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September 2013 – Chris Llewellyn's "Birds Eye Views"
 

Month: September 2013

Southeast Arizona Birding Trip 2

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Well I know…it’s about time.  Things have been a little hectic for me lately putting out fires so our world still goes around.  Most of you have probably already read Southeast Arizona Birding Trip 1 but if you haven’t, you may want to catch up before continuing.  Remember, you can click on the photo to make it larger if you wish to do so.  Or, you can view all our photos in our ArizonaCollection Gallery.

IMG_3668
Chris setting up camp…first things first

 

I told you how we really liked our find of the Lakeside Casino and Resort in Pahrump, NV but I didn’t share many photos from there with you.  So…I’ll do that now.

 

IMG_3600It really is a beautiful resort.

great-tailed-grackle-d-2-jpg
Great-tailed-grackle female

 

 

Great-tailed Grackle female.  Can you imagine her on steroids??  Scary!

 

 

American Coots
American Coots

 

 

 

I couldn’t get enough of these cute Coot.   Can you say that fast 3 times?  :).  They really are beautiful birds but perhaps most don’t think so because they are so common and they don’t take a second look.

Yellow-headed Blackbird.d.1
Yellow-headed Blackbird

 

These Yellow-headed Blackbirds were new to our portfolio.  It’s pretty amazing when you get a new bird and they are so numerous!   Just goes to show…you go to different locations and you are most likely going to see new birds!

Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon

 

 

Now, take this absolutely beautiful commonly found bird, the Rock Pigeon.  How many have taken the time to reflect on its beautiful colors?  We did.

 

On with the adventure….

Day 8, 28th, Sunday

We left Lakeside Casino and Resort around 9:00AM, taking Hwy 215 to 95 enroute to Yuma.  Funny….we never talked about going to Yuma!!  Filled up at the Casino, paying $3.39pg…yay!  The scenery would be what you expect, more desert and flat roads!

With temps nearing 105, we figured….no problem!  We’ve got the coach deck A/C as well as the cabin A/C that we can run off the generator…right????  Well…not so fast there bunky!  I could tell this was not going to be a good day…first clue…  Yep!  Both quit working.  Kitty started to have a heat stroke so of course, I started heat stroking out too….Chris…well, Chris was fine!  I unhitched my belt and frantically grabbed a package of frozen veggies and put it on kitty.  Luckily….her hair did not freeze onto the bag as it was so darn hot the veggies were defrosting rapidly.  It did the trick and kitty quit her panting and her looks slowly started to come back to normal instead of…..MOMMA!!!!!  what’s going on?  Why is it so unbearably hot in my Kittybago!????  Poor thing.

Unfortunately, kitty used up all the coldness of the frozen veggies and there was no relief left for Momma.  Not many clothes left to take off so…tough it out missy birder…  OK…  We pulled into the Colorado River Oasis RV Park around 4:30, traveling 260 miles.  It was right on the Colorado River and right on the Nevada/Arizona line.  A beautiful location but I really wasn’t in the mood for beautiful location right at the moment.  I was in the mood for some A/C and fast!  However, fast was not an option.  The manager was also a real estate agent and she was signing up a deal as we pulled in so…who’s she going to make more money from, an RV space or 100 acres of prime Colorado River front??  Well, guess you know who had to wait!  IMHO, there was not enough shade and the internet was pretty lousy but in my heat coma, I rated this place a 3.5 out of 5.

I started calling right away to find someone to fix our A/C but…well….I guess we were out in the middle of nowhere in a town called Blythe and nobody could tell us if we were in Nevada or Arizona so I didn’t know exactly where we were when they asked!  No luck, I’ll try again in the AM….give me a drink!  A cool one!

Day 9, 29th April, Monday

After ten or 500 calls (remember, I’m still in a heat coma), no fixy the A/C in Blythe!  It was heating up fast.  Chris!  Let’s get the heck out of here and get somewhere where there is someone to fix our A/C!  We left at 8:45 for Royal Palms RV park taking the I10 to Phoenix…yeah…I knew there’d be someone in Phoenix to fix this darn A/C!  But…when we got the the Royal Palms, it was a senior place with just a little RV park in the center of the complex.  It looked nice enough but…we decided to head on over to the Desert’s Edge RV Park instead and glad we did.  It’s just another RV park, no seniors unless they are in their RV’s!  Needless to say, we only drove 130 miles that day.  Ahhhhhhhhh…..you guesssed it!  A/C at last!  Well, from the electrical hookup anyway!

