Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sunset Birds and Song Sparrows

Last week I made the rash decision to dash and see a vagrant Purple Gallinule at the Gilbert Water Ranch on Sunday evening. This immature bird had been spotted off and on at one of the GWR ponds for the last few days and would've been another sweet lifer after the Glendale Spoonbill. So, putting off work and other responsibilities I drove out to Gilbert, with my optimism fading alongside the sun. This was one of those, "I know this is a dumb idea, but I'm doing it anyway. Why am I doing it anyway? I don't know, but you're here now so stop talking to yourself and look for the Gallinule! You're a jerk. No, you're a jerk!" moments. The Gallinule didn't show that evening, for me or the other few birders around. To add insult to injury, there were mosquitos EVERYWHERE. I hadn't really thought about that being a problem, but with all the standing water at the was bad.

Anyway, while dipping on the Gallinule I did get to enjoy another Arizona sunset and photograph some of the usual suspects in their shallow basins. The reflective water and technicolored light seemed to turn everything upside down. I may also have been in a state of mild delirium due to severe blood loss.

These Long-billed Dowitchers were tucking in for the night, caring not a wit about any nearby Gallinules or Nihilist Mosquitos (as in, they might've been carrying West Nile virus).

No Gallinules here...

This White-faced Ibis, an ancient and learned creature, was probably the highlight of the evening. They're just cool birds. With his timeless wisdom, he probably definitely knew where the Gallinule was, but would not say.

In order to see the Gallinule, I'd have to find a good spot and wait. This is easier said than done in general, and with the bugs around, I wasn't feeling very sanguine--though I do enjoy a good double entendre.

While sitting in my squalid state, a Song Sparrow hopped by very close, like close enough that I could've touched him. He kept me company for a few minutes before passing on. It was too dark out to take any reasonable photos, but it was a nice gesture from the Song Sparrow ambassador. It reminded me also that I had seen the different regional subspecies of Song Sparrows too, except for Pacific-Northwest, which was a neat realization. Below are three photos. One Song Sparrow is from the Pacific Coast, one is from the Southwest, and one is Eastern-race. Can you place all three?