Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Week in SE AZ

Sorry for the silence during the AZ trip. Internet service was spotty at best most of the places we stayed... which included Portal, Sierra Vista, Patagonia, Madera Canyon and Tucson (where we are now!). While the trip was a success, I think both Holly and I believe we fell a bit short of what we expected count-wise. While we are still ID-ing some birds, we're going to end up somewhere around 40 new species for the trip. Things started off great in Portal, adding the Red-faced Warbler and Olive Warbler at Rustler's Park. We dipped on the Mexican Chickadee however. Another group that was there (Hi Helen & Co.!) also missed on it. The other miss that comes to mind is the Juniper Titmouse. We had one VERY briefly in Paradise, but nowhere near enough time to get glass on it. Paradise, and the fine folks at George Walker House (Hi Winston, Jackie & Co.!), did give Holly this opportunity.

Holly and friend.
It was banding day the day of our visit. Holly was able to hold this female Magnificent Hummingbird for around four to five minutes before one of the banders took her back, fed her and set her free. A very cool experience. Paradise also is where we added our orioles - Scott's and Bullock's.

The Huachucas proved a good hike, but didn't turn up anything unique. We heard, but did not see, Elegant Trogon here. The walk at Gordon Lewis' property got us a Burrowing Owl. At Ash Canyon B&B (Hi Mary Jo!), we added Lazuli Bunting and Costa's Hummingbird. A trip up Ramsey Canyon netted a Sonoran Whip Snake, but no new birds. We opted out of the Miller Canyon trek for Spotted Owl due to the lack of morning success the day we were there. Of course, the owl was 'spotted' the next day.

Patagonia Lake State Park was a bird bust, but the rest area yielded the first of many Phainopepia and Lucy's Warblers. At Madera Canyon, we were greeted at Santa Rita Lodge by a gaggle of Wild Turkeys and more hummers. Day 1 up the canyon got us our first glimpse of Elegant Trogon, but no usable photo (at least not in good conscience). We did get Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers here. Later in Florida Canyon we dipped on the Rufous-capped Warblers (as did others), but did manage Band-tailed Pigeon, Cactus Wren and Varied Bunting here. Day 2 in Madera Canyon got us the Trogon photo we needed, but little else. 

The star of the show...
We're heading back to Houston tomorrow. Word is going around about a possible Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Anahuac... and a Bulbul near my office. Gotta love Texas!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hosting 'Big Year' brethren

This past weekend, Holly and I played host to Eddie and Liam Ehrman - the father/son Big Year team that is making a run at the ABA record for North America. We met Eddie and Liam in Minnesota at the Sax-Zim Bog Birding Festival in February. It was there that we offered up our Houston-based digs for any of the 'Big Year' birders in attendance (There were several.) that planned a trip to Texas for spring migration. It was a short stay, but Eddie and Liam we able to add 30-plus birds, including some shorebirds that would be difficult to chase elsewhere. 

We paid a visit to Sabine Woods to get the Tropical Mockingbird. He was an easy mark on Saturday, but the horse flies made the stay a brief one. We also stopped in Anahuac for looks at White-rumped Sandpipers and Wilson's Phalaropes... then Smith Oaks for a few warblers before hitting Roll-over Pass and Bolivar Flats for good looks at Black Terns and Red Knots among others.

Holly bids 'bon voyage' at IAH to our Cincinnati connection.
Sunday, we drove out to Katy Prairie and were able to get our guests a few ducks and more shorebirds. Eddie also believed we may have found every Dickcissel on planet Earth! All in all, it was a great weekend with a pair of new friends. 

As for our count, we didn't do too shabby either. We added 10 new birds to our flickr stream. We're closing in on 300 and expect to reach and exceed that prior to heading out to Arizona in less than two weeks!