I have always enjoyed studying herps, and my recent trip to SE Arizona provided a nice opportunity to enjoy some new species. I don’t have a reptile reference for that area, so I am using this post to practice letting go of my need to name things. I invite you to enjoy the pretty lizards. If you know their names, feel free to leave a comment.
The Ash Canyon Bed and Breakfast is one of the must-visit sites in southeastern Arizona. It is hardly hard-core birding, as you are sitting around in Mary Jo Ballator’s back yard watching the feeders, but the diversity of birds is great. I shared some of the hummingbird species in an earlier post. Here are a few other species seen in the yard.
This Red-faced Warbler was seen in nearby Miller Canyon. Of course, before I got my camera out, he was on a low perch singing his little heart out. Once the camera came out, he felt the need to fly to this high back-lit perch.
I spent a few days in Madera Canyon, the famous birding hotspot in southeastern Arizona. Days consisted of long hikes, interspersed with relaxing periods sitting on the patio watching the bird feeders.
One big draw of southeastern Arizona is the diversity of hummingbird species. The greatest diversity is usually found during the monsoon season of late summer, but even in mid-April I found eleven species. Here are some photos of the more cooperative ones.
Magnificent Hummingbirds look completely black most of the time. Like the Black-chinned, the light has to hit them just right to see their colors. This blurry shot was the only one from the trip that showed any color at all.
On my recent trip to Arizona, I had the pleasure of watching this Mexican Spotted Owl preening and snoozing near his nest cavity. Spotted Owl has been a nemesis species for me since moving to Oregon twelve years ago. The subspecies that breeds in Oregon, Northern Spotted Owl, has been in steady decline for decades, as its old-growth forest habitat continues to be harvested for lumber, and its close relatives, Barred Owls, continue to expand their range, eating or interbreeding with the Spotteds as they go. As a result, the locations of Northern Spotted Owls in Oregon tend to be kept secret, to protect the birds from unemployed lumberjacks with shotguns or overzealous birders.
The culture surrounding Spotted Owls in Arizona is very different. Email lists describe the exact location of roosting owls, making it easy for birders from around the country, and around the world, to have a look. The habitat of the Mexican Spotted Owl is not as commercially valuable as the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. The money brought in to southeast Arizona by visiting birders probably far exceeds the value of any timber harvest in this area. So the Mexican Spotted Owl, while still rare, seems to be doing OK while being admired by adoring throngs of birders.
I led trips for the Birding and Blues Festival in Pacific City, OR, last weekend. The weather was cool with scattered showers, so photo ops were not abundant.
The Three Capes Tour on Friday was actually very good for mammals, with charismatic mega-fauna such as Gray Whale, Steller’s Sea Lion and Roosevelt Elk. Only slightly less charismatic was this California Ground Squirrel.
This Peregrine Falcon posed nicely on the cliff at Cape Meares. The rich colors of the rocks and plants, compared the overexposed image of the falcon show that I have obviously still not mastered my new camera.
There is a large flock of Eurasian Collared Doves in Pacific City. Ten years ago, this species would have been a huge deal, but they are very well established now. Despite their abundance, this flock was very shy.
The avian stars of Pacific City are these Aleutian Cackling Geese. This particular population breeds on the Semidi Islands and winters at Pacific City, spending the nights on Haystack Rock offshore and days in this cow pasture at the north end of town.