Southwest Birders
Read about our adventures and thoughts on birding in Arizona, California, and other locales. Check back weekly for updates!

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California Adventure, Apr 2-8, 2013
Filed under: General, California
Posted by: Henry @ 10:22 pm

Göran, Lena, and I had a fine week-long birding adventure starting just south of San Francisco.  We visited the redwoods, Big Sur, the San Jacinto Mts., the Salton Sea, Anza Borrego, the Laguna Mts., and San Diego, ending up with 214 species.  Some of our highlights are here; a day-by-day account with more photos will be up on our website soon!

At Monterey we listened to crying Pigeon Guillemots.

Big Sur was foggy, but we perservered and got a Spotted Owl the first night and two California Condors the next afternoon.  At Piedras Blancas we saw a huge Elephant Seal nursery.

The San Jacintos provided a wealth of montane birds, including White-headed Woodpecker.  At the Salton Sea we got Snowy Plover, many Ospreys, and five charasmatic Burrowing Owls.

Anza Borrego afforded us views of a spectacular desert bighorn.  In the Laguna Mts. we watched a flock of Tricolored Blackbirds at Jacumba, Pine Siskins at the Julian Birdwatcher, and then both heard and spied the elusive Mountain Quail along Kitchen Creek Road.

Our final day was spent birding San Diego in the wind and rain; a dozen Surfbirds on the Imperial Beach jetty were loving it.

The days flew by, and ended with a Red-crowned Parrot screeching his goodbyes as I left Göran and Lena at Fisherman’s Landing–where they caught a pelagic trip to Baja!

Good birding!

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Cibola NWR
Filed under: General, California
Posted by: Henry @ 7:36 pm

Greetings Birders,

This morning (Apr 1, 2013) I spent about 2 1/2 hours at Cibola NWR and came up with a list of 50 species.  Best birds were 2 NEOTROPICAL CORMORANTS at the farmer’s pond in Palo Verde and a MASKED DUCK at the Hart Mine Marsh.

A CRISSAL THRASHER was close to the new Colorado River bridge. A BELL’S VIREO was singing on the Cornfield Nature Trail, but otherwise the trail was pretty quiet.  As expected, the geese, waterfowl, and cranes have all departed.  Three BURROWING OWLS were visible along the Goose Loop.

At the Hart Mine Marsh a KILLDEER was incubating four eggs and the YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS were drowning out everything but the MARSH WRENS.  Didn’t hear one rail.  The best bird of the day (the MASKED DUCK) showed briefly, and then disappeared in the reeds.  A poor photos follows:

Masked Duck at Cibola NWR

Directions to these areas are in my new La Paz County bird-finding guide:

Good hunting!

New Year’s in Yuma County
Filed under: General, Arizona
Posted by: Henry @ 9:53 pm

Greetings Birders,

Meandered about Yuma County from sunup to sundown on New Year’s Day, and wound up with 95 species.  The complete list is below.

Yuma County Sunrise, 1 Jan 2013

Started off with a gorgeous sunrise at the Yuma West Wetlands. The usuals were all present, and a Common Merganser flying along the river was a treat.

At Cocopah RV Resort 22 Hooded Mergansers swimming in one of the golf course ponds was a sight to see.  A Herring Gull at the sewage treatment pond was the first “rare” bird of the year.

Hooded Merganser, 1 Jan 2013

South of Co 19th Street I put in 1.5 hours counting raptors, and saw the following:
- Red-tailed Hawk: 51
- Ferruginous Hawk:  37
- American Kestrel: 6
- Northern Harrier: 13
In addition, I re-located 4 Mountain Plover in the same field as Al and I saw on Saturday.

Mountain Plover, 1 Jan 2013

The Wellton area was quiet in the “heat” of the day except for the sleeping Barn Owl at Green Acres RV Resort.

In the cottonwood stand at Quigley was a male Red-naped Sapsucker, and a couple miles east of there a single Le Conte’s Thasher popped up when I called to him. 

8 Sandhill Cranes were on Co 2nd Street close to 50th Ave, and a mile beyond that I had a Swamp Sparrow at Growler Pond.  This was an especially nice surprise, since the pond is drying out and the only ducks were Green-winged Teal.

