Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Most Unusual Outing

I did not accumulate much material for a blogpost this past weekend, other than this ever-lovely Painted Redstart, but the paucity of weekend photos did not damage my calm, for an exciting an unorthodox WEEKDAY birding adventure beckoned.

I met up with Tommy Debardeleben and Josh Wallestad--who just couldn't resist the Phoenix bird scene as advertised by our blogs any more--on Wednesday evening at Coon Bluff for some seasonal owling. As temperatures warm, this mesquite-bosque and saguaro habitat becomes excellent for Elf, Western Screech, and Great-horned Owls, as well as Common Poorwill and Lesser Nighthawk.

When the sun goes down, the cacophony begins. Before 8pm we had multiple vocalizing Poorwills and WESO, although I unluckily had to leave before the super-crushy chance on WESO came later in the evening. Nocturnal birding, as one might expect, is a different beast from day birding. Vocalizations are not just important, they are essential, especially when one is trying to find tiny 6-inch Owls in dense mesquite scrub.

The calling WESOs led us on a goose chase for a while (which is not the right sort of chase to be on after dark) before we eventually moved to an area better for Elves. Nocturnal birding is also aided by numbers of people, which we had, and good lighting equipment, which I do not have. Even so we eventually earned some nice looks at Elf Owls and the other fellas crushed WESO later in the evening, which came nicely after crushing hard on Whiskered Screech the day before.

There was also this mouse.

With Conn Bluff being a 25 minute drive from home, the weather being so mild, and the the Owls being so sweet, this might have to become a regular thing. Next time I'm coming with flash grenades.