Sunday, 8 April 2012

Birding By Numbers and 300 is a Big Number

I am returning to Canada tomorrow after I left Canada on February 29 having seen 210 species of birds in the first 60 days of 2012.

I saw 32 birds in 33 days in Florida.  Not bad considering I had to go to work full time, all but two of those days.

I saw 21 species in Ash Canyon, including 10 new Year Birds on April 4

April 5 I Birded around Tucson and Patagonia Lake State Park with Melody Kehl and saw 98 species in 12 hours, including adding another 42 species bringing my big year to 294.

Which brings us to Las Vegas and 3 wildlife refuges within a 15 minute drive of the Las Vegas Strip.  I only had a few hours to bird on Thursday morning and another couple of hours on Friday morning, fitting the birding in before and after work.  I visited the City of Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve where I didn't even bother keeping track of all the species I saw, there were so many, as well as Duck Creek and the Clark CountyWetlands, just down the road.

I lost count of the total species seen, though it was probably close to 50, but I did 6 new species including two more Hummingbirds, two new Swallows,(there were hundreds flying around the ponds), yet another gull and another gnatcatcher, this time a Black-tailed, that I would never have found if I hadn't been chasing down a Marsh Wren.  I heard the Wren calling and was chasing it off the trail into the scrub and bushes, but never got a great look at it.  However, when I turned to leave I spotted the Black-tailed Gnatcatcher and got a nice photo.  They are, along with the even more rare Black-capped gnatcatcher, only seen in southern Arizona, but the black-tailed also finds it's way into some parts of Nevada.

I missed getting any good photos of the Swallows, as they just flew and flew and circled and made sure to never be anywhere near my camera when I wanted to photograph them.  I could look with my eyes, even get good looks through my binoculars at times, but, please, no photos of the Diva Swallows.

My big miss was the Greater Roadrunner.  Yes, that one, the nemesis of Wile E Coyote from the Bugs Bunny Cartoons, but with out the "Beep Beep" sound effects.

The Roadrunner, it turned out has become my southern Arizona nemesis too.  I kept being told how people had just seen one, and even had a lady tell me she photographed lots of them.  She showed me the photos on her camera and they turned out to be Gambles Quail, which run pretty fast, rarely fly and at a distance could be mistaken for Roadrunners.  I know on several occasions I was even fooled, briefly by them.  I kept thinking, there's one.  Nope.  Oh, there's one.  Nope.  Quite frustrating.  I can seen why the Coyote became that crazy clown who could never, ever run that Roadrunner down.

That was me.  At one point a park official sent me to the top of an embankment, on the far side of the preserve, and said if I scanned the desert below, I might just see a Roadrunner.  I hiked to the spot,(it was also said a White-faced Ibis might be there too-nope), and  stood on the embankment overlooking the dessert floor.  I scanned the barren desert floor.  Nothing.  Now, I was the crazy clown, with my Acme Binoculars, hoping for one, brief glimpse of a Greater Roadrunner.  Melody couldn't get me one in Arizona and I failed to spot one of the easier birds to see in the desert.  Seemed everyone I talked to had seen it.  But not me.  So now I had something in common with a cartoon character too.  Except, Wile E. actually saw the Roadrunner.  I never did.

Getting back to the numbers, though I did see a lot of different species in the Nevada Desert, I was able to add 4 more birds to my total, giving me a nice round number:

300 birds in 96 days in 2012

I did see lots of Gamble's Quail:

This was as close as I got to seeing a Greater Roadrunner: