After one and a half days at home following New River (just enough time for laundry and a quick cuddle with the cats and the boyfriend - in that order), I fly to Arizona for my first west coast birding experience. At Thanksgiving last year, my bird mentor, Uncle Jim, casually mentioned that an Arizona trip with him and his lovely wife, Laura, was a possiblity in the spring of 2011. I agreed, assuming that like all good intentions, it would never occur. But I should never underestimate the lure of a life bird - Uncle Jim needs the Mexican chickadee and the juniper titmouse for his list. His good friend and fellow birder, Nell, knows Clifford Cathers, owner of Economy Birding Services, Inc and voila - a few emails, phone calls and plane reservations later, Jim, Laura, Nell and I are joining Cliff for a four day tour of southeastern Arizona.
Most of the birds on this trip will be lifers for me since I have no western species on my life list. Regardless of the number of lifers I collect at New River, the Arizona trip should put me over 300. I hope the 300th bird is a special one - my 200th bird was a Florida Scrub Jay at the Space Coast Festival in Titusville, FL. What will make the 300th bird so special is not the number, but the fact that I will be with Uncle Jimmy when I get it. It can't get more perfect than that.
Stellar JayI have purchased three new field guides for Western US and Arizona and am studying like mad. I don't think I will be nearly ready enough, but with four experienced birders to assist, I am looking forward to hitting 300. West Virginia with The Flock and Arizona with Uncle Jim. How lucky can one birder get?
The itinerary that Cliff prepared for us includes the Chiricahuas, Santa Rita Mountains, the low desert near Continental, Madera Kubo, Tubac, Rio Rico Ponds, Pena Blanca Lake, Madera Canyon in the evening for some owling (yes!!), Miller Canyon, Ash Canyon, Huachuca Mountains, Willcox Cochise Lake and Rustler Park. Wow! I will be one tired little birder - but with an amazing list.
Species we are targeting include gilded flicker, gila woodpecker, ladder-backed woodpecker, Gambel's quail, pyrrhuloxia, ash-throated flycatcher, vermillion flycatcher, brown-crested flycatcher, Lucy's warbler, Bell's vireo, verdin, curve-billed thrasher, cactus wren, black-throated sparrow, hooded oriole, Northern bearded tyrannulet, Albert's towhee, greater roadrunner, rufous-winged sparrow, red-faced warbler, Grace's warbler, olive warbler, Hutton's viroe, plumbeous vireo, Western wood pee-wee, white-throated swift, broad-tailed hummingbird, hepatic tanager, Western tanager, greater pee-wee, pygmy nuthatch, hermit warbler, Townsend's warbler, red-shafted flicker, dusty-capped flycatcher, elegant trogon, Mexican jay, acorn woodpecker, flame-colored tanager, Scott's oriole, magnificent hummingbird, broad-billed hummingbird, bewick's wren, bridled titmouse, juniper titmouse, Mexican chickadee, sulphur-bellied flycatcher, Arizona woodpecker, black-throated gray warbler, black-headed grosbeak, Cassin's kingbird, black-capped gnatcatcher, tropical kingbird, Western kingbird, gray hawk, common ground-dove, berylline and white-eared hummingbirds, least grebe, bronzed cowbird, black-chinned hummingbird, elf owl, western screech owl, whiskered screech owl, lesser nighthawk, common poorwill, Lucifer hummingbird, Montezuma quail, zone-tailed hawk, Botteri's sparrow, Anna's hummingbird, Western bluebird and short-tailed hawk. Whew! ALL of these would be life birds for me. Intense? Yes. Exhausting? Yes. Exciting? YES!
Juniper Titmouse (a target species for this trip)