Monday, December 28, 2015

Birding Hard with the Noe!

     Recently, my good friend Walker Noe has come back down to his hometown of Phoenix, AZ, to visit with his friends and family, and of course BIRD HARD!!! To start off the bird hardness Walker, Mr. Tommy DeBardeleben and I started off with Crystal Gardens in search of the recently reported geese in the area. It didn't take us long to find a Greater White-fronted Goose and a Cackling Goose mixed in with the many Canada Geese.

Greater White-fronted Goose

Cackling Goose

After Crystal we spent a little time at Tres Rios before I had to head out. The continuing Yellow-throated Warbler along with a few other ongoing rarities made this stop worth the gas. Our next BIRD HARD trip was at the Santa Cruz Flats near Casa Grande. We had three main targets and they were 1. Mountain Plover, 2. Sprague's Pipit, and 3. Crested Caracara. On our way to the Flats we got Walker's lifer Sandhill Cranes in the Arlington Area. Upon reaching the Santa Cruz Flats, I spied a few distant birds in a dead-grass field and found that they were our lifer Mountain Plovers!

Photographing MOPLs is not easy. The flat short-grass fields that they prefer make approaching these birds unnoticed is nearly impossible! However, two plovers, named Jackson and Albert, allowed close views, and they literally walked towards us even though we were already close! Jackson was our main subject for photography though.

Jackson the Mountain Plover

Jackson and Albert waving "Bye!"

While we observed the many Mountain Plovers in the area Walker and I found 7 Sprague's Pipits! Only one SPPI allowed us to get fairly close views though.

Sprague's Pipit

We then drove over to the Red Mountain Feed Lots to look for our last target for the Santa Cruz Flats, the Crested Caracara. After looking for a while we noticed 7 caracaras in a field but they were too far for my camera to get a half-decent shot. The rest of the day was full of dips (fails) and we pretty much spent the rest of the day hanging out. The next day we woke up super early in the morning to drive out to Yuma in search of a recently reported Streak-backed Oriole at a place called Riverside Park. After a long drive we parked near the windy park and started scanning the area. After Walker, four other birders, and I scanned the area for over a half hour I spied the bird in a distant tree!

Edwardo the Streak-backed Oriole

The bird then flew into a much closer group of trees and we had amazing views of this Mexican rarity.

Streak-backed Oriole

After observing this bird for a few minutes more he flew up high into a large tree and we yelled "Bye Edwardo!"

Walker and I then continued birding around the area and noticed a female American Redstart foraging in a distant cottonwood.

American Redstart

After one more look at the Streak-backed Oriole Walker and I drove back down to Phoenix and ended our "Dream Team" birding for AZ. However, this is only a near 6th of my birding in the next week! "What do you mean" well Birding With Caleb is moving up to Idaho and Washington for the next week!


  1. So cool! Next up Snowies and Great Grays!

  2. You guys certainly are the Maricopa Co. Dream Team! Caleb and Walker, enjoy your time in Idaho and Washington!

    1. Hahaha! Thanks Josh!!! I'll keep you posted on what we see. Pray for Great Gray and Snowy Owls ;)Have a great week!