Sunday, May 17, 2009

Where in the world is Chris?

Ok, I haven't vanished. Not quite.  A lot has happened since my last post so I'll just give you a few photos and a recap starting where I left off.  

Palo Duro State park, Saturday morning, May 9th: 
I arrived at the park at about 9am (I slept in) on a cloudy, cool Texas day.  
I cruised into the park (where I picked up Cassin's Sparrow right at the entrance) and down into the canyon.  I drove down to the second Day use area and parked. The habitat looked perfect for finding my nemesis bird. 

I stomped around for a while and found a few interesting things. The first thing I found was a Mississippi Kite that was sitting in a tree just beyond the parking lot.  Then I heard a sound similar to a Red-bellied Woodpecker. Except, this is Texas. It turned out to be a Golden-fronted Woodpecker!  My first lifer of the day. 
Then, I saw another smalle bird flit past and land in a mesquite. Looked similar to a Tufted Titmouse, except this one had black on the front of the crest........... Black-crested Titmouse!!
I watched the Titmouse for a while and then walked back down the trail again. Something brightly colored caught my eye as it flashed past across the path.  It was nice enough to sit out in the open for all to see: 

There, on the branch, sat my #1 Nemesis bird of 14 years.  An adult male in breeding plumage. 
An absolutely stunning Painted Bunting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I got a few photos of him since he was kind enough to sit still for me. 

That was one beautiful bird and completely made my year. I was more excited about seeing a Painted Bunting than I have been about seeing any other bird. Period. 

Having nailed my nemesis bird, I headed on south and west. In Roswell, NM, I picked up a Burrowing Owl that was sitting on a Telephone wire. Interesting place for such a bird. 

I arrived at Bosque Del Apache at Sunset and decided to take a quick spin through before crashing for the night. It was the best decision I'd made so far.  The Lesser Nighthawks were so loud, I could barely hear anything else.  I took a spin down the marsh loop at the Bosque in hopes of picking up some rails. I wasn't disappointed.  As I slowly cruised along, I suddenly heard the sharp "cack cack cack cack" of a rail.  The sound startled me slightly because, after all, this was New Mexico. Not New Jersey. But, there it was again. The sharp "cack cack cack cack" of a King Rail!  
I reported the sighting to the nature center the next morning, and posted it to the list serve that evening. By Monday morning, more than a dozen people showed up. It turned out that the King Rail I had found, was only the 2nd state record for New Mexico! That was pretty sweet! 

Sunday morning: 
After picking up my lifer Virginia's Warbler, I continued on to Portal, AZ.  I didn't do any more stopping though since something was acting up with the RPMs on my car. Turned out later that the Speed sensor went out. Just had it replaced a few days ago.  
Sunday evening, Dave Jasper and I took a couple of birders out owling. we picked up Elf, Whiskered and Western Screech-owls and Spotted Owl. A good end to a good day. 

Moday, May 11th: 
I spent the day out birding.  I managed to pick up a good number of year birds (most of the common stuff) including Green-tailed Towhee, Black-throated Sparrow and Bridled Titmouse. 

On Tues, Dave and I went over what had to be done around the house and filled up the water tank.  Not much birding done. 

Dave and I went to Douglas to go shopping.  
Upon arriving back in town, I found out that a young male Crescent-chested Warbler had been seen at Pinery Campground that morning.  I went to bed hoping it would stick around. 

I got up bright and early and ran up to the campground after the warbler.  When I arrived, Rose Anne Rowlett and Richard Webster were just leaving after seeing the bird.  I followed their directions up the hill and waited. Nada. The warbler flock had moved on. I walked back down to the road and searched the trees along the roadside. There was the bird!  It was my 538th life bird, and a bird that I'd been wanting for a while. 

Yesterday, my friend Tyler Loomis from Tempe, AZ came down to see the bird. We managed to get decent looks at it for about 2 minutes before it vanished.  To my knowledge, it was never seen again. 

Today, I picked up my year Bendire's Thrasher and my lifer MONTEZUMA QUAIL!!!   
Currently, I have only one more life bird to find in the Chiricahuas that is a regular nesting or migrant bird. Flammulated Owl. Otherwise, I've cleaned out the mountains completely. 

I'll post more photos soon and I'll try and keep you all updated more often. 

Til next time, 
Happy Birding! 


Andrea said...

Nice post! Sounds like you're having some great adventures out there, Chris. :-) Good luck on the Flammulated Owl! I'll look forward to seeing pictures. ;-)

Happy birding!


Tucker L said...

Awesome photo of the Painted Bunting, especially the one where it is singing! I can't wait to see one of those. I hope the one that has been seen for the past few years in Ames, IA shows up. Sounds like an awesome trip.

Anonymous said...

Those were great pictures. I was going to head down to SE AZ last Saturday but, tore my calf muscle and could not walk so did not make the trip. That was a terrific bird to find.

Ali Iyoob said...

I wish I could do a trip ike that. You must be having a great time.