White Mountain Audubon members at Wenima Wildlife Area
2002 Archived Field Trip Reports
Fieldtrips are regularly held on the third Saturday of the month and meet in the parking lot of the McDonald's in Pinetop at 7:00 A.M. sharp. Special trips and afternoon fieldtrips are as scheduled. There are no regular trips in December, January, or February, but look for our Christmas Bird Count and other special events during the winter. For a schedule of upcoming trips, go to our Calendar. Bring binoculars and a scope if you have one. You should plan to bring a sack lunch, snacks and water for the day. Most fieldtrips last until the afternoon. All of our trips are open to the public. They are free with the exception of paying for rental vans or entrance fees on some occasions. Please plan to leave your pets at home. While on the trip please refrain from making loud noises. Most trips involve some moderate hiking. If you have any questions about fieldtrips email us. Hope to see you there!
FIELDTRIP REPORTS: 2002
Overnight Fieldtrip to Cottonwood Nov. 16-17, 2002
Eight White Mountain Audubon members caravanned over to Cottonwood on November 16th for two days of birding. We stopped for lunch at beautiful Dead Horse Ranch State Park. A short walk among the cottonwood/ willow habitat yielded Ladder-backed and Gila Woodpeckers. A Bridled Titmouse and pair of Abert's Towhees were found in the mesquite trees across the trail.
We proceeded to Peck's Lake and Tavasci Marsh. The lake had several different waterfowl species with the highlights being Common Moorhen and three resting Wood Ducks. Tavasci Marsh was alive with Sora and Marsh Wren. Two determined birders waded up to their knees to get to the North observation deck, where they were hoping to flush out a Least Bittern or Clapper Rail. Their efforts were futile, but it made for some hearty laughter.
The next day, the gang was led to Page Springs Fish Hatchery by Karen O'Neil and four other Prescott Audubon Society members. We were all impressed by the lush plantings and trails around the hatchery. We were treated to sightings of Northern Cardinal and Black-crowned Night Heron. A Fox Sparrow was sighted by a couple lucky birders before skulking away. Hermit Thrushes seemed to be everywhere. Over at the fish ponds, a Great Egret stalked along the shore, while a Belted Kingfisher chattered by. A Merlin threatened a Black Phoebe, and an extremely cooperative Virginia Rail treated all of us to outstanding close views. It was a beautiful two-day outing, with great weather, good friends, and good birding.
Some of the other birds seen on our trip included: Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Harrier, Prairie Falcon, Great Blue Heron, Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, Common Merganser, Red-naped Sapsucker, Say's Phoebe, Western Bluebird, Townsend's Solitaire, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, Bewick's Wren, Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, and Lesser Goldfinch.
October 19, 2002 Fieldtrip to Eastern Mountain Lakes
Seven of us met at Sunrise Lake to begin the lake tour. Although the lake was low, there were multitudes of ducks and waterfowl. Among them were Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, and Bufflehead. We also found American Pipit and Northern Harrier. The cool morning quickly turned into a gorgeous fall day. We drove on to Crescent Lake, which held few birds, but the drive was really beautiful. The aspens were still making a lovely display, though they were a little past their peak. Our next stop was Big Lake, where we were treated to an incredible aerial show. We watched as a Bald Eagle harassed an Osprey, circling and diving, until the Osprey dropped the fish it was clutching... and the Eagle swooped and caught it mid-air! We also saw Common Loons at a distance.
We drove through the beautiful foliage on to Sierra Blanca Lake, and found Redhead and Ring-necked Duck among others.
From here the group split up, with four of us continuing on to Luna Lake, where we found Common Loons, and the two Surf Scoters which had been reported earlier. We went on to Nelson Reservoir and Becker Lake. The highlights were a Ferruginous Hawk outside Nutrioso, and a White-throated Sparrow at Becker. We finished the day at Wenima, and were treated to Red-tail Hawks of all plumages. It was a very enjoyable day. Some other birds seen this day include Gadwall, Eared Grebe, Ruddy Duck, Lesser Scaup, Common Merganser, Canvasback, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Marsh Wren, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, and Savannah Sparrow.
The Big Sit!
Lanny, our Circle Captain, had the circle at Woodland Lake Park staked out bright and early on Sunday, October 13th. Signs and a banner marked the way. Other "Ospreys" began to show a little later. Gloves were required for the morning, although it wasn't quite chilly enough for earmuffs. As the sit continued and more birders gathered, the layers came off, and it turned into a nice day. The lake was low, but we did find several species of waterfowl, and watched a Great Blue Heron hunt it's way slowly along the shore. We all got to watch a beautiful Northern Harrier circle round the lake on and off for nearly two hours. There were plenty of Lewis' Woodpeckers about, and we caught a glimpse of a Prairie Falcon soaring by. Chatter was constant as the group waxed and waned, and we did some outreach as park visitors stopped by our table to see what we were doing. After the morning donuts and crumb cake, we moved on to Ranch pickles, sandwiches, and Fresh Farm Salsa. We discussed a chili cook-off for next year. Although some birds eluded us (how could we not come up with a Coot?), we ended the day on a high note, as a Merlin came to perch in a nearby snag. People came and went, with a total of eight participants. All had a great time, and will be looking forward to the next Big Sit!
Birds seen on the Big Sit were: Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveller, Gadwall, American Widgeon, Ring-necked Duck, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, Merlin, Prairie Falcon, Belted Kingfisher, Lewis' Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Steller's Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Pygmy Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Western Bluebird, American Robin, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, and Red-winged Blackbird.
Wenima Wildlife Area, September 21, 2002.
