About Me

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Sandia Park, New Mexico, United States
I have been birding for 41 years. My favorite clients are those who are interested in birds, watching them and even learning about their behavior, not just checking birds off a life list. I enjoy people and want to have fun while birding. As a bird watcher since 1972, I have acquired a broad knowledge of birds, birdsong, habitat and behavior. One of the things I enjoy most about taking people out birding is teaching my clients how to identify birds and how to recall their song. We were in Asheville, NC for 5 years, and Bisbee, AZ 10 years before that. Currently we are house hunting in New Mexico.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Arizona Birding Jan. 2012 + Upcoming Tour

Hello birders! I just returned from 14 days in southeast Arizona. For those who have not birded in the Southwest, one must realize that there is never a bad birding day. We had wonderful weather, nice clients and great birding, as always, yes, even in Jan.

The first part of my stay in AZ was spent leading a trip for High Lonesome Bird Tours, called: Ramsey Canyon New Years Trip. This trip included 15 birders with 128 species for the final tally. We began on the west side of the Huachuca Mountains, a well known wintering birding area called the San Raphael Valley along the Sonoran, Mexican border. Some highlights on the first day were large flocks of Chestnut-collared Longspurs mixed with Horned Larks. We had Golden Eagles, overwintering sparrows such as Brewer's, Vesper, Savannah, White crowned, Song, Lincoln's and Lark Buntings. We visited the former Patton's bird yard and got great looks at Abert's
Towhee, Green tailed Towhee, Pyrrhuloxia, Anna's, Broad-billed Hummingbirds. The next few days were spent in and around the Sulpher Springs Valley where we had a near record count of 20,800 of assorted sub species of Sandhill Cranes along with Merlin, Peregrine, Barn Owl, Great horned Owl, four thrashers: Curve-billed, Crissal, Sage, Bendire's, and topped off one day with four towhees: Spotted, Green-tailed, Abert's and Canyon. We were complimented with four races of Red-tailed Hawks (photo by Mary Kay Gardner, below) all from varying regions of the US: Rufous morph, Western, Fuertes, Harlan's. We finished one of our days with a beautiful dark morphed Ferruginous Hawk in the valley.
We finished this trip by spending the day at Ft. Huachuca, an army base in the Huachuca Mountains, birding for the specialties of the area including: Williamson's
and Red-naped Sapsucker, Mexican race of the Brown Creeper, a Black-eared Bushtit, which a subspecies from Mexico, not normally found north of the border. We ventured up a well known canyon in search of the Mexican Spotted Owl which we found as well. The Ramsey Canyon B&B, where our group stayed during the trip, was as comfortable and convenient to great birding spots, as always. Hand made pies awaited our every evening served with coffee and tea. It was a wonderful trip with nice clients whom I look forward to birding with again.
Spotted Owl
The next part of my stay in AZ began the day after the High Lonesome Trip ended with four clients from the San Bernardino Audubon. We revisited the Sulpher Springs Valley for a half day and found all the species previously mentioned and sought after. Some more clients were interested in birding, whom I met while staying at the Casa de San Pedro. We ventured out to bird along the San Pedro River and spotted Crissal Thrasher in breeding plumage. We were serenaded by Black throated Sparrows along the road to Bisbee, on our way to the Sulpher Springs Valley. After a long half
day, the clients were more than satisfied with species they hadn't ever seen before in excellent scope views: Cactus Wren, Verdin, Lark Sparrow, among others. We were treated to pie at the Casa de San Pedro while we went over our check list.

murmuration of icterids (blackbirds) approx 2000-2500
The last part of my 14 days were spent with my favorite clients from Hamilton, TX, Mary Kay and Debbi and their friend Deidre from NJ. I have to admit that I was impressed with the progress the two photographers, Mary Kay and Debbi had made with birding and photography skills, from the first time I met them at the Southwest Wings Birding Festival in 2009. They allowed me to use the great pictures attached to this blog. The murmuration you see in the pic above was shot as the Blackbirds e.g. Yellow-headed and Red wings left the cattails heading north. We had a grand time, two full days birding and lunching in the field, hitting the hotspots. The first morning we went out at 4am to capture the cranes and the full moon setting, with the sun rising. The sun and moon did not rise and set at the same time, this day. However, great photos came it anyway.

The second day we spent at Ft. Huachuca. The day was highlighted by spotting the Mexican Spotted Owl which we couldn't locate at first. He was lurking in the dark oak canopy. We had a Goshawk fly over at 60 miles an hour. We finished off the day by meeting a director of the American Birding Conservancy with a wonderful meal prepared by Mary Kay and Debbi. Fun, Friends, Birds, and Food, can't beat that for a wonderful ending to a great trip.

Feb. 17-21, 2012. I will be leading this tour for High Lonesome Bird Tours. Check the link for details about this trip. It is a short but sweet way to experience southeast Arizona in the winter, with lots of opportunities for central plains species.

Stay in touch for future trips for 2012!

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