More Target Birding; Oak Creek Canyon-Cave Springs CG, Coconino County, AZ

Thursday, July 21st
Yesterday, my friend, Susan Fishburn, who gets Rare Bird Alerts by the hour, invited me to join her today to search for another LIFE BIRD (for both of us): a YELLOW-THROATED VIREO. Steve and Joan Hosmer were also able to come along. They, too, are accustomed to getting up at the crack of dark to search out rarities where they might show up in Arizona.

Sedona is not all that distant and we arrived as planned at 7 a.m.  

View above from Cave Springs Camp Ground, Oak Creek Canyon

The words no birder wants to hear from another birder after getting up at 2 a.m. and driving for three hours are: "We saw the Yellow-throated Vireo about fifteen (15) minutes ago!"

Jason Wilder and his friend had arrived at 6:45, and were able to take a photo of the bird at its known location. They continued to look with us in the same open picnic area just beyond the registration office for the campground. I heard a vireo. Hmmm. Wrong one: Plumbeous. 

The place was birdy - just not our bird. 

Cordilleran Flycatcher

Our sighting list grew. After two hours we walked through the campground to the Host sites where feeders were attracting many hummingbirds. Rufous Hummingbirds are uncommon where I live in the desert east of Phoenix but this place was literally humming with them.

Rufous Hummingbird - above and below 

Many Broad-tailed Hummingbirds were active but I spotted only one Anna's Hummingbird.

Okay, back to our target bird.

Another birding couple had arrived. The next time we heard a vireo, it was behind us -- on the east side of Oak Creek.  Ron Auler and his wife were focused on tall leafy trees so we followed suit. Ron called out that he was on our bird. Steve saw part of it and felt like it was our target bird, but he wanted to be absolutely sure he saw enough identification markers to call it for sure.

So we stayed for another hour or so...during which time, I walked back to the car to get my sandwich and some water.  I heard a Hermit Thrush and saw two Hairy Woodpeckers as I walked to the parking lot.

Male Hairy Woodpecker was out and about with a juvenile.
Hurrying back, I hoped I hadn't taken up TARGET BIRD time for my photo of the Hairy WP.  Had they seen it yet?  No. Soon, though, Steve called out.  There it is. Both Susan and I got on the spot just in time to see the Yellow-throated Vireo fly. It was a blur. But we had heard it several times and saw it fly deeper into the leaves and out of sight.  -- Another bird, I'll list as a Life Bird with the caveat that I definitely need a better look. (as I had done in April with my previous Lifer, Hudsonian Godwit).

Yellow-throated Vireo; photo from Audubon internet site
It was what I called a disappointing success. No good looks at the very fast-moving Vireo; and no chance for a photo. Still, with Steve's accurate identification, we know we were on the right bird and were glad to finally find it.

It was definitely worth the visit to Sedona to escape the desert heat of 114°F.

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1 comment:

  1. Any chance to get out of the heat is a bonus. I hate this time of year. It's so uncomfortable and I look forward to the cold temps again. Like ice cold. Snow, ice. People laugh and ask me why I'd want that. Well when you live in the desert, there's nothing better than ice:)

    I like the term "disappointing success". That's how I feel at times with certain lifers. I need better views. Like, take for example, the Scarlet Tanager. I saw it fly off several times but never long enough to look at it properly:) But you saw the bird! So that's great! I'm wondering what the next fun and rare bird challenge will be!