Friday, October 17, 2014

The early and the late: A treck for the Bell's

On October 11th I took a trip with fellow birders Mr. Tommy Debardeleben, Mr. Laurence Butler, and Mr. Gordon Karre. Our target bird was the Bell's Sparrow, Mr. Tommy took a trip out to Robbin's Butte to scout the area and found around twelve and only one or two Sagebrush!!! Just incase some of you don't know the Sage Sparrow has been split in two species, the Bell's and the Sagebrush Sparrows. The Sagebrush is much more common than the Bell's. There are only a couple spots in Maricopa County where you can find both in a day, and one of those spots is the Thrasher Spot located in west Buckeye. When we parked the car and walked a little ways we could hear a couple Sage Sparrows calling but we could not tell what species they were without seeing them. We noticed a strange behavior that the sparrows stay low early in the morning but around 8:00AM the sparrows started coming higher in the bushes and scattered trees, this same behavior happened when Mr. Tommy was here a couple days before. Out of the six Bell's Sparrows I was able to shoot one quick photo of one of the birds, it might not be the best but you can see a bit of the birds plain back and the dark maler.
 As we were on the treck for the Bell's, Mr. Laurence found a pair of mating Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnakes under a mesquite.

On our way back to the car I saw something move right behind Mr. Tommy and I looked in the bush and found a Gopher Snake! So I dropped to the ground and after about a minute of untagling the snake from the bush I caught it! Here is a photo Mr. Laurence took for me.

There was also a late Western Kingbird that decided to stop by.
Our next stop was the Arlington Wildlife Area. On our way there we saw what happened to be the all time highlight of the day!

While we were on our way to Arlington Mr. Tommy saw a flock of birds, and he quickly called them Rock Pigeons!!! When he called them out everyone reached back for their binocs and cameras (and yes there were a few fists and elbows thrown around) and we photographed Arizona's first ever Rock Pigeons!!!

Unfortunatly, I don't know if you noticed but that wasn't the true story, It was more like this.

Mr. Tommy yelled Rock Pigeons and everyone laghed at them. Good story huh?!

You pick what story you like better, anyways back to the trip! When we arrived at the road that leads to the Arlington Wetlands we saw it had been flooded out by the recent storms, so we took our own detour which ended up with some nice birds. Before we reached the wetlands we saw a Lewis's Woodpecker take flight in the opposite direction from us, of course! Once we reached the wetlands we were greeted by quite a few Cassin's Kingbirds.
Arlington had a few highlights including Sora, Virginia Rail, Least Bittern (all audio), Green-winged Teal, and Crissal Thrasher.
From left to right: Mr. Laurence, Mr. Tommy, and Mr. Gordon
We then had to start heading back, I then noticed a high flying Common Black Hawk!

Here are a few extremely cropped photos.

The CBHA was a pretty late migrant and it was strange to see in this habitat, but it was most likely just migrating through like most of the birds we saw. Thanks for the awesome morning af birding Mr. Tommy, Mr. Gordon , and Mr. Laurence I had a blast!!! Here are a few photos to close out this post.
Northern Harrier

Black-crowned Night-Heron
Greater Roadrunner


  1. Congrats on the photo of the Bell's Sparrow! I will be headed out there again this winter to see if I can get anything as good. Great write up and started laughing at the ROPI stories!

    1. Thanks Mr. Gordon!!! I had a great time birding with you guys. I am sure a trip to the Thrasher Spot and Robbin's Butte will provide good numbers of Bell's. Hey it's always an awesome day of birding when you get a Rock Pigeon if not a whole flock!

  2. Good herpin', good birdin'. That birder action shot of everybody looking at the Common Black-Hawk is a fun photo that shows the urgency and intensity that comes with this sport - it'd make a great birder mag cover!

    1. Thanks Mr. Josh!!! I will have to try to send the photo to some local audubon groups or something. I love reptiles nearly as much as birds, they are just so hard to find at times.