Day 10-12, 30-May 2

Stuck in Phoenix.  Isn’t there a song named that?  I finally got hold of someone to come out and fix our A/C unit and the generator.  Well, one out of two wasn’t bad, at least we got the gennie running.  Great!  We are good to get the heck out of Phoenix…well…almost!

I had had a CT just before we left Oregon and the results go out to several doctors, one of them being my ever so confident and superb urologist Dr. David Esrig in Eugene, OR.  He called and wanted me to have a renal scan.  This would be to make sure my kidney is still functioning correctly thru the ureter they had to reattach with a portion of my small intestine from my first cancer surgery.  So much for heading back to the countrysides!  We found a hospital to do the scan.  Two days of waiting before we get the report…. a ok!  All right!   We are clear for takeoff…nooooooOOOOO…high winds that day kept us grounded for yet another day in hot, crowded, noisy Phoenix!

We will not be detoured from our Arizona birding for long!  The next day we decided to take I17 and head to Prescott, AZ where our good friends Bob and Jodie are.  We went to a nice place for lunch and they gave us THE tour of Prescott.  Quite a lovely town I must say.  We returned the back way over 89 through the ranch country.  Chris pulled into a little quiet treed rest stop where there were birds!! Yes!!  Birds!!!!

Vermillion Flycatcher
Vermillion Flycatcher

 

 

One of my favorite birds (there are so many!), the magnificent Vermillion Flycatcher.  Some of you may remember…we drove all over lower Baja trying to find this bird!  We saw them often in Arizona at this time of year.

 

 

Probably about the best thing about being in Phoenix besides getting our A/C fixed (yaaayyy!), was the time we got to spend with friends and family.  That’s it.  I can’t find anything else nice about it.  Wayyyyyyyy too many people for our taste!  Let’s get to the country!  The mountains!  The prairies!  The birds!

Day 13-17, May 3-7

Yes!  We left Phoenix at 9:20 filling up the Kittybago at $3.37pg.  We took I17 to the 10 to Benson, Pato Blanco RV Park.  Another nice park, yes!  We arrive at 2:30, driving 180 miles.  You could hear the trains and freeway traffic here but the pond side setting was very nice.  It was clean and had a laundry and nice pool.  We went out for dinner to Mi Casa and it was an excellent choice.  A/C still working fine…in the coach, but…not the cab!

Day 14 we headed out to the bird rich Chiricahua mountains in our trusty Jeep Wrangler.

Chiracahua Mountains
Chiricahua Mountains

One of the things I found really neat while birding this area is that you just drive and drive from the flat area where you park your RV and the mountains are wayyyyyy at the end of the straight road.  They keep getting closer and closer and then you are looking down at the flat land when you get to the top.  We did this many times and I was just as infatuated the last time as the first time.

So, here we are going up the mountain,  averaging about 20 or 25 mph, our usual while birding by vehicle.  We are seeing a fantastic amount of birds and are also rewarded with great scenic beauty.  After several hours, we get to the top, start down the other side (the New Mexico side) and while descending the mountain, we started to smell something that wasn’t quite right.  We weren’t too concerned at the moment.  We stopped to photograph a bird and when we got back to the Jeep and started her up, we smelled something burning, no question about it this time.  Houston….we have a problem!

Chris turned the Jeep off and we could hear this humming/buzzing noise.  I throw everything I can into my carry all purse/bag and grab my camera and mono pod and jump out of the Jeep, yelling at Chris to get out!  It’s going to burn up!  You see…my eyes were pretty wide.

Chris, of course not as scared as I, was lifting up the hood!  Chris!  Don’t do that!  It may be on fire!!!  Well…he did anyway.  We finally figured out it was the starter burning up.  Great…no traffic, hours away from civilization and no cell service…!!  Where’s Phoenix when you need it???

