Thursday, February 19, 2015

My Monthly Post on My Patch: December and Jauary

December and January have been two of the best months of birding I have had on my Patch. I've found quite a few rarities and even a few lifers! So, I present to you an awesome, but late two months of birding on my Patch!

On January 2nd, I found a first for my patch, Hermit Thrush. I know, most of you have probably had one or two HETHs in your yard, but a patcher is a patcher. Continuing with my patch birding, I was out birding on December 4th about an eighth of a mile from my house and I heard my lifer and patch bird 199 Grasshopper Sparrow, calling from an alfalfa field. But I wasn't exactly elated about tramping through the field in front of my neighbor's house who happens to be a cop. The following Sunday I took my first morning of patch birding in a long time. I decided to hike, bike, and bird around a riparian forest south of Dean and Beloat roads. As I stopped in the middle of a nice clearing I started to hear a call that I had just heard at Hassayampa a couple of weeks before. I then approached the sound when I noticed it was my 200th patch bird, a Winter Wren! As I pished and waited I got a couple of nice looks at this tiny little skulker. I also found another new bird for my patch, a Brown Creeper.

Winter Wren

Brown Creeper

The next "Booya Moment" I had was when I found a McCown's Longspur on December 18th, and then on the following day I found two McCown's Longspurs and my lifer Lapland Longspur.  The last time I saw these birds February 12th 2015 my count was at 3 McCown's and 3 Laplands! Unfortunately today I went searching for them without being able to even find the flock of Horned Larks that they stay with.

Lapland Longspur


McCown's Longspur

Lapland giving McCown "the dirty look"

On January 1st Mr. John Kafel and I found a first for my patch,  Ross's Goose to start off the year!

Ross's Goose

On January 8th I found a beautiful adult male American Redstart south of Dean and Beloat. I knew I was going to see an adult male AMRE some day and somewhere but I didn't think it was going to be in AZ or even better, my Patch!

American Redstart

I then returned to the riparian area on January 19th and had a 7 warbler species day, one of which I did not expect at all! As I started to scan the trees for some different songbirds I heard a Black-throated Gray Warbler calling, so I approached  the mixed feeding flock when I saw what I believed was the BTYW but it just didn't seem right. As I looked up at the tree I couldn't see any movement but after waiting a little while I got a glimpse of the bird as it hopped on the other side of the tree. This bird was a major pain in the undertail coverts, and talking about undertail coverts that was the only part of the bird I was able to see, but when I did see its white undertail coverts with black streaking I knew it was a Black-and white Warbler!!! It took me over fifteen minutes of looking through the forest in frustration to finally get an okay look, and after that the bird was starting to calm down.

Black-and-white Warbler

On one of my expeditions around my patch I found an awesome "Taiga" Merlin.


The next amazing encounter on my Patch was on January 26th when I found a Greater Pewee near my house. And then on the 28th I went in search of the pewee with Mr. Tommy D and we didn't just relocate the pewee, but we found a Broad-billed Hummingbird! Unfortunately the hummingbird didn't want its picture taken.

Greater Pewee

I set a goal for 2015 to reach 200 species of bird by biking and hiking, and I ended January with 114 species. I have no idea whether or not I will reach my goal, a part of me says "ha I only have 86 species left, this will be easy" but I only have a little over 200 species for my overall patch list, and that is in the last few years, but I can say one thing and that is that I know it's gonna be a close one. Thanks for reading and who knows what may be found next, will it be a Red-throated Pipit hanging with a huge flock of its more common cousins, or will it be my very overdue lifer Chestnut-collared Longspur, stay tuned to find out!


  1. This is great stuff Caleb; you seem to have one of the most diverse and rarity-magnet patches in Maricopa!

    I'd love to chase those Longspurs too, maybe after one last try this winter for good Bell's Sparrows photos.

    1. Thanks Mr. Laurence! I am very blessed to live in such an awesome area. Good luck with the Bell's!

  2. Great post with some dynamite birds! Maybe next year the longspurs will return and maybe with a little luck I will be able to find them, maybe with a bit of your help!

  3. Thanks Mr. Gordon! I will search my Patch hard next winter, and I will be more than happy to show you them!