Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Finally a lifer and a couple of year birds as well

As I have become a better and more experienced birder I have noticed that I have been getting life birds less often. I am however currently at 315, with a few non-birding trips to California, a non-birding trip in Alabama (which only had a few lifer birds because I was not much of a birder at all back then), and a birding trip to southeast Arizona earlier in the year (I will hopefully post about that in a few weeks or so). From August 21st through the 24th my family took another weekend trip to the Happy Jack Lodge. We arrived at the lodge around 4:00PM and the cloud cover was very thick but that did not stop me from going birding! As I walked through the forest I noticed very little bird activity. It took me about a half mile of hiking before finding a mixed flock of birds, and it did not take long to find what could either be an FOY Downy Woodpecker or just another Hairy Woodpecker.
After observing the birds behavior and looking at the birds field marks (short bill, small size, very active) I was able to call the bird a FOY Downy Woodpecker, year bird 254! I then tried to get some decent shots of the woodpecker but only came up with one, which shows one of the key field marks, the bill.
I was pretty excited to start the trip off with an FOY. I then continued through the forest when I noticed a couple of FOY Band-tailed Pigeons!
Once I started walking towards them they immediately took flight in the opposite direction. I then walked to where I saw them fly and it did not take me long to relocate them.
Year bird 255!!! This is only the 2nd time I have seen the Band-tailed Pigeon in AZ, it was a nice find.
I then hiked to the sewage pond to look for any migrants but I did not find any mega rarities like I was hoping, but this Olive-sided Flycatcher was letting its presence be known.
 Before I knew it, it was already our second day of the trip and my last day of birding. I woke up early to try and crush some of the awesome birds I found on the previous day. One of the birds that seemed to be hard to photograph was the Black-headed Grosbeak but many attempts I finally managed to photograph one.

There was also a Great Blue Heron, Loggerhead Shrike, and MacGillivray's Warbler that favored the pond and its habitat that day.
                                                               Great Blue Heron

                                                                 Loggerhead Shrike
                                                            MacGillivray's Warbler
I have always had trouble photographing the MACW but this female let me get some nice photos of her.
When I was done photographing the birds around Happy Jack  I went back to my trailer. My parents told me that a fellow camper said that I could go over to their RV where they had a many hummingbirds at their feeder, so that was where I headed next. Once I walked over to their RV I had a nice time talking to them about different species birds all the while watching the Broad-tailed, Rufous, and Black-chinned Hummingbirds. As I was pointing out the different types of hummers  a smaller hummingbird flew in and I knew what it was right away but here is a photo of him in the back right, his gorget is a dead give-away!
 It was a Calliope Hummingbird, A lifer for me!!! I was shocked to have one here but I guess it's not that strange. Every ten minutes or so the bird would come in for a drink.
                                                                   Life bird 316!!!
After the bird visited a few times it was gone, but later on I noticed a female that came in, two in only twenty minutes!!

 I still have my upcoming post of "The Swallows Of Happy Jack" which was on the same day! However, the Calliope Hummingbird was a the highlight of that weekends trip.


  1. Congrats on the life bird Caleb and year list additions! Calliope's are awesome, you got many great photos of the awesome Happy Jack birds!

  2. Thanks Mr. Tommy!!! I agree the Calliope is awesome, it's just so small!!!

  3. Congrats on the Calliope lifer, Caleb! You captured him (and her) beautifully with your shots. Overall you've got a great little collection of birds in this post. Oh, and you've got me beat by a dozen or so in the lifer department. :)

  4. Thanks Mr. Josh!!! It will not take long for you to pass my life list I just need to get to southeast AZ more often, if you were to go you would get a lot of lifers unless you have already been there before.