We ended up coasting down the road as far as we were able (some of those hills were iffy!) to the Southwestern Research Station several miles down the road.  It took me about 2 hours to finally get hold of someone that would come and tow us back to Benson, AZ.  Sure, we had towing with our insurance carrier but it was something stupid like 75 miles towing.  We were hundreds of miles from our RV Park! Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 5.04.21 PM

We waited around 4 hours for the tow truck to get there.  Everyone at the Research Center had gone home and we were getting cold, hungry and getting VERY tired.  They finally found us after dark and it was a very long 4 hour ride back to our RV, having dual blowouts on the tow trailer on the way.  We got home around 11:00PM with a HUGE towing bill!  We prefer not to have our full days of happy birding end like this!  🙂

Day 15, 5TH

While the Jeep is getting a new starter put in, we decided that it might be a good day for relaxing around the pool with our friends Bob and Jodie who had come over to stay a few nights.  Chris, being the wonderful guy he is, knew I was still frizzled and frazzled from the previous not so wonderful ending birding day so he did the laundry in between swims and I just sunned and swam!  What a great guy, huh?  They don’t come any better.

Stay tuned for Southeast Arizona Birding Trip 3!

 

More accomplishments by these Baja Birders.

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Xantus's Hummingbird
Xantus’s Hummingbird

Not to be “tooting our own horn” or anything like that but the image of the Xantus’s Hummingbird (yes, the bird on the cover of our book “Birds We See in Baja“) was purchased by Dr. David Price-Goodfellow.  This photo is to be included in his upcoming book, Hummingbirds of the World.  He found our picture on-line after searching for Xantus’s images.  Sad to say, someone had bootlegged our copyrighted photo to claim as their own but Dr. Goodfellow, owner of a publishing company, found us.  So, for now on we will be watermarking our original photographs to keep the scoundrels from stealing our works.  This has happened before and I’ve had enough of these doggone thieves.

Now that the smoke has cleared in my little room I’ve decided to post some pictures of little birds.  Some of these birds many people never have the chance to see.  Some hide in the deep, dark seclusion of brushy bushes and trees.  This makes them very challenging to shoot as they are always moving and the light is often poor.  Check out this Golden-crowned  Kinglet.   This was taken in our backyard on the Oregon Coast.

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Golden-crowned Kinglet

For those of us that wander around the Baja deserts and arroyos, this little guy (below) can be glimpsed flicking it’s tail as it moves around in the scrubs. That “tail flicking” scares up the insects the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher feeds on.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

This little feller is a Canyon Wren.  If you’ve read our book or downloaded the Kindle version you would know that the male Canyon Wren lays a path of pebbles to lead females to the nest.  No Mexican tile or concrete but still an amazing feat for a bird?

Canyon Wren
Canyon Wren

Below, we have a little Baja visitor.  The Cassin’s Vireo  spends the winters in Baja.  Can’t blame it a bit.  This shot was taken at the lagoons in La Ribera.

Cassin's Vireo
Cassin’s Vireo

Here’s a bird that can be really difficult to shoot.  This Common Yellowthroat was photographed at the San Jose Estuary where many species of birds flourish.

Common Yellowthroat
Common Yellowthroat

The Belding’s Yellowthroat, an endangered Baja endemic, is not so fortunate to be like his cousin, the Common Yellowthroat, that is “common”.  I’ve been screaming to deaf ears for as long as I can remember that loss of habit is killing off these birds.  I was even laughed at by XXXXXXX, a famous birding institute, when I wrote about the potential to lose this bird.  Now it is listed as endangered!  Build it and they will come, and the birds will be gone.

Belding's Yellowthroat
Belding’s Yellowthroat

Now that I’ve gotten myself all upset I’ll switch gears a little.  Just a little.  If you sit above the sea , maybe on a little bluff, you might be lucky enough to see an Eared Grebe.  This is the most abundant type of Grebe in the world.  Click on the link and then click the little arrow on “Typical Voice” to listen to the Eared Grebe.

