Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bottom of the Barrel Birding

Sitting here on a pleasant Sunday evening, I'm wondering where the weekend went. For what reason or to what purpose I cannot say, but a combination of general enervation, carry over from the work week, less than ideal weather, and some continuing car problems kept me from my cathartic weekend birding outings. By evening time I was finally able to go out for an hour or two, but there is probably no worse time to go birding in the central Phoenix area than on a Sunday afternoon with pleasant temperatures. 
I tried Papago Park, the Botanical Garden, and Tempe Town Lake, only to be repulsed from all three by the overwhelming numbers of people who beat me to it, fishing poles, strollers, and novelty flying discs in hand. Of course, it is a great thing that so many people are out enjoying all the parks, but for my purposes it was somewhat bothersome.
I should've known the short-span birding would be pretty terrible when the first non-columbid bird I found was a this floater:

Judging from the long tail, I'd say a Neotropic Cormorant. I especially like the grisly algae growths covering one of the feet. It must've taken a while for those growths, which means this fella has been floating for a while. Even the normal aquatic carrion feeders were being lazy, or else there is no fouler meet than Cormorant.

 It wasn't just that the birds themselves were being withholding--although they were--the Tempe Lake pedestrian bridge was being patrolled back and forth by a ferocious gang of segway riders, each of whom was more ferocious and intimidating than the last. The last two guys in this line don't even have to stand up straight to ride so, you know, they're pretty good.

The heavy foot and segway traffic drove me down into wash west of the floating dams, where there is little water, little soil, and little birding to be done--a somewhat disappointing circumstance seeing as the area itself is pleasant.

A Black Phoebe and some Killdeer where stretching out their vocals in the gloam, and a single Eared Grebe, perhaps equally put-off by all the people up higher, and retreated to these surprisingly shallow waters.

I'm doubly motivated to get some higher altitude Prescott birding in next weekend so, and then it'll be a push to mid-March spring break and some time, between writing evaluations, to head back down south. Hopefully that Sinaloa Wren is still around...
In the mean time, can the new work patch make it up to 30 species??? Odds are 7 to 1 against, but taking all bets!