was forced to chase after the tractors too, looking for the birds that were chasing them, and they chased after the un-harvested crops. I'm sure someone or something was chasing me too, just to keep the chain going. That seems to be the way the universe works. 
Though still distant, one of the Caracaras did perch and pose for a pretty picture with part of Picacho Peak in the background.

While chasing around after the Caracaras and trying to respect the private property/no-trepsassing/we-will-shoot-you-on-sight signs, an old friend caught my eye. The consistently jaw-dropping Vermillion Flycatcher is certainly one of the birds that got me hooked on birding. Now that I was all grown up and chasing after Caracaras and Mountain Plovers, the Vermillion stopped by to remind me of my roots, to remember the classics.

It certainly was a time for some naval-gazing...

He stretched; I stretched; it was good to see this iconic flycatcher again. They're not uncommon in the bottom half of Arizona, but you never know when one will turn up again. He reminded me not to take em' for granted.

After spending some time with the Vermillion, I finally swung around the Baumgartner farms, on the east side of the cattle coral, and got some closer shots of the Crested Caracara. This is a bird that shows it's still possible to be a vulture and be beautiful, and not just beautiful in that wish-washy 'it's-what's-inside-that-counts sorts way, but in the much more important superficial first-impression sense.