This blog is all about our birding adventures.
Since our last blog post, we’ve visited the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum a half a dozen times. We book the 8:30 time slot, when it’s not at all busy. We wear our masks the whole time we’re there, even when we’re completely alone. Here’s a view of the entrance to the cactus garden in the morning light.
When there aren’t many people around, it’s ideal for taking photos of birds.
We were lucky to get a long viewing of this Canyon wren. We were surprised to see it there. Usually we hear them when we’re hiking in the mountains and we might catch a glimpse of them on the rocks.
One morning, a maintenance worker alerted us to the location of a Great horned owl.
This Hermit thrush posed in the sunshine.
This male Northern cardinal hopped along the walk and we were able to creep up closer and closer.
We also had plenty of good views of the javelinas.
We’re usually leaving the museum by 10:00, when the next group of visitors are arriving. We’re making good use of our season pass.
Another birding spot that’s really close to us is the Santa Cruz River at Ina, where we had seen the Northern Jacana in December. We returned in January and this rare bird was still hanging out there. Doug was lucky enough to catch it moving its wing to show the flashy yellow flight feathers.
Doug caught this Great Egret just as it was landing.
Another time, a flock of little birds perched for a few moments in a nearby tree and Doug’s photo allowed us to identify the Lawrence’s Goldfinches. They have been known to winter around Tucson, but they are usually seen in Southern California.
And we got a good look at the resident Great Blue Heron.
There is also a Green Heron that hangs out under the bridge. After the heavy rains, the concrete drop resembled a waterfall and it seemed happy to stand in the spray.
We also went to the Sweetwater Wetlands several times. This January view reminds me of the colours in September at home in BC.
This Greater Roadrunner was out near the parking lot one morning.
Reid Park is in the middle of Tucson, so it’s about a half hour drive for us, but still pretty local. We got a good look at this female or immature male Summer Tanager…
…and our first ever sighting of a Cassin’s Kingbird.
We saw a Greater Pewee at the same park last year, but this time it wasn’t as high up in the trees. Notice how bright the underside is of its two-toned bill.
There were at least thirty Neotropic Cormorants perching along the pond edge. Here’s a close up view of one of them. That eye is amazing!
One January morning, we left before sunrise for a two hour drive southeast to Willcox because we wanted to see the Sandhill Cranes take flight. As we approached Willcox, we saw thousands of cranes in the air and we thought maybe we were too late. We arrived at Lake Cochise (a fancy name for a waste-water pond) around 8:00, and there were still at least two thousand cranes hanging out.
We were the only people there on that cold morning. The pond was mostly frozen. Doug took over a hundred photos. Here he is in action.
Here’s a flock of Sandhill Cranes lifting off. They circled around and headed for their feeding grounds.
Doug caught this group as they flew by. By nine o’clock, almost all of them had left.
After we checked out the birds at the nearby golf course pond, we drove south to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area near McNeal. We arrived around 11:30, just as thousands of cranes were wheeling down from the sky.
Here’s a photo of the sign, if you’d like more information.
Once the cranes landed, they didn’t do much, except make a racket. It was impossible to count how many were there, perhaps 20,000 or more. And it was also impossible to capture them in one photo. There was also a flock of about 50 Snow Geese in among them.
And there were some waterfowl close to the edge of the pond. Here’s a male Green-Winged Teal.
This male Northern Shoveler was waddling along the ice. We don’t often get a view of the whole bird like this.
On another day, we drove south about an hour to Tubac. We’d been there a couple of times last year, hoping to see a Rose-throated Becard, without success. Again the becard stayed hidden, but we had an enjoyable outing and saw over thirty species.
Doug took this photo of a Gray Flycatcher. Gray Flycatchers have the distinctive habit of wagging their tail gently downward.
We hope you’ve enjoyed all these bird photos. Next month’s blog is likely to have just as many. Birding in Arizona is amazing!