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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tucson Arizona: The Passerines

Today was another epic day. Epic in the distance we traveled, the amount of things we accomplished and the number of times I lugged my camera and tripod out of that damn car. Today also ended up being our hottest day yet; the lack of sleep and the heat was getting to us all. But again we visited so many cool places. Saw so many interesting things. Our world holds so many beautiful things it takes my breath away. We started our day close to the cabins we stayed in, birding around at some of the bed and breakfasts with bird feeders and then ending our morning at the park at the top of the hill. For the afternoon and evening we ventured into the valleys and found so many birds my brain almost exploded.

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BLACK HEADED GROSBEAK FEMALE THAT GOT STUNNED WHEN SHE HIT THE WINDOW... THANKFULLY SHE FLEW OFF ABOUT A HALF HOUR LATER

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MR. OWLBAIT AND I FOUND SOME BUG NERDS TO HANG OUT WITH FOR A WHILE

I only saw four species of passerines that I had seen already. FOUR the entire trip… that in itself is incredible. I think my favorite of these was the female Yellow Headed Blackbird. I saw the male Yellow Headed Blackbird last year in Yellowstone but the females were not around at all. This was my first time ever seeing a female and for a female I thought she was beautiful. Not only because of her bright yellow head, unusual for a female, but also because she was perched in front of a field of yellow flowers. A bird after my own heart, color coordinating with her environment to make such a pretty photo.

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GOLDFINCH

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GOLDFINCH

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PLUMBOUS VIREO

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YELLOW HEADED BLACKBIRD FEMALE

I got to see twelve new passerines this trip, eight of which I could cross off my Nerdy Birdy List! My Nerdy Birdy List is based off birds found in California. There are already 597 birds on my list which I feel is enough. Eventually I am sure I will convert my list to all the birds in the United States but for now I stick to the California list. 597 birds is daunting enough to try and find for a beginner birder like me. So when I go birding in new states I of course see new birds that are not on my California list. We found four new birds out of this category and my favorites were the Yellow Eyed Juncos for their eerie yellow eyes and the beautiful Mexican Jay.

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BOTTERI SPARROW

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MEXICAN JAY

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RUFUS WINGED SPARROW

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RUFUS WINGED SPARROW

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YELLOW EYED JUNCO

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YELLOW EYED JUNCO

The birding today was like always fantastic but we had to take cover in the mid afternoon from the downpour. Most days it threatened rain but today it REALLY poured for a solid hour. Thankfully we were hungry so we took refuge in a restaurant to wait it out. We were shocked when midway through the deluge quarter sized hail began to fall. WICKED crazy!!

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THIS IS WHAT THE SKY STARTED TO LOOK LIKE WHEN WE DECIDED TO GO AND EAT

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WE WERE RUNNING AWAY FROM THE GIGANTIC STORMCLOUDS

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After lunch we headed back out to bird and the clouds were breaking up like a huge storm hadn’t just torn through the sky. You cannot get clouds like this in LALA land and I was one happy girl. Since Mrs. Owlbait also likes to take a ton of photos we made quite a few stops to get some awesome landscape photos.

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I JUMPED OUT OFTEN TO SNAP PHOTOS

Passerines by nature are usually high up in the dense understory of a tree. They are fast, they are often in the shade of the leaves and generally you are fighting to get a clear photo of the birds between twigs and foliage. Sometimes it is impossible to get the shot and other times you get lucky when a bird takes a little break, or a pause in an open space. Below are the eight new birds I got to cross off of my Nerdy Birdy List, some are in more open areas than others!

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GRASSHOPPER SPARROW

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HEPATIC TANAGER

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HEPATIC TANAGER

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BLUE GROSBEAK

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PAINTED REDSTART

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RUFOUS CROWNED SPARROW

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RUFOUS CROWNED SPARROW

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THICK BILLED KINGBIRD

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YELLOW BILLED CUCKOO

Our last stop of the day was a lake high in the mountains. We came here specifically, which took over an hour to get too, for a single rare bird. For the past couple of years Least Grebes have been found breeding at this lake. Mrs. Owlbait opted to take a nap in the car, having seen the bird before. Mr. Owlbait and I took off on a hike down the mountain. Carrying that huge lens down steep slopes is not fun, but when I find that rare bird and get an awesome photo, it makes everything worth it. This feeling is PRICELESS.

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THE MOUNTIANS ON THE WAY TO THE LAKE

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THE RIVER THAT WAS CREATED BY THE FLASH FLOOD OF THE RAIN THAT FEEDS INTO THE LAKE

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LEAST GREBE

2 comments:

paul peggy zeus said...

The sun looks larger that life. I'm so glad you have nerdy birdy friends who know soooo much about nature. Super colossal photos!

Jennifer Arens said...

what's the name of that beautiful flower towards the top? I liked the photo of you in the road :) Snazzy as usual!

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