It was a beautiful day for a fieldtrip. A great group of seventeen of us birded Wenima Wildlife Area, north of Springerville, which includes a portion of the Little Colorado River and great riparian and grassland habitats. We walked the meadow below the cliffs northward and found Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Canyon Wren, and lots of Lincoln's Sparrows. There were also Olive-sided Flycatchers, MacGillivray's Warblers, Green-tailed Towhees, White-crowned Sparrows and female Western Tanagers. On the way back we found Brewer's Sparrows and Vesper Sparrows in the thistles. The trail to the south produced Warbling Vireo, Sage Thrasher, and Orange-crowned Warblers. Other birds seen at Wenima include: Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Belted Kingfisher, Red-naped Sapsucker, Western Kingbird, Western Wood-Pewee, Gray Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, Violet-green Swallow, Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Virginia's Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Lazuli Bunting, Savannah Sparrow and Lesser Goldfinch. Together we found a total of 46 species at Wenima.
Since it was also the North American Migration Count Day, a few of us went on to check out some other local birding spots. The highlights were: a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Osprey, Redheads, Ring-necked Ducks, Eared and Western Grebes at Becker Lake, a Broad-tailed Hummingbird at Sipe Wildlife Area, and four Horned Grebes at Nelson Reservoir.
Blue River Field Trip August 17th, 2002
Twenty-two birders met at the Luce Ranch turnoff on the Blue River Road on 8/17. Dick & Betty Youse graciously opened their gates to us for a morning of birding. We were all grateful for their generosity, the ranch is beautiful. The birding was pretty good too.
Lazuli and Indigo buntings ducked in and out of the orchard trees. Rufous Hummingbirds buzzed about in great numbers. The raucous calls of the Acorn Woodpeckers and Stellar Jays echoed throughout the canopy. Right before leaving, all were treated to a very cooperative Painted Redstart.
The crew meandered from the Luce Ranch to the Lower Blue Crossing campground for lunch. Sightings included: Osprey, Common Black-Hawk, Spotted Towhee, and Red-faced Warbler. After lunch we continued to the Blue River Fish Hatchery. The Belted Kingfisher made his presence known with his raspy call. Blue Grosbeaks clambered about the willows and a Black-throated Gray Warbler worked a neighboring Juniper tree.
Some folks continued down lower and found Montezuma Quail, Common Black-Hawk, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and MacGillivray's Warbler. We all had a great day. The habitat of the Blue River is so lush and thick you never know what surprises you may encounter!
July 20th: Fieldtrip to White Mountain Apache Reservation
Seven of us began the trip by traveling to Canyon Day. While walking along the ridge line overlooking the riparian area below, we saw a pair of Rufous-crowned Sparrows playing among the rocks. Down along the White River, Blue Grosbeaks abounded. Cassin's Kingbirds called from the treetops, and Yellow-breasted Chats from the willows. Turkey Vultures ominously sat in the Cottonwoods. An immature Green Heron was seen along the river, and an adult made a fly-by a bit later.
The crew went on to Kinishba ruins, where Phainopepla and Black-throated Sparrows were found. Five group continued to beautiful Alchesay Fish Hatchery, along the North Fork of the White River. Virginia's warbler feeding young, Belted Kingfisher, and Lazuli Buntings were the highlights there. All in all, a wonderful day on the Apache Reservation. Other birds seen on the trip include American Kestrel, Pinion Jay, Black Phoebe, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, and Spotted Towhee.
June 14th:The Great White Mountain Audubon Campout
Twenty eight people beat the forest closures and experienced a wonderful weekend out at Burnt Mill Spring June 14,15, and 16th. The weekend started with an impromptu search for a Short-eared Owl that was reported on the rare bird alert. We were not successful, but everyone got to see the plethora of Common Nighthawks, some zooming quite close!
It was a lot of fun to find nesting birds again this year. All together eight nests were found in cavities around the campsite. The nesting species were: Williamson's Sapsucker (2), Western Bluebird (2), Mountain Chickadee, Red-naped Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, and the very cute Brown Creepers.
There was such a great concentration of nests in one area, that Caroline dubbed it "the Nursery". Other species seen around Burnt Mill included: Three-toed Woodpecker, Red Crossbill, Hermit Thrush, Gray Jay, and Townsend's Solitaire. The trips to Greer produced: Nesting Osprey, Grace's Warbler, Pygmy Nuthatch, Double-crested Cormorant, MacGillivray's Warbler, and a pair of nesting Western Wood-pewees.
This year we had two special guests. Scott Wilbor, with the Arizona Important Bird Area program, gave an informative presentation in the afternoon. Dan Groebner gave a lantern lit talk on the status of the wolf reintroduction program. Both speakers were well received and appreciated by all campers. We also introduced the official Great White Mountain Audubon Campout t-shirt. The design was a Bart Stegman original of a displaying Blue Grouse. There are still some available and we will have them at the next meeting. Thanks to Bart for his time and effort it was definitely appreciated. I would also like to thank all the volunteers that made this happen. It was a lot of hard work but sure a ton of fun. Hope to see you all next year in 2003!
May 18, 2002 Bird-a-thon
Our May fieldtrip was this year's Bird-a-thon fundraiser. It was a huge success. We split up into five teams, and covered a lot of territory. The chapter managed to find a total of 161 species, with much help from the Eagarville Hummers, who found 138 species that day. Thanks to all who participated and donated! Some of the great birds found were Clark's Grebe, Horned Grebe, American White Pelican, Common Loon, Cattle Egret, Bald Eagle, Common Black-Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Blue Grouse, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Common Nighthawk, Rufous Hummingbird, Greater Pewee, Gray Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, American Dipper, Bank Swallow, Purple Martin, Red Crossbill, Northern Waterthrush, Black-chinned Sparrow, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Indigo Bunting.