29 August 2009

700th photographed bird species!

This morning Torre, Tyler, and I went birding down around Saylorville and then some in Boone County. Although the birding was extremely slow due to wind, etc, we still found a couple things. Among those was this YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER. This was my 700th photographed bird species!

We also saw a couple OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS. Here is one in Boone County:

Adding a nice splash of color, we also saw this male BALTIMORE ORIOLE:

Then late this afternoon, Ashley and I went to Brookside Park in Ames to check for warblers. We weren't disappointed (especially given the lack of birds this morning). We had 8 species of warblers:

Black-and-white Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Mourning Warbler
American Redstart
Canada Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Wilson's Warbler (see below photo)

28 August 2009

Warblers - 28 Aug. 2009

Although I don't have much in the way of photographs from the last couple days (it's been raining almost constantly!), I thought I'd give a quick update on some of the migrants I've seen here in central Iowa.

First off, my yard in west Ames has been surprisingly productive. So far I've had 11 warbler species:

Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
"Bay-poll" Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Waterthrush
Mourning Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Canada Warbler

Three other warblers that I haven't had in the yard yet but DID see this morning in Ames included:
Golden-winged Warbler

The yard has also produced these other migrants:
Least Flycatcher
"Traill's" Flycatcher
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Swainson's Thrush

Pretty fun time to bird central Iowa! Or maybe I'm just overexcited to see "eastern" warblers (considering I don't see too many during my field work in Nebraska).

23 August 2009

Warblers - 23 Aug. 2009

Warblers and other passerines have begun to pass through central Iowa. In fact, even along College Creek (including our yard which borders College Creek) has been decent for migrants. Over the last 2 days we've seen these species in the area:


Yesterday, we had this GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER just down the path from our yard:

Today there was this MOURNING WARBLER which gave us a good chance to study up on eye-rings and throat/breast patterns of fall MOWA's.

18 August 2009

Saylorville, etc - 18 Aug. 2009

Ashley and I made a quick loop down around Saylorville this afternoon/evening.

At Polk City Wildlife Area I stumbled into these 2 new butterfly species.



The shorebirds at Jester Park were pretty impressive. With probably over 1000 birds total, we tallied 15 species:


Some other birds present included CASPIAN TERNS (4), BLACK TERN (1), and hundreds of AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS.

What was really quite impressive was watching an immature PEREGRINE FALCON catching a Pectoral Sandpiper! Interestingly, the falcon was wearing a red color band on its right leg. Perhaps it was a young bird from a nearby public nest?

15 August 2009

Western Sandpiper etc.

Today Steve Dinsmore and I canoed out to the mudflats at Red Rock to get a better look at the thousand plus shorebirds.

On the day, we tallied 19 species of shorebirds:

Pectoral Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated Plover
Spotted Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Black-bellied Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper
Wilson's Phalarope
Baird's Sandpiper (3)
Upland Sandpiper (1)
American Golden-Plover (1)

A highlight for me was seeing at least 2 WESTERN SANDPIPERS. Below is a digiscoped photo of one of them:

Another highlight included 3 singing ALDER FLYCATCHERS at one spot!

13 August 2009


One more post regarding our recent AZ trip.....

I can't forget some of the dragonflies we encountered. Although I didn't ID that many on the trip, I'm sure we missed a ton.

This is a male Filigree Skimmer from Sycamore Canyon:

... and here is the female Filigree Skimmer:

We also saw many Flame Skimmers. Here is a male:

Regarding small mammals, we saw only a couple species. This is a Round-tailed Ground Squirrel at Catalina State Park:

... and this is a Cliff Chipmunk at Barfoot Park in the Chiricahuas:

I might add on this blog that we DID see a Black Bear! We were hiking down along the Proctor Road trail below Madera Canyon when we turned a corner and were face-to-face with a (fairly large) Black Bear! Luckily, it turned and barreled off through the woods. -whew-

Later in the trip, we found some bear tracks in the mud in Garden Canyon. Here is a photo of one of the bear tracks next to my size-12 boot track:

Also in Garden Canyon were some pretty neat petroglyphs (courtesy of Ashley... I was off looking at butterflies):

A favorite spot of mine in Arizona is Sycamore Canyon. Here is picture as we're hiking back:

Here is a panorama taken near Portal, Arizona:

... and one of my favorites, the ocatillo grasslands below Madera Canyon at dusk:

And lastly, here is a rainbow above the grasslands below Madera Canyon:

12 August 2009

AZ Birds

The birds of southeastern Arizona are always enjoyable. Our recent trip was a success, we tallied about 160 species without even touching shorebirds or waterfowl!

