Sunday, March 8, 2015

Part 3 of an Awesome Week of Birding

Back on Feb. 7th, when Mr. Gordon and I attended the workshop at the Rio Salado Audubon Center, I met Mr. Kurt Radamaker for the first time.  When we got into a conversation,  he asked me if I wanted to come with he and his wife (Ms. Cindy) to the Santa Cruz Flats in Casa Grande, I of course accepted. There were two main target birds that we desired, and they were the Black-throated Blue Warbler and Sprague's Pipit. Both would be lifers for me and the Sprague's would be a state bird for Mr. Kurt. So, on February 8th I took a trip with Mr. Kurt and Ms. Cindy Radamaker to the Santa Cruz Flats. After they picked me up we had about an hour and half of driving before we reached the flats. Our first stop was at the BTB Warbler spot. Once we arrived I just sat down in a ditch and waited and waited, and after that I waited even longer! As we searched the trees we saw a couple birds of note, like a young male American Redstart and an out of season Summer Tanager

American Redstart--Note the black splotches on its neck

Summer Tanager--Female

Our hopes got high when Mr. Kurt said "The warbler is right here, in the closest tree!" Unfortunately this warbler can make one tree seem like a whole forest!  Ten minutes after that I found myself back in the ditch just chillin. But after another hour a fellow birder spotted it again and I got diagnostic views,  we waited about a half our longer before the warbler finally came back to the closest tree on the property!

Black-throated Blue Warbler

After getting good looks at the warbler we headed over to a spot where a Spague's Pipit has been wintering at. As we drove up to the area we ran into a couple of birders that we met at the warbler spot, and they said that they had the bird in their scope! But by the time we arrived, the bird had ducked down and was somewhere in the field.  After searching a little longer we got some great views of the Sprague's Pipit (lifer #2!).

Sprague's Pipit

Once we were done observing this awesome but drab bird, we continued to walk around the field and by the time we were done walking we had 6 different SPPIs!!! There were two couples and two solitary birds. After driving across the fields and sod farms we decided to check out a hotspot by the name of Santa Cruz River-- Sasco Rd, where Mr. Troy Corman had a Palm Warbler the day before. As we arrived at the spot we started hiking through the dense riparian forest. Before long we found a mixed feeding flock where we saw a Winter Wren, a Black-and-white Warbler, and a pair of Lazuli Buntings and a lot of the usual suspects. We then walked back to the car and gave it a try one more time. We didn't have many birds when we walked back, but we did find a Yellow-shafted X Red-shafted Northern Flicker hybrid!

Yellow-shafted X Red-shafted Northern Flicker 

We ended the day with many nice birds to talk about and I again added two lifers (BTB Warbler and SP Pipit)! Thanks Mr. Kurt and Ms. Cindy for the memorable great day of birding! I was very blessed to have been able to travel around AZ this week, and getting six lifers was also very nice. Thanks to everyone who has been kind enough to lug me around lately!

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