Sunday, May 25, 2014

California Condors May 21, 2014 Marble Canyon Az.

On our way down to Texas in March we stopped off at Marble Canyon Arizona.  Two bridges cross the Colorado River here.  One is for automobile traffic and an older bridge is only used for foot traffic.  This is the start of the Grande Canyon.  We hoped to see California Condors roosting on the bridges but although we spent the night at the local motel to catch the evening and morning we had no luck.  An excellent photographer, Tara Tanaka of Florida, had captured a great shot of a Condor here earlier and her picture had me inspired. See her excellent shots here;                                                        When we were ready to head home from Green Valley, Arizona, we saw a report of the condors roosting again on the bridges.  This determined our return route back to British Columbia.  We were glad we decided to try again.  The birds have pulled back from near extinction in 1982 of 22 individuals to a little over 400 now.  There is a breeding facility in Idaho where 50 birds produce about a dozen hatchings a year.
I thought this looked like young bird and found it was hatched May 3 2011.  It is a male that has not developed the bright colours on the head yet.
He was rubbing his neck on the bridge girder and seemed to be regurgitating.  These birds are released close to this location at Vermilion Cliffs.
30 was hatched July 31, 2009 but was released Nov 8, 2011.  I wonder why it took 3 years?  F1 is the bird closest and he was hatched Apr 28 2007.  All 3 birds are male.
F1 wanted to join the other bird so he used his beak like a parrot to get across the girder,
A closer view.
With a little wing flapping he made it.

F1 settled in with his partner who didn't seem to appreciate the extra company.
So 30 took off and F1 was right with him.  
They started putting on a show for me.
They flew over me and through the girders of the bridges.
They circled against the walls of the canyon.
They came straight at me at times.
Here F1 shows a bare breast bone.  If he wasn't a male I would have sworn it was a brood patch.  (Or maybe males have brood patches? )
Both birds seemed to enjoy a bit of flight synchronization.  Both birds had very worn feathers.

They seemed to be including me in their antics.
F1 flying under the bridge below me.

Finally one of them got bored and in a few minutes was out of sight up the canyon while the other one flew back to the bridge and joined 19.  All the information on birds was obtained from the Peregrine Fund website-(

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Birding Arizona May 14-18 2014 Miller and Ash Canyon-featuring Montezuma Quail

      And the birding goes on.  After hearing a Buff-collared Nightjar a few times in the evening at Madera Canyon, Dian and I decided to see what was happening in the morning.  We arrived at the site on Proctor Road, (where we had heard it before), at 6AM and heard it calling right away.  The sun was just rising and it was calling consistently, close to the road.  I got a poor glimpse of it as it flew off, flying low to the ground. It was also on the ground when it took off.  I reported this on the Arizona birding site and apparently a Mockingbird may have been imitating its' call as Nightjars are not known to sing during daylight hours.  The birds flight was not indicative of a Mockingbird which would fly further off the ground.  We birded other areas and came back to the car at 8:00AM and heard the call one more time.  We waited for about 30 minutes but didn't hear it again.  After hearing, briefly seeing the bird and weighing the possibilities of a Nightjar and an imitating Mockingbird sharing the exact same territory I will stick to my initial conclusion that this was a Buff-collared Nightjar.  Now if I could have only got a picture...
      We got our lifer Montezuma Quail last week up Miller Canyon.  I didn't get a chance for a picture so we headed out there again. and were on the trail at 6AM.  We were about an hour out when we just weren't having any luck so we turned around and started back.  Then we heard a Quail call.  We figured out where the sound was coming from and just watched the hillside.  Then we saw movement.  The pictures are below.
      The Quail bought a trip total to 311.
White-eared Hummingbird Beatty's B&B.  We met Gavin Bieber (a bird guide with clients) here.  We last saw Gavin in March while birding Texas.
Broad-billed Hummingbird Ash Canyon.
Another view of the Broad-billed Hummingbird.
Mexican Spotted Owl Miller Canyon.  Must have had a hard night.
Mexican Jay Ash Canyon
Curve-billed Thrasher Ash Canyon
Anna's Hummingbird Ash Canyon.  Looks weird-see next pix.  The forehead is also red but does not show it here because of the way the sun is hitting it.  I have another photo showing this but it was not of good quality.
Anna's Hummingbird taken outside our condo back home for comparison.  
Orange-crowned Warbler.  Mt. Lemmon
White-breasted Nuthatch Mt. Lemmon.  We didn't see any new birds here but the temperature was great.
Summer Tanager Madera
Cassin's Vireo Madera

The following pictures are all of the Montezuma's Quail
The Quail was about 50 yards away and this is an un-cropped picture.
Cropped.  I have a 300MM lens.
Tighter crop.  I had left my 1.4 teleconverter at home.
This is one good looking bird. 
I believe the time was about 7AM.
This was the last look we had before it disappeared.  We heard it calling again further up the mountain.

Only 2 days left in Green Valley and then it is back to British Columbia.  We will see if we can a few pictures together for one last blog before we go. 

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Southern Arizona Birding continues. May 10-14 2014, Buenos Aires NWR, Anza Trail, Madera Canyon

We visited the Anza Trail again and took a trip to Buenos Aires NWR to explore the Antelope trail.  Most of the bird action was around the visitors centre but the Antelope Trail had plenty of Horned Larks and a pair of Bendire's Thrashers.  We stayed in one area of Madera Canyon on hopes of finding a reported Varied Bunting but had no luck.  The list for the trip stands at 302.
Abert's Towhee on the Anza Trail

Bell's Vireo on the Anza Trail.  Getting food for young where we discovered nest at Sinaloa site a few weeks ago.
Greater Roadrunner at Rio Rico.
Another view.  Greater Roadrunner at Rio Rico.
We pulled into a shade beside the road and this guy came out and laid down beside the car.  We ate lunch and it kept us company.
Mourning Doves at our condo.  The next morning the nest was empty.  They had fledged overnight.
Western Kingbird.

The following pictures were taken at Buenos Aires NWR.
This Coyote escorted us to the visitors centre.
Horned Larks were common on the Antelope Trail
Olive-sided Flycatcher at visitors centre.
Bendire's Thrasher-Antelope Trail
Bendire's Thrasher.  There was a pair here.
Bullock's Orioles were active around the visitors centre.  First year bird.

The following birds were at Madera Canyon
Hermit Thrush

Bridled Titmouse

Some other nice birders alerted us to a Blue-grey Gnatcatcher nest on one of the trails at Madera.
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