The final new birds for the year were at Coyote Wash, across the interstate from Wellton.  The White-fronted Goose found by Paul Lehman several years ago continues in the company of domestic brethren, a Canada Goose, Northern Shovelers, American Wigeons, Gadwalls, and hordes of coots.

Happy New Year & Good birding!

Yuma County - Jan 1, 2013
1 Pied-billed Grebe
2 Double-crested Cormorant
3 Great Blue Heron
4 Great Egret
5 Snowy Egret
6 Cattle Egret
7 Green Heron
8 Black-crowned Night Heron
9 Sandhill Crane
10 Greater White-fronted Goose
11 Canada Goose
12 Gadwall
13 American Wigeon
14 Blue-winged Teal
15 Cinnamon Teal
16 Northern Shoveler
17 Green-winged Teal
18 Ring-necked Duck
19 Common Merganser
20 Ruddy Duck
21 Osprey
22 Northern Harrier
23 Cooper’s Hawk
24 Red-tailed Hawk
25 Ferruginous Hawk
26 American Kestrel
27 Merlin
28 Gambel’s Quail
29 Sora
30 Common Moorhen
31 American Coot
32 Killdeer
33 Mountain Plover
34 Black-necked Stilt
35 Greater Yellowlegs
36 Spotted Sandpiper
37 Long-billed Curlew
38 Least Sandpiper
39 Long-billed Dowitcher
40 Turkey Vulture
41 Ring-billed Gull
42 Herring Gull
43 Rock Pigeon
44 Mourning Dove
45 Inca Dove
46 Eurasian Collared Dove
47 Greater Roadrunner
48 Barn Owl
49 White-throated Swift
50 Anna’s Hummingbird
51 Costa’s Hummingbird
52 Belted Kingfisher
53 Gila Woodpecker
54 Red-naped Sapsucker
55 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
56 Northern Flicker
57 Black Phoebe
58 Say’s Phoebe
59 Vermilion Flycatcher
60 Loggerhead Shrike
61 Common Raven
62 Horned Lark
63 Tree Swallow
64 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
65 Verdin
66 Cactus Wren
67 House Wren
68 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
69 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
70 American Robin
71 Northern Mockingbird
72 Crissal Thrasher
73 Leconte’s Thrasher
74 European Starling
75 American Pipit
76 Cedar Waxwing
77 Phainopepla
78 Orange-crowned Warbler
79 Yellow-rumped Warbler
80 Common Yellowthroat
81 Abert’s Towhee
82 Chipping Sparrow
83 Vesper Sparrow
84 Savannah Sparrow
85 Song Sparrow
86 Lincoln’s Sparrow
87 Swamp Sparrow
88 White-crowned Sparrow
89 Red-winged Blackbird
90 Western Meadowlark
91 Brewer’s Blackbird
92 Great-tailed Grackle
93 Brown-headed Cowbird
94 House Finch
95 Lesser Goldfinch

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Wellton & West Wetlands Birding
Filed under: General, Arizona
Posted by: Henry @ 8:21 am

Greetings Birders!

Al and I spent Saturday morning, Dec 22nd, birding the Gila Valley around Wellton, AZ.  It was beautiful weather and the birds were out in force.

Some of our more interesting birds were:
Merlin (Yuma)
Prairie Falcon (west of Wellton)
Sharp-shinned Hawk (west of Wellton)
Barn Owl (Green Acres RV Park, Wellton)
Ruddy Ground-Dove (Green Acres RV Park, Wellton)
Winter Wren (3.2 miles west of Wellton - found by Paul Lehman earlier this month)

Sharp-shinned Hawk, west of Wellton, 22 Dec 2012

If Inca Doves were a bit scarce in 2011, they’ve sure rebounded this year.  The Animal Farm was sporting a good fifty of them.  It was neat to see the Barn Owl staring down at us from the palm tree at Green Acres RV Park.

Barn Owl, Green Acres RV Park, 22 Dec 2012

Numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers were also extremely high in many of the spots around the valley.

