Saturday, March 3, 2012

Play It Through--Birds on the Golf Course

Why is it that when something is "sub par" it's bad. If you hit under par in golf, aren't you doing really well? Anyway, I made a quick trip out to the Encanto golf course on Friday afternoon for some par birding. The usual Lovebirds and Grackles were out and about, along with the now well-established Lewis's Woodpecker. These two Eurasian Collared Doves were a new edition to the scene. My first sighting of these chalky doves was at the Gilbert Ranch in September, but they seem to have gone on an offensive since then and have spread over much of the Phoenix area now.

There's a tall, mostly leafless eucalyptus tree along the fairway of Hole 8 at the Encanto course. It's a pretty good spot for raptors, and I've seen Kestrels, Red-Tails, and Coopers all perched there at one time or another. On Friday it was this sharp-looking Harris's Hawk.

Just as I got into position with sun behind me, she leapt from her perch with a burst of energy. The speed and force of her departure took my autofocus and me by surprise.

As she spread her wings the rufous shoulders and legs, as well as the white on the tail all became very clear. With her talons out, I wondered at what she was lounging with such quick determination.

Yep, all that build-up and she just hopped over to the other branch about two feet away. Oh well, I get fidgety too sometimes. It was interesting to note how extra puffy and disheveled the white feathers were on the underside of the tail. I wonder if this means she's been sitting on eggs/raising a brood nearby. That's my best guess. Cool bird, one of my favorite hawks.

I actually saw this Vermillion Flycatcher Saturday morning. He was too far away for a nice picture, but in a way the distance is more telling. There are few birds that one can identify so quickly and surely from far away as the full-plumage male Vermillion. I'm hoping to see and photograph lots more as they return from Mexico.