Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Coming and Going at the Ranch

I stopped by the Gilbert Water Ranch for a few hours of birding on Saturday. As expected, the place is teeming with White-crowned Sparrows, far more numerous than the combined waterfowl or even Great-tailed Grackle/House Sparrow/Starling/Pigeon combination of sooty city birds. It's a tough call whether or not the Sparrows or the Waterfowl are a more exciting aspect of autumn. I guess for now it's the Sparrows, since there are still new Sparrows for me to see in Phoenix but I'm got most of the expected ducks covered. At any rate, let me both apologize and warn that you'll likely be seeing lots of these White-crowns in the next few months.

The Water Ranch has played host to some interesting migrants/vagrants the last week or two. I dipped on the female Chestnut-sided Warbler there (which is still around, apparently) but did see a pair of American Redstarts. Warblers are hard enough to photograph and rarer Warblers all the more so. Instead I came away with shots of this mangy young male Costa's Hummingbird. Costa's Hummers aren't rare, but they're not overly common, especially late in October.

I think the white thing on the leaf is pocket lint, or maybe wadded up spider web. Always nice to see these guys, especially amidst the inundation of Anna's around Phoenix.

The Costa's Hummer looked very dainty, very petit atop its little leaf. This Great Egret, in contrast, looked chunky and uncomfortable. Come to think of it, Great Egrets often look this way.

And here is perhaps the only stage of the Black-crowned Night Heron life cycle wherein the bird is actually camouflaged. Clearly he thought it was a good-enough disguise to sit out in the open, which is pretty uncharacteristic for the GWR Night Herons.

There wasn't a whole lot to show for the trip, but it'll get me through the week. My two month loan Swarovski nocs' should arrive this week and I'm going to take them and a buddy to Tres Rios next Saturday. I expect it will ruin me.