Sunday, September 29, 2013

Keeping it Local

It has been unusually nice in Phoenix these last several days. People are kinder and more cordial. The dogs bark less; the cats purr more. The raging cold fronts that are turning up Blue-footed Boobies all over California haven't been quite so generous farther inland, but they have at least dropped the temperature in the valley about ten or fifteen degrees lower than expected. 
Birds, beasts, beetles, and birders alike have been loving it, even if the end-of-summer rarities are starting to drop off now.

This past weekend I did some local birding in the valley, getting some photos of the usual suspects in early mornin' light and loving the lack of 7am perspiration.

The late August/early September time frame brings lots of great chases. Errant pelagic birds, wayward warblers, and peregrinating passerines pull birders with the requisite time and gas money to all the corners of their states. In the southwestern U.S., this also often demands an endurance of the states' most unpleasant weather.
After participating during that high-paced, high intensity interval, it was very nice to tour around some of the regular spots and reacquaint with the Sonoran staples. The Greater Roadrunner and the Cactus Wren, luckily, are not jealous birds. They will still be visible and vociferous when one comes back from the Santa Ritas or from Lake Havasu, and just want a nice birding jaunt around the park.

Gnatcatchers are not jealous either. In fact, they're one of the more oblivious species around town, which is perhaps in part why they dress so very indistinguishably. Find a clump of creosote bushes and you will find a clump of Gnatcatchers, probably with a few Black-throated Sparrows too.

Inca Doves are pretty accommodating as well, even grandmotherly. However, they tend to be more suspicious around the nest (who isn't?). What exactly is going on here?

"None of your business..."

Gila Woodpeckers are the great housing contractors of the American southwest. Though they sometimes nest in mesquite and palo verde trees, just about all of the holes one observes in saguaro cacti are Gila handiwork. All the Elf Owls, Starlings, Lovebirds, House Sparrows, Screech Owls, Jones, Smiths, Rabinowitzes, and Johnsons of the neighborhood have Gila Woodpeckers to thank for their domiciles.

Much like an angsty Kingfisher, September has flown by pretty quickly. A few more weeks and it'll be time to start scanning the big lakes for Gulls. Before that next great stage of annual chasing takes off, I'll be enjoying the Phoenix locals for a little while.
I don't even remember the last time I stopped and photographed a Lesser Goldfinch--I think it's been close to two years. On any given Saturday, they're out and about when I leave, and they'll be there when I return. Thanks Lesser Goldfinch, you're Greater in my book.