Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Local, Organic, non-GMO: Birding

Ah, to be young and unencumbered again...those halcyon days when I could go birding any day of the week and crank out 160+ blogposts a year. Of course, being poor and de-facto celibate wasn't great during all the non-birding time (not that Butler's Birds is rolling in dough now--still waiting for the big Bird Blog corporate sponsorships to come through...err hem...Swarovski...), but it did have its appeals, not a perpetual weekend so much as a perpetual casual Hawaiian-shirt-and-jeans Friday.
I reminisce now, with a 45+ hour-a-week job and a full-blown toddler, another on the way. These are all things for which I am grateful. These are all things that make the birding pastime a bit complicated, and bring in to sharpest relief the appeals and the necessities of patch birding. They say necessity is the mother of invention. Case in point: scarce insects in winter necessitate normally insectivorous birds feeding on the ground like Towhees.  

When it comes to birding and balancing other obligations, necessity is also the mother of appreciation. Over the Holidays I followed other's exciting starts to 2019's 5MR Challenge while visiting family back in Arizona, unable to kickstart my own local birding but increasingly jazzed about doing so. It also kept me engaged in Phoenix, just around the neighborhood, to get the most out of what was there. I walked the dog; I walked the toddlers: I walked the grandparents; I walked the great grandparents; I feigned indigestion and walked myself. (Ok...I feigned nothing). I birded light, and without much depth or promise but I birded often. Hummingbirds stay busy in the same bailiwick and they seem pretty laid back, right? Right??

I also managed to get out proper for a few hours one morning and hit up an old haunt with Pops. At the Riparian Preserve in Gilbert we logged 67 species by 10:30am. This is not to brag about anything--for one that's a usual day and, for two, bragging about bird numbers is pretty lame. It is to--only for a moment--bemoan that in my 5MR I'm at 53 species, total, for the year.
Highlights were finding Fox Sparrow and Cedar Waxwings at the site, which are uncommon in the valley, and of course reminding myself how Good it is to be out doing dedicated bird-sleuthing on a crisp morning.

But the most satisfying experience from this here-and-there birding (How's that for a blog name: Here and There Birding?) was actually a neighborhood find of my Dad's. 

There's been an Acorn Woodpecker wintering a few houses down, in some out-of-the-way royal palms where there is ample storage space. In case you're wondering yes, I did walk backyards 130 yards down the street while maintaining steady eye contact (couldn't risk a Gila running it off and exchanging places, obvi) so as to claim this bird, officially and legitimately, from the yard list. 

I wouldn't think of royal palms as being any sort of vagrant/migrant trap, but another traditionally northern woodpecker from years before would says otherwise. They have their, err hem, niche.

At any rate, hopes springs eternal and I am now back in action in Wayne, NC, leaving no stone unturned in a quest to post the biggest, best, baddest 5MR I can --and also, most of all, enjoy regular birding. 

P.S. Leaving all stones overturned, has, thus far, a 0% correlation to finding birds.