2 January 2014 Thursday: I added two birds of significance today and picked up several of the regulars to bring the year total to 99. I had an errand to run in Tucson so I returned to Reid Park in Tucson to make another try for the Pine Warbler. Andrew and I tried for the Pine Warbler yesterday. We found nearly all the warblers were foraging I the treetops probably because of all the human activity at ground level. And with the road noise from 22nd Street and people enjoying the wonderful day hearing warbler chips was nearly impossible. Today I arrived at Reid Park at about 08:00 and it took less than 15 minutes to find the bird. With the exception of one maintenance worker I was the only one in this section of the park. I found the Pine Warbler foraging on the ground with small flocks of Yellow-rumped “Audubon’s” Warblers between the children’s play area and Ramada #7. It was rather breezy this morning and all the birds feeding on the ground frequently flushed for cover at each gust. Re-finding the warbler took a few minutes after the small flocks of passerines returned to ground feeding. About the time I am sneaking up on the Pine Warbler for a photograph a lady with two toddlers arrive on the scene. From my perspective, it appeared as if one of the toddlers saw the flock of warblers on the ground. The child seemed to know that in a few months they would be bright & colorful and ran towards them as if to catch one. Though the scenario was cute and child was delighted with the birds scattering, why couldn’t he have targeted the House Finches?
I stopped at the grassy knoll on the north side of Reid Park and watched the Lewis’s Woodpecker fly back and forth between the small oak trees and the tall palms. It was caching acorns in the crevices between the pruned palm fronds. I really enjoy watching Lewis’s Woodpecker. They have been a fascination of mine since I first saw them in eastern Colorado as a young teenager.
My next stop was Himmel Park. Andrew and I got very nice looks at the Harris’s Sparrow yesterday, however the battery in my camera was dead so the only pictures I got of this bird was with my iPhone. It’s a pretty neat picture of Andrew’s back while he takes pictures of the sparrow and the Harris’s Sparrow is visible in the image. I didn’t see the Harris’s Sparrow this morning. Another birder has just seen it and believes it is hiding in the Oleander bushes when I arrive. I see Mark Stevenson who has also just seen the sparrow. We chat while we bird nearby alleys. Since I truly do have a non-birding reason to be in Tucson, I stow my binoculars and take care of my errands.
On my way home, I stopped at an undisclosed golf course pond and pick up two species of Mergansers, Common and Red-breasted. Red-breasted Mergansers are rare in southeast Arizona though they occur with some regularity. This individual was discovered during one of the local Christmas Bird Counts and the discoverers wish its location kept "secret" for reasons of neighborhood civility.
Late in the afternoon while cleaning house, I decide I need to get outside again. I make a quick trip up to Madera Canyon hoping to find the Red-breasted Sapsucker and/or the recently discovered “Red” Fox Sparrow. I find neither but add several species to the year list here and on the drive back home. I resisted the urge to twitch several other easy species in Madera Canyon that I have yet to see this year. I will probably see most or all of those species tomorrow or someday while looking for some significant species or while guiding. I am not rushed to get a big list, I want to get the birds that cannot be gotten elsewhere in space and time. The big list will develop.
I have made arrangement to go birding with George West on Saturday. We are going to hit Huachuca Canyon and Whitewater Draw. Tomorrow I believe I will return to Madera Canyon and make another attempt for the sapsucker and Fox Sparrow. Then I will probably go to Florida Canyon to see the Rufous-capped Warbles. It feels really strange not to have this species on my list already!
Added 13 species for a total of 99. Almost a quarter of the way there!