Monday, January 19, 2009

Madera Canyon

Today is our next-to-last day in Arizona, and we had a triple treat. We met Kathie of Sycamore Canyon blog fame, and she really is as nice as you would expect reading her blog. She joined us at Madera Canyon to show us around, AND we saw some really wonderful birds, adding greatly to our Life List for this trip. She also went to Whitewater Draw this week, and may have been there the same day I was - ships passing in the sunshine, as it were. The weather today was even more perfect than it has been all week, starting at a balmy 59 degrees this morning.

It's hard to decide what the most exciting bird of the day was. Certainly this bright Townsend's Warbler should be close to the top. We followed him from branch to branch and shade to sun, snapping dozens of pictures. I'm not strong on warblers in general, so I'm really pleased with this. Sometimes, the top bird is the one that got away from the camera.

Ruby Crowned Kinglets followed us all the way up the canyon, jumping busily from tree to tree as usual. We went to the top of the road, and hiked a little farther beyond that. Some bird we didn't recognize seemed to be following us. Where is that little devil, and what in the world can it be? Each time we thought we'd found it, we saw another Kinglet instead. Eventually we decided that the Kinglets were persistently trying to teach us what they sound like. I'd certainly not heard one before, so we learned a new call, and I got my first picture of an actual Kinglet sitting still for a split second.

Can we get Birder's Compensation from the American Birding Association for the crick in my neck trying to take pictures of this Red-naped Sapsucker directly above my head? While we followed this bird around, Kathie spotted a Painted Redstart that was absolutely amazing. Others in the Seen But Not Photographed Category include a Verdin and a cute little Brown Creeper found by my husband. Good eye, honey! Kathie spotted a Green Tailed Towhee, and I saw about 4 feathers on it before it ducked into a different bush.

We took a break at the Santa Rita Lodge area to do a little birding while sitting down, watching the crowd at the bird feeders. I tried and tried to get a clear shot of the Bridled Titmouse at these feeders, but it moves just as fast here as in the trees, and they ended up pretty blurred. My camera settings were OK, but it just moved out of focus before I could take the shot. Ah well, guess I'll just have to come back some day. These little Oregon Juncos and Dark Eyed Juncos were much more co-operative.

Have you ever noticed that birders don't get to actually sit down and eat their own lunch while on a really good birding trip? We sat at the picnic tables, and took off cameras and binoculars while we ate, but kept getting up to examine some bird in a tree, or take a picture of a bird we'd hoped to see, such as this Hermit Thrush.

The Jays, of course, followed us up and down the canyon in noisy groups of 5 or 6 birds. I left a little "bait" on the bench hoping to lure in a Bridled Titmouse long enough to take a shot, but the Jays ate the bait instead.

Woodpeckers scavenged in almost every tree be passed. Sometimes it was the brown backed Arizona Woodpecker (above). More often it was the clown faced Acorn Woodpecker (below). Don't you just love that look?

My list shows 27 species for the day, including 7 Lifers! I'll have to check with Kathie's list and see if she has something I forgot to write down - a distinct possibility. Tomorrow we will pack the car, and head to Tucson's Reid Park for some quick birding before catching the plane back to Louisville.


Kathiesbirds said...

Kathy, your photos came out just fine. I love the view of the creek at the top. I think my total for the whole canyon is the same as yours with you getting the raven and me getting the ladder-backed woodpecker. I had a great time too and thought the same thing as you about lunch getting interupted by bird watching! Oh well, at least you and Dick understand it! Some people get irritated when you don't focus completely on them!

Anonymous said...

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