So, without making any more excuses, I'll get started. I was very fortunate to spend New Year's in the American Southwest. Of course, birding was not the primary objective, but we do manage to squeeze it in. When Matt had visited last year without me, he came home with all kinds of pictures of dreambirds that were so foreign and wonderful and outside my scope of experience--limited to these drawings in my bird guides, i.e., Roadrunner, Phainopepla, etc.
So it was my time to get caught up. Inevitably a visit to this area involves landing in Vegas, AGAIN, a city for which my primary objective is to get the heck out of there. While feathers are found in abundance on the strip, it's not very interesting in terms of birds (On my last day, I learned that there is actually a bird viewing preserve in nearby Henderson. Next time, and of course there will be a next time, I'll check it out). If you're not interested in shopping, or impressing people with fancy clothes, or gambling at the "money extraction factories," that town sure leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, it is surrounded by much awesomeness, just a few hours' drive away.
So, you can imagine my delight when we are finally headed down Flamingo Drive, away from Las Vegas. It's my first visit to Red Rock. I'd never been to this little Conservation Area so close to Vegas, always opting for the big draws - the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, etc. I was pleasantly surprised and the drive through Red Rock was really nice.
#310; Say's Phoebe; Red Rock Canyon Visitor Centre; December 2014
#311: Rock Wren; Red Rock Canyon Visitor Centre; December 2014
Something is rustling around in the bushes...every once in a while we get a glimpse of a flash of orange. We also spotted the awesome red eye, but this guy was too shy to give as a really good look at him. Anyways, this is enough for me to know that this is...and look at that red eye!
#312: Spotted Towhee; Red Rock Canyon Visitor Centre; December 2014
Not far away, in fact, just steps away, was this wonderful little bird, perched--a familiar bird, but still a beauty to see.
|Western Scrub Jay|
#313: Gambel's Quail; Bullhead City, Arizona; December 2014
The Gambel's Quail were such delight! They teeter-tottered around, almost like they had somewhere to go, and while very skittish, avoided flight at almost any cost. Inevitably they were only spotted in a large mass, and they sounded much like grouse do.
#314: Curve-Billed Thrasher; Bullhead City; December 2014
I also saw this Curve-Billed Thrasher on more than one occasion in the same tree. Actually, it felt a bit like déjà vu, every time we visited this one empty square lot diagonal from our house in Bullhead. We'd start from the road, go up a small hill, every time, there would quail on the ridge to the left, which would run across to the back side of the lot on the ride, our steps would scare a bunny under this one bush, and he'd dart in the same direction, the thrasher would be in the palm tree on the left--it happened like that every time with total predictability. It was like just pushing the reset button every time I went. Groundhog day or whatever.
#315; Cactus Wren; Bullhead City, Arizona; December 2014
Also spotted (from quite far away--this is completely cropped...I can't believe it's distinguishable at all!) was this wee little wren (looks like another rock wren, as seen at Red Rock).
#316: Verdin; Bullhead City; December 2014
Perhaps one of the birds I envied Matt most for seeing last year was the roadrunner. They are hilarious, and a bird we've all been familiar with since childhood. Run like mad, stop, put tail up, look around, run like mad, repeat. Matt made it his personal goal to find me one. The first one was the hardest, but after that, I spotted them several times. And I squealed with delight every single time.
#317; Greater Roadrunner; Bullhead City, Arizona; December 2014
We did a little day trip to Oatman, Arizona, which is on Route 66. This little town is pretty touristy, with wild donkeys roaming the street and fake gunfights put on every day at high noon, but it's only place I managed to find the incredible Phainopepla. Seriously....is that stunning or what?
#318: Phainopepla; Oatman, Arizona; December 2014
|I'm always a sucker for the animals...|