I managed 7 ABA lifers. They were (in order):

Black-capped Gnatcatcher
Sinaloa Wren
Lucifer Hummingbird
Buff-breasted Flycatcher
Bendire's Thrasher
Scott's Oriole
Black-chinned Sparrow

I also SAW several species that I had never visually "seen" before:

Montezuma Quail
Elf Owl
Whiskered Screech-Owl
Western Screech-Owl
Red-faced Warbler

We had great luck with quail! We saw broods of both Scaled and Gambel's. What's more exciting was how frequently we stumbled on Montezuma Quail (at least 5 times)!

Here is a SCALED QUAIL near Madera Canyon:

And here is a MONTEZUMA QUAIL also below Madera Canyon:

Below is a Gambel's Quail near the "Willow Tank" (near Rodeo, NM):

We also had decent luck with raptors. We tallied:
Zone-tailed (4)
Short-tailed (1)
Gray (5+)
Harris's (1)
Cooper's (3)
Am. Kestrel

Our most interesting find was a ZONE-TAILED HAWK in Aravaipa attending young! Below is that Zone-tailed:

Another highlight was finding the SHORT-TAILED HAWK at Barfoot Park in the Chiricahuas:

And you can't forget GRAY HAWKS. This one was soaring above Sycamore Canyon:

One of my favorite birding spots near Tucson is Catalina State Park. After dark, we had this nice look at a WESTERN SCREECH-OWL:

And the GREATER ROADRUNNERS there always provide something to photograph:

A definite highlight of this trip were the hummingbirds. We tallied an amazing 12 species (not bad for the US, huh?). I managed photos of all 12 kinds:

One of the rarer species we saw were the WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBIRDS (2-3) in Miller Canyon:

Below is a VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD at the Portal Store. We also saw this species at the Patton's house in Patagonia.

RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS are back in se AZ during August. Here is a nice male:

One of the largest hummingbird species in the US is the MAGNIFICENT HUMMINGBIRD:

A personal highlight for me was seeing the LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRDS at Mary Jo's feeders in Ash Canyon. The picture isn't great but that's not what matters! Here's the male:

One of the harder hummingbirds to find during our stay was Calliope. However, this male CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD was at the Portal Store:

Don't forget about BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD. Here is a male in Miller Canyon:

A very common hummer in AZ was the BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD:

A tricky guy to photograph, below is a BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD in Miller Canyon. This individual proceeded to bathe in the rain:

Another very common hummer was the BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD:

ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRDS were also pretty common. This male was at Miller Canyon:

And lastly, it's been a very good year in se AZ for BERYLLINE HUMMINGBIRDS. There are multiple birds in Miller Canyon. Here is one of those birds:

Many birders enjoy the ELEGANT TROGONS found in southeastern AZ. We came across this species many times during our trip (Madera, Sawmill, and Scheelite Canyons):

We also saw quite a few species of woodpeckers. Here is an ARIZONA WOODPECKER:

... and the ACORN WOODPECKERS provided something to check out as well:

Flycatchers of all different varieties can be found while birding AZ. Here is a NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYANNULET below Madera Canyon:

... and TROPICAL KINGBIRDS at Tubac:


A highlight for me was seeing 10+ BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHERS in Sawmill Canyon! There were a couple family groups and I watched as adults fed young, etc:

Another highlight was seeng a long-time nemesis bird of mine: the BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER. This female was at Florida Canyon in the Santa Ritas:

Since the ID of gnatcatchers can be a challenge, it was helpful to have a clear look at the undertail (note the mostly white tail and the graduated tail feathers). The bird cooperated stuningly:

Below is a BRIDLED TITMOUSE, a common species in southeastern AZ:

The MEXICAN CHICKADEE only occurs in the US on one mountain range, the Chiricahuas. We had great looks at this species at many locations during our visit:

As far as thrashers go, we had good looks of a BENDIRE'S THRASHER near Rodeo. Note the yellow iris, straight bill (compared to Curve-billed), and the pale base of the bill:

Below are two of the target warblers we found. First a RED-FACED WARBLER near Pinery campground:

...and this PAINTED REDSTART at Madera Canyon:

Other warblers we saw included:

Black-throated Gray
C. Yellowthroat

Some sparrows and things we saw also included this VARIED BUNTING below Madera Canyon:

... and RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROWS at Catalina State Park near Tucson:

Many of the grasslands there this time of year have singing CASSIN'S and BOTTERI'S SPARROWS. Below is a BOTTERI'S below Madera Canyon:

Also, while up in the Chiricahuas, YELLOW-EYED JUNCOS were quite common: