Monday, March 2, 2015

Play the Hand You're Dealt...or play Tama-Gucci

This past Saturday was, like deep-sea fishing bait, cold and overcast. This was less ideal for birding, especially since it meant that whatever stuff I did see I would likely struggle to capture in any worthwhile way. I figured it was a good day, therefore, to chase some county birds for which I had not yet bothered when given sunny days and other opportunities. There has been a Brown Thrasher--annual vagrant in AZ--hanging out in Gilbert for a few months, but as this is a yard bird in Carolina, I had not bothered with the skulker. I set out resolute on Saturday morning to make the most of the day, to play the hand I was dealt. However, a breathtaking car reminded me on the way that maybe one doesn't have to play by the rules of the game...or perhaps if that game is lame, you can invent your own? I dunno, but there's a message here somewhere.

"I bet people will finally take me seriously if I paint my Trans Am 3 colors and cover it in Gucci emblems...pretty damn seriously indeed." : ::snap snap:: :
I'll name my car Guccifer

The Gilbert Water Ranch is super Gucci for high diversity and species counts. With all the waterfowl and waders around, plus a few early migrants, it took very little time to affirm and validate the decision to get out of bed. Typical Gucci scenes from the GWR: Avocets mingling with itchy Shovelers while NECOs stick their heads in various places.

Like the awesome car before, this Redhead is predominantly tri-toned. It's missing the Gucci paraphernalia though, so it's still kind of dorky. This sort of cool color/lack-of-decal dichotomy is common among the other plentiful ducks in the area. There are also lots of domesticated Mallards, Chinese Geese, and other abominations that people actively feed. This is less Gucci. 

I know it's silly of me to be bemoaning cloudy weather when most of the U.S. is six feet under (snow), but I've decided to live like a Gucci s.o.b. so I don't even care : ::snap snip snap:: : To add insalt (get it?) to injury, here are some birds that are already nesting in central Arizona. There is one saguaro, where the GIWPs were setting up nice Gucci interiors, the MODOs never nest in public without their Gucci blue eyeliner, and the CBTH was doing something too (and was too high to photograph on the nest).

Those who live the Gucci life live the good life. Contrast a dapper, Guccilicious Anna's with the world's lumpiest, most Gucci-less Inca Dove below. And who gets more cred on the street? Well, if you don't give the ANHUs respect they'll mess you up.

It took a while at the GWR but I finally got a 2 second audience with His Royal Highness the King of Skulking BRTH. I was not figuring I'd get shots of this bird, nor was it even much of a highlight compared to a few FOY warblers. At this point it's kind of embarrassing that my Maricopa list still hasn't broken 300, and this needs to be remedied with otherwise unappealing birds like Brown Thrasher. (Don't get me wrong, I love Thrashers and BRTH is a beaut, but it's not really worth the trouble other than for the tick in AZ, when they're so crushable out east).

By 9am there was intermittent, light precipitation, and I was a bit surprised to note that this seemed to increase overall bird activity. The colors on all of the birds were very saturated, but as they were still moving at normal speed and the ol' crusty Sony-cam shutter was not, we had a conflict of interest. Perhaps paradoxically, the best subject of the day was one of the smallest and fastest. Very Gucci.

Sunday showed clear skies out east in Willcox, AZ, where a vagrant Red Phalarope had been hanging out for a few days. Having this future trip decreased the pressure, barometric and otherwise, on precious Saturday. Willcox is always good for a few birds right? Well, for the preview, it's always good for speeding tickets.