Monday, April 25, 2016

The Winds Over the Water

Sedona Wetlands
Once again, water was the venue for our birding adventures today. Water treatment ponds have always been great resources for birding and this one was easy to find. However, the weather has changed, and winds of 20-30 mph with stronger gusts made it a little chilly around the ponds today. By afternoon, the sky was completely cloud covered and threatening to rain on us.
Cinamon Teals pair
Some of the first birds we found were a brightly colored Cinamon Teal drake and his drab little mate wading in the shallow water around the edges of the pond. Have you ever noticed how many species have red eyes when they are sexually mature? Guess the girls really love it.
Large Tailed Grackle
Regardless of the winds, the air was filled with the cackle, squeal, shriek and wolf whistles of the Long Tailed Grackle.
Red-winged Blackbird
Add to that the constant calls of Red-winged Blackbirds guarding their territories every 6 feet in the cattails, and it was all we could do to talk to each other occasionally.
Red-winged Blackbird female
We remembered the first time we ever saw a female Red-winged Blackbird. We searched through all the sparrows in the field guide and still couldn't figure out what this really big brown bird was.
The Killdeer is a familiar bird. The only plover I feel confident in identifying.
Least Sandpiper
OK, these two small plump birds were foraging in the shallow water. At home, I usually see birds I already know, and don't really have to dig into the field guide too often. In a new area, however, I am spending time with the book to compare and contrast new species, and it's a good exercise. First, these were small birds, letting out all the one with long legs. The legs are a yellow-ish color, letting out all the birds with black legs. Ah, by process of elimination, I think we are getting closer. The book continues, "common, the most widely distributed peep, characterized by greenish-yellow legs, crouching posture, short fine-tipped bill and overall brownish color." The map shows them a either wintering or migrating through this area. I think we have a winner! Now if any of you have a firm but different opinion, please let me know gently.
American Coot
Ring-necked Duck
Ruddy Ducks
 Deeper waters were host to several kinds of ducks. A large body of water in the back was fenced off by the Water Company, but they provided an observation deck for birders. The water made waves on this lake resembling ocean waves, and all the sensible ducks were at the far end, sheltered along the dam. And you really needed a spotting scope to see any of then in any detail.
Yellow-headed Blackbird
When we came to Tucson several years ago for another birding festival, we went to the water treatment facility there and saw hundreds of bright Yellow-headed Blackbirds. Today, there was only one, but it was nice to see a familiar face.
Violet-green Swallows
Violet-green Swallow
Even the Turkey Vultures seemed to have trouble controlling their flight in the strong winds today, but not the swallows. We were almost dive-bombed by the thousands of Violet-green Swallows in the air today. This is strictly a Western bird, with a bright white belly and white on the face. You have to be above it to see the greenish sheen on its back. Their wings are longer than their tails, and I look oh so many photos of empty sky and water trying to get one in flight that was still focused.Tomorrow is the last day for hiking and birding before we have to get on a plane and go home. I still have a few target birds, such as the Bridled Titmouse I would like to photograph, but overall this has been a fantastic trip with 14 new birds to add to our life list!

1 comment:

Grampy said...

Enjoying your trip and all the fascinating bird finds, many of which I had not heard of being a mid-westerner. Have fun, drive safe.