Monday, February 13
As it often does, the river called my name this morning. Fortunately, my friend, Jannie Blok, (nature lover/artist) was able to join me.
As we entered the area, we immediately saw two birds perched up. With a fair amount of cloud cover even at 8:30 a.m., good photos were challenging. WESTERN BLUEBIRDS are always a wecome sight.
Having already passed a HARRIS’S HAWK on the road, we attuned to our surroundings to enjoy whatever followed.
As we desended a steep bank, a mornful low-pitched song reached our ears: “cooo cooo cooo cooo cooo coo coo”. A year ago, that song had stumped me until I saw the bird. Now, I knew: GREATER ROADRUNNER! - that large, loping, long-tailed, bushy-crested bird of cartoon fame! Since a wide field of river rock separated us from its location west of where we were headed AND since it could easily outrun us, we didn’t pursue.
Besides, we had birds chattering or bouncing around tree limbs much closer to us. Bright yellow/black LESSER GOLDFINCH were zipping around; a SAY’S PHOEBE was hawking insects and a HUTTON’S VIREO played hide and seek until we discerned its truth! (Not its look-alike, Ruby-crowned Kinglet.)
As we headed up a dusty wild-horse-trail to level land, a COOPER'S HAWK held tight for awhile but finally flew off a short distance for a more camouflaged perch.
Four species of woodpeckers were busy in the mesquite, willows and cottonwoods.
GILA, LADDER-BACKED, NORTHERN RED-SHAFTED FLICKER and the desert GILDED FLICKER.
|GILA WOODPECKER (Male)|
|LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER [2 photos above]|
|GILDED FLICKER (coppery head opposed to gray of Northern Flicker-no photo)|
PHAINOPEPLA were the most abundant medium-sized song birds we saw. A few were pairing up but for the most part, it was males who were out and about.
A BEWICK'S WREN caught our attention as did two BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHERS, both of which stayed behind limbs and leaves very well.
Typical desert species included VERDIN, CURVE-BILLED THRASHER, ABERT'S TOWHEE and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET.
We had walked over two miles eastward before we saw it. And, there it was, looking small perched up high on a big stone. PEREGRINE FALCON!
|Peregrine Falcon - fastest animal on the planet|
The Peregrine, with much help, has made a terrific comeback since DDT almost wiped them out. Eggshells were too thin for the falcons to survive so programs were put into place to remove the eggs, incubate (often at universities), and return the young to the nest where most parents would accept and raise them.
The fastest animal on the planet! Clocked at 242 mph by National Geographic, this bird swoops down in what is called a "stoop" so fast that smaller birds don't know what hit. The falcon eats waterfowl as well as birds smaller than itself.
The only other bird of prey we spotted was an adult BALD EAGLE that looked like it must have been 1/4 mile away.
Having maintained a steady but leisurely pace, Jannie and I wrapped up our 4-mile birding walk in two hours. Green space is definitely rejuvenating if you can stand the quiet sounds of nature.
* * *
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S34348800