Monday, March 2, 2015

Part 2 of an Awesome Week of Birding

On February 7th I went on a rarity ramble across the East Valley with Mr. Gordon Karre. We met at the Rio Salado Audubon Center early in the morning to head over to Coon Bluff. I had gone to Coon Bluff three days before, with Mr. Tommy and missed a beautiful adult Harris's Sparrow that has been hanging out with a small flock of White-crowned Sparrows. Mr. Gordon saw this bird about a week ago and crushed it, so I guess Mr. Gordon seems to be a HASP magnet. We arrived at Coon Bluff before the sun rose, so we birded around the the river for a bit before heading towards the sparrow spot. Coon Bluff is one of the best spots in the state to see Phainopepla. Everywhere we looked there was a Phainopepla or two on top of a mesquite! Here are some photos of the abundant species seen around the mesquite bosque areas.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Gila Woodpecker

I present to you "The Phainopepla!"



Gila Woodpecker with a Phainopepla in the background

Once the sun rose we drove over to the spot where the Harris's has been seen.We then hiked through the area for a good hour before walking onto the other side of the road. After coming up empty on the other side of the road Mr. Gordon asked me "So what do you want to do now Caleb?" I then told him "Maybe we could check the area one more time, really quick" So we searched the area where the sparrow has been seen most of the time. Mr. Gordon and I then split up a little ways when I saw a sparrow right in front of me, when I lifted my binocs this is what I saw.

A few things stood out with this bird: it had a bright bill and legs, it had whitish flanks, and its face was plain. That was when I knew it was the Harris's Sparrow!!! The bird then perched on the ground in the shade of the tree (which I guess it does a LOT!) 

Harris's Sparrow

After the bird flew away I then got Mr. Gordon and told him I had the bird. His excitement all of a sudden rose and we found our selves getting great shaded looks at the Hansom Harris's!

Harris's Sparrow

After watching the bird for a while it even came out into the light!

Harris's Sparrow

We then told Harris goodbye and drove over to our next stop at ASU, where a Chestnut-sided Warbler had been seen. As soon as we arrived I started pishing and the bird responded very well!

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Then we drove over to Arrowhead to look for a Eurasian Wigeon that has been seen over the winter. When Mr. Gordon parked the car he quickly saw it from across the pond. Once we walked around the lake we were rewarded with amazing views, and at one time I could have picked up the bird! Hey, that's not a bad idea, I could kidnap the bird and drop it off at one of the ponds on my Patch and count it for my patch list! Nah, I guess I have to find my own.

Eurasian Wigeon

After watching the wigeon for a while we returned to Rio Salado to do a little birding before a class, that was at the Audubon Center. We didn't see anything out of the ordinary but I saw I super strange back lit Gadwall, that made me think of a Red-necked Grebe! I had a fun day of birding and got two more lifers, once again (HASP and EUWI). Thanks Mr. Gordon for the enjoyable day of lifering!


  1. Caleb, you have been rocking it lately! Congrats on all your rare finds, lifers, and just cool birds in general. Keep up the good work and find some more cool stuff or at least tie that wigeon's leg to a post because I'll be in town before the month's over!

    1. Thanks Mr. Josh!!! I sure hope the rarity finding continues as spring pulls in. I just got back last night from tying up the wigeon; )

  2. Great post! Love the close up of the female PHAI, that was awesome for her to allow the close approach. Great birds and a great day! Thank you Caleb!

  3. You're welcome, and thank you too! It was a great day to be out birding and the birds were awesome.