Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cling Well Drill Well Sap Well Stay Well

It was a rip roaring Thursday afternoon at the new work patch as I added no less than five new birds to the patch list, bringing the total up to a staggering 26 species! Yes indeed, with clutch finds of Eurasian Collared Dove, House Finch, and Northern Mockingbird, I pushed solidly past two dozen. This is more than likely about as far as I'll get until some more Swallows, Nighthawks, and WW Doves show up along the canal in a month.

Too much sarcasm, or even irony, like too many Blackbirds, if off putting though; I did return to the the work patch for other reasons than pursuing a few overstated, cheap ticks. I had a small but lingering desire to give the SRP Falls and Herberger Park a quick going over for a couple of months, ever since taking an AMSP/FOAL break there with another employee before a summit meeting. 

While we were unscrupulously indulging in good ol' fashioned American vices in the afternoon, I noticed firstly that there were plenty of pine trees at the park--not a given around Phoenician parks and a favorite of some birds--and that many of the Australian bottle trees were absolutely riddled with holes.

There are only but one of a few possibilities for how a proud bottle tree such as this could become so porous, and since I didn't see any OCD kids with pellet guns hanging out in the park, I deduced that it must have, in fact, been some sort of Sapsucker. Pretty clever eh? 
Red-naped, of course, would be the only real suspect, but even with that being the only possible (and Yellow-bellied does tend to drift a lot) Sapsucker in Phoenix, it's a decent find for the central city given the small amount of woodlands. Upon returning to Herberger Park on Thursday I soon found the freshest looking sapwells, and soon after found the culprit.

Caught red-handed!...err red-naped!

There were two birds, both males, from what I observed in about thirty minutes. The conspicuous red on the napes immediately ruled out any possibility of Yellow-bellied (also known as the "for lack of any other obvious distinction" Sapsucker), but it's still a pretty gorgeous bird and certainly the most solid find thus far at my dinky little work patch. I dig how the red on the nape is very haphazard, like whoever was designing this bird just gave up towards the end and stopped coloring in the lines.

Apart from the presence (or not) of red on the nape, the black malar border on the RNSA is thinner and doesn't extend all along the red throat to keep it from meeting the white face paint. That black malar border is much more distinct on a Yellow-bellied, which I'll still hold out hope to see here some day.

It was a quick jaunt before I had to be back at work, but on the way to the car I snagged another tick for the patch list as it patrolled the canal. It's up to Prescott this weekend to see who's hanging out where there's some decently cool whether.