This morning (Christmas Eve) Al, Helga, and I spent a couple of hours at the Yuma West Wetlands and had the usual suspects (Gila & Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Verdins, 3 Crissal Thrashers, etc.).  Additionally we spotted a single Cedar Waxwing and the large wintering flock of American Robins.

Crissal Thrasher, West Wetlands, Yuma, 24 Dec 2012

Directions to Yuma and Imperial County birding sites are at:

Merry Christmas & Good Birding!

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Yuma & Imperial Counties
Filed under: General, California, Arizona
Posted by: Henry @ 6:09 pm

Greetings Birders!

Al, Lowell, and I spent Saturday, Dec 8th, birding around Yuma, AZ and Bard, CA, tallying 94 species by the time we quit at 4:00 p.m.  No rarities, but a fine day of birding!

We started out at the Yuma West Wetlands, getting the typical hummingbirds (Anna’s & Costa’s), woodpeckers (Gila, Ladder-backed, & Northern Flicker), phoebes, and Crissal Thrasher.  At Cocopah RV Park we were happy to note the return of the wintering Hooded Mergansers (11), a Caspian Tern, herds of Long-billed Curlews, and a couple of Vermilion Flycatchers.

Black Phoebe, Yuma West Wetlands, 8 Dec 12

At Morales Dam we had a fair number of shorebirds and an American White Pelican.

The winter season south of Yuma must be a terrifying time for gophers.  All during the summer they colonize the huge circular alfalfa fields south of County 9th Street and eat with abandon.  But come November dozens of Ferruginous and Red-tailed Hawks fly down for the winter and feast on gopher meat.  On Saturday morning we counted 37 beautiful Ferruginous Hawks (including 2 dark-phase individuals) and 32 Red-tailed Hawks.  And we had two Prairie Falcons to boot!

Ferruginous Hawks, South of Yuma, 8 Dec 2012

Watching a Loggerhead Shrike chase down a beetle south of town was also pretty darn interesting.  The beetle outmanuevered the shrike for the first two passes, but the bird perservered and then caught it–in its claws.

In Imperial County we first visited the Living Waters Ministry, where all was pretty quiest save for a couple of House Wrens and an adult Red-shouldered Hawk.  On Flood Road, about a mile away, we had a pair of adult Red-shouldered Hawks and a Black-throated Gray Warbler.

Senator Wash had good numbers of Eared and Western Grebes, Common Goldeneyes, and two Common Loons.  The Barrow’s was nowhere to be found.  The desilting ponds south of Imperial Dam had two Greater Scaup and two more American White Pelicans.

Directions to Yuma and Imperial County birding sites are at:

Ferruginous Hawk, South of Yuma, 8 Dec 2012

Good birding!

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Iceland Birding
Filed under: General
Posted by: Henry @ 10:26 pm

Far afield from Arizona and California, Suzanne, Gaby, and I arrived in Iceland on Monday the 9th of July, and headed north to the Snaefellsnes peninsula.  On the way we had fine looks at two Red-throated Divers (Loons), numerous Arctic Terns, Greylag Geese, scads of Eider Ducks, and the ever-present Spotted Redshank.  At Arnarstapi we peered over the bird cliffs at thousands of Black-legged Kittiwakes, Fulmars, and a few Great Black-backed Gulls.  Closer to Olafsvik, where we spent two nights, we had Glaucous Gulls, Golden Plover, and Arctic Skua (Parasitic Jaeger). 

Spotted Redshank

Arctic Terns

On Tuesday we took a calm, two-hour boat trip under sunny skies from Sykkisholmur to see Puffins, Shags, and a pair of White-tailed Sea Eagles!  The bird cliffs at the northwest tip of the peninsula were good for all three guillemot species: Black, Common, and Bruennich’s (Short-billed Murre). We hiked around the Snaefell’s Glacier and Suzanne found us an Arctic Fox on the way home!

Golden Plover


On our final day in Iceland we visited some of the more tourist-oriented sights, while still getting a bit of birding in. We saw a pair of beautiful Trumpeter Swans north of Thingvellir (site of the first parliament).  A geyser and the awesome GullFoss Falls rounded out the day.   In all, we saw 42 species of birds in Iceland, 4 of which were lifers.

Trumpeter Swans

Gullfoss Falls

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