Friday, August 31, 2012

Yes, Santa Claus, there is no Virginia!

John has been looking for Virginia's Warbler in all the right places. He is running out of time. Maybe one will overwinter in our back yard like a Kentucky Warbler did many years back, second record for Orange County CA.

We got off early from Portal Peak Lodge AZ, August 31st. We try to get some milk in the afternoon when we are on the road, so that the next morning, we can have cereal in our room. I asked to drive on the road to Herb Martyr and, sure enough, I spotted Mama Montezuma Quail and three chicks ahead. John got a few photos. He had only heard them so far this year. On the road up to Rustler's Park, I heard the weird buzz of the Mexican Chickadee. 638 We saw them a few more places, no great pics.

Back down at the junction to Paradise, we came across a mixed flock. Mixed flocks are an alphabet soup of birds. Birds of different feathers flock together, a birder's buffet. There were three species of  vireos, Huttons's, Plumbeous, and Cassin's. 639 Nice to be able to compare them in the same tree.

John started his big year with 639 life birds that he acquired over 55 years of birding. In eight months, he has seen 639 big year bird species. Pretty cool.

We then drove down to George Walker House B and B in Paradise. The hostess helped us spot a young male Calliope Hummingbird. John had counted a brief view before, but was glad to get better views and pics. She also suggested we check the stream crossings for the Virginia's Warbler. After a much needed nap, we went back to Paradise Road but didn't hear a peep, even from juncos. Where are you, Virginia!

The extensive fires have forced the bears down out of the Chiracahuas and forced the locals not to maintain feeders for the birds. The owner of Portal Lodge said the bears come through about midnight and empty all their hummingbird feeders. Maybe we will hear them tonight. Kinda sad.

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