Sunday, November 9, 2014

Bosque Birds and Caring-Caras

This Sunday was a slow day's birding, but hey it's Sunday, whadda ya expect? I was joined by Indiana birder and friend Alex Capaldi for some target birding in the pleasant weather, as we strove best we could to ignore the impending duties of Monday's work. Given the day and date, most of our targets for the day were long-shots, but we came away with a few solid sightings and a feeling of success, even if the photos say otherwise. 
November is a time to appreciate the residents again. The winterfowl have not all arrived nor are in their dapper suits, so it's back to the bosque birds and their never-ending quest to embody all the manifestations of brownish gray.  

Those birds that are even thornier than their perches do not have to be quite so camouflaged, more's the pleasure for the rest of us. As always, I scoped around to try and find this Shrike's larder, which should be well-stocked considering winter's approach. It was well hidden, or else this bird has a Plan B (like just treating Arizona winter as it would any other season).

Townsend's Warblers and a late Blue Grosbeak made for some of the prettier sightings. One of our target areas was the Santa Cruz flats, a great wintering ground for raptors and Mountain Plover. Despite scanning all of the sod fields we couldn't turn up the MOPLs, though Pipits and Horned Larks kept us company, along with a surprisingly small and quiet number of Killdeer, one of the birds with the most disproportionate prettiness vs. disliked-by-birders ratios (very pretty, very disliked).

The MOPLs are a fickle bunch, on top of being well-camouflagged on their barren terrain. The Caracaras in the area are more reliable, as well as conspicuous. We counted six of these Falco-Vultures in total, though most were far away behind the Baumgartner corral, protected by a very aggressive, grumpy defender of private dirt lots (whom I did not provoke this time). We did find a star-crossed pair in the fallow grasses, being all brooding and lovely.

This last photo encapsulates the feeling of many the Sunday evening for me.
This week should provide some time for patch-birding; it's time to record some ducks and get that list up to 40 species, fingers and feathers crossed! Merry birding to all, and to all...merry birding.