Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Southwest #2: Tristate birding (319-322)

When you grow up on the Great Lakes, and you spend your days exploring woodlands and water, Bullhead is a very strange place. There are no lawns--certainly property, but it's hard to tell where one ends and another begins when it's just a bunch of gravel and dirt everywhere. It's dry, very very dry, and not much of anything, even cacti grow. Bullhead City, Arizona, and Laughlin, Nevada, straddle the (mighty) Colorado River, and here, where there is some water, and even some vegetation, there is a little more action. So we spent quite a bit of time walking up and down along the river, checking out the birds, but also the feral cats (we did not see the raccoons or skunks that hang out with them) and apparently, a resident beaver. Wildlife!

The first bird of major interest was this brown one skulking around...very tricky to get in clear view. We managed, though light was clearly fading. I was completely unfamiliar with this bird (you know, one of those ones you don't even really pay attention to in your guidebook because it's range is so very limited. It looked an awful lot like a cardinal, but obviously it is not with that brown colouring. So, it was very cool to locate it in the book and discover we'd seen a bird I wasn't even really aware existed (though it SHOULD have rung a bell--it's the first bird in the alphabetical listings on Whatbird.com). Fortunately, we ended up seeing them quite a few times along the river...but always so difficult to photograph!

#319: Abert's Towhee; Colorado River Heritage Greenway Parks and Trails (Laughlin); December 2014
Another mockingbird on another prickly tree

There were many, many ducks fighting the flow of the Colorado. So many American coots--I really should have taken a pictures just to show how many--really unbelievable! However, we were always on the lookout to see what else might be mixed in with them, and we weren't disappointed!
Northern Pintail
We also spotted some ring-necked ducks (in addition to some we had seen in a golf course pond earlier on the way to Oatman)--a bird I have somehow managed not to see, or pick out, at home.

#320: Ring-necked duck; Colorado River Heritage Greenway Parks and Trails (Laughlin); December 2014
And then, we hit what I might call the duck jackpot (while most people in Laughlin are looking for some other kind of jackpot). A pintail, ring-necked ducks and American wigeons in a little flotilla together!
The duck jackpot even gave us a bonus round---another lifer--another duck I have no excuses for not finding closer to home.

#321: Redhead; Colorado River between Lauglin and Bullhead City; December 2014
There were so many yellow-rumped warblers--some birds were in absolute abundance, like the coots.

My best guess is orange-crowned warbler
Walking along the river, we heard a familiar sound, which helped us to locate this flicker. I think it's a regular northern flicker, though I secretly hoped it was a gilded. Unfortunately I can't tell for sure with this picture...I'll have to find another one!
We were both incredibly excited when we realized the little blue-grey bird darting around was a blue-grey gnatcatcher! I remember when one lone one was reported at Mud Lake years ago and I wandered around for hours looking for it to no avail.

#322: Blue-gray gnatcatcher; Laughlin/Bullhead City; December 2014

Further along and across a few state lines, we found ourselves in amazing Utah, in Zion National Park. Our focus wasn't birding (it was, however, reaching the peak of Angels Landing), but we did manage to spot a few birds at the base of the trail, including this cutie, a species that I forgot I already saw on a previous trip west.

Another bushtit
Quite certain this is a golden-crowned kinglet, with the giveaway hidden

All in all, another wonderful trip.
Dear amazing, amazing Utah: I'll be back.