Eared Grebes
Eared Grebes

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed that each year we have fewer and fewer birds in Baja.  Maybe with the exception of European Starlings, (not pointing any fingers).  I used to see many little Gray Flycatchers in our yard in Baja.  I’m still waiting to see one this winter.  Didn’t see any last year.

Gray Flycatcher
Gray Flycatcher

Many Baja birders have hummingbird feeders.  If you do, you may have seen this little warbler trying to feed on the sugar water.  This is an Orange-crowned Warbler.  A numerous and common Warbler throughout the U.S.

Orange-crowned Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler

Thats it for today. Enjoy and Happy Birding!

 

Our Baja Birds Ebook for Kindle is taking off!

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Oly and Lotta Tidbits have been working long hours on publishing “Birds We See” for Kindle so I’m taking the day off.  I think I’ll just kick back for a bit and cruise our photos and look for some favorites to share with you.

Xantus's Hummingbird
Xantus’s Hummingbird

This Xantus’s Hummingbird was shot using one of our Cannon T2i cameras with a 100X400 ISO lens.  This was taken at 1/4000 s.s.  “They” say you can’t stop a hummer’s wings without flash and strobe but this is pretty close.  I still think flash photography may harm birds and until I’m convinced otherwise, I’m not using added light.

White-faced Ibis
White-faced Ibis

I’ve always enjoyed this pic of 2 White-faced Ibises.  They were flying over the Lagoon in La Ribera.  We have some of our photographs mounted on canvas to look like paintings.  Maybe this one?

White Winged Dove
White Winged Dove

White-winged Doves are fantastic subjects to photograph.  They seem to know how beautiful they are.  I’m not so sure about striking a pose on top of a cactus.

Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret

This Snowy Egret might be another candidate for the wall.  I just don’t know.

San Lucan Robin
San Lucan Robin

Maybe not the prettiest bird around, this San Lucan Robin is 1 of only 2 I’ve ever seen.  Also shot near the La Ribera lagoon.  Reported to be a subspecies of the American Robin and a Baja Endemic.

Red Tailed Hawk
Red Tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawks are common in Baja.  They love to feed on those Spiny-tailed Iguanas you see sunning on top of a cardon cactus.  They come in different “morphs” but almost always show a dark belly-band.

Great Egret
Great Egret

And the last shot of the day.  A Great Egret.  Larger than a Snowy Egret, no yellow “slippers” and this bird has yellow bill.  Happy Birding!

 

Birds We See for Kindle

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Our book “Birds We See” in Baja California Sur, Mexico is now available for your Kindle.  After many hours and sleepless nights Oly, who we all know doesn’t take to technology very well, managed to format the book in Ebook fashion.  Now, for $4.99 you can download a copy to your Kindle or Kindle Fire.  If you would like the gift quality, coffee table version just go to our home page and click on books.  Dealer discounts apply and remember, we support ovarian cancer research by donating a portion of the book’s profits for a great cause.  Many of our readers are helping us and we hope you will too.

These have been both exhausting and rewarding times for Debbie (Lotta Tidbits) and me.  First, seemingly from out of nowhere our website, BirdsWeSee.com was awarded the Perky Pet “Eye in the Sky” badge for excellence and determination in bird photography and now we finally succeeded in having our book published as an Ebook.

Here goes a few more photos from our Kittybago Arizona bird migration vacation.  A female Vermillion Flycatcher building her nest.  So delicate.

Vermillion Flycatcher
Vermillion Flycatcher

And here’s her boyfriend watching us watching her.

Vermillion Flycatcher
Vermillion Flycatcher

This Great-horned Owl also studied us as he guarded the nest built up in the rafters.

Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl

Everybody loves raptors.  Check out this Sharp-shinned Hawk, named for his skinny legs.

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk

And this bird is a Song Sparrow doing what he does best, singing a song for all to hear.

Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow

A handsome little bird he is.

Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow

Many female birds seem to get a bad rap.  Most of the time they are just not as colorful as the males.  This female Summer Tanager  makes up for her lack of color by singing the sweetest melodies from near the tree-tops.

Summer Tanager
Summer Tanager

 

Summer Tanager
Summer Tanager

Thats all for today, time for a nap.