White Mountain Audubon members at Wenima Wildlife Area
2004 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: 2004
Timber Mesa Christmas Bird Count 12/18/2004
Even before the sun was up, Auduboners were already gathering at the Hilltop House to plan strategy for the day's count. Ten participants made up four teams for the morning count. The weather was brisk but the birding heated up quickly. A beautiful male Wood Duck was seen by Bart and team at Lake of the Woods. Meanwhile, Paul Gomben had spotted three 1st year Tundra Swans at Fool Hollow Lake. Back in Pinetop, the Bittorf team had discovered Hooded Mergansers at Woodland Lake. Not to be outdone, Jimmy's team were looking at a flock of Red Crossbills at Scott's Reservoir. The day warmed up and many teams continued on after lunch, providing great coverage for the 2004 count.
As in every year, 2004's count produced some interesting results. Eurasian-Collared Dove, Black Phoebe, Chipping Sparrow and Red Crossbill had never been seen on Timber Mesa's CBC.
We saw the highest number ever recorded of Gadwall (532), Tundra Swan (3), Common Merganser (167), Red-breasted Nuthatch (2), Pygmy Nuthatch (80), and Juniper Titmouse (3) and Western Grebe (1) tied. Other results of interest were: Common Goldeneye (6), Bald Eagle (28), Lewis' Woodpecker (50), Western Scrub Jay (7), Bushtit (12), Sage Thrasher (5), American Pipit (9). Cedar Waxwing (1), and Cassin's Finch (8). Total species seen: 69. Total individuals counted: 4,431.
You can find all the results of our count at http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/. They also have results from previous years and from count circles around the world. Thanks again to those who helped make 2004 a fun and successful count.
Bosque Del Apache "Festival of the Cranes" 11/20-11/21
Twenty-five White Mountain Auduboners descended upon the Bosque Del Apache wildlife refuge to celebrate their annual "Festival of the Cranes." We began the afternoon by checking out the art show and wildlife exhibits. The exhibits were impressive. The Hawks Aloft organization featured rehabilitated Hawks and Owls. We were very taken by the Mississippi Kite and tiny American Kestral pair. Outside at a bird-banding station some of us got to see a Phyrruloxia in hand. We also enjoyed the local artists and most of us left some money and brought back some presents.
Birding that afternoon was good in the refuge, and we saw such species as: Snow, Ross's, and Canada Geese, Sandhill Crane, Northern Harrier, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Redhead, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, White-faced Ibis, Greater Yellowlegs, Ring-necked Pheasant, and Cooper's Hawk.
At our final stop in the evening we overlooked a marsh that had become a vast sea of Snow and Ross's Geese.Breakfast was served the following morning at 4:45 AM at Motel Six room 101 before departing to catch the "fly out", our first festival event. We boarded Carne I and II and walked out in the pre-dawn darkness to await the awakening of the Geese and Cranes. The spectacular flight of thousands of birds streaming overhead in the purple dawn light is a breath-taking sight. Back at the visitor center, the feeding station provided us with looks of Gambel's Quail and an unexpected White-throated Sparrow. A Western small-footed Myotis was trying not to be disturbed roosting near the entrance.
Our second and final event was a tour of the refuge. It was interesting to learn the history and management practices of the refuge, and as a bonus some of us got to see: Black-crowned Night Heron, Western Grebe, and Neo-tropic Cormorants. I have to say that it was an extremely well-organized event, and I was thoroughly impressed with all aspects of the festival.
Field Trip to Escudilla Mountain 10/16/2004
Seven hearty Auduboners headed out into a blustery morning in search of some good fall colors and a few birds. The road over from Pinetop to Escudilla was spectacular. The Aspen leaves were mostly yellow, with tinges of red among the very tip-tops. The southward facing slope of Greenspeak was particularly stunning. We first stopped at Nelson Reservoir.
It was very cold when we got there, but a scan of the lake did yield a couple of Clark's Grebes and a couple of Western Grebes. At the East end of the reservoir we saw an adult Bald Eagle, 15 Pinyon Jays, a lingering MacGillivray's Warbler, and 4 Long-billed Dowitchers. As the temperature started to warm up we continued up towards Escudilla. From the North it appeared that all the leaves had passed, but upon hitting the southward facing slope the colors were once again incredible!The birding was pretty good as well. Terry Flat was jumping with Western Bluebirds. The conifers up the slope had a nice flock of Mountain Chickadees, Dark-eyed Juncos, Golden-crowned and Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, Pygmy Nuthatches and Brown Creepers. Just before along the ridgeline some chattering Clark's Nutcrackers, and Stellar's Jay passed by. Not to be outdone, riding on the thermals a Golden Eagle, followed by a Northern Harrier sailed past. We sat down for lunch in the flat just gazing at the immense scenery and view of New Mexico mountaintops.
It was a first time to Escudilla for some in the group, but I am positive not the last. I believe all who came went home with the same feeling of exhilaration.
Fieldtrip to Southeast Arizona July 16-18, 2004
Ask anyone who went, and you're likely to get the same answer-- what an awesome trip! Once again, Gary Crandall volunteered his expert skills guiding the group around Southeast Arizona. This time we were based in Green Valley, and found many Mexican specialties in the area. The van left bright and early on Friday, and found some of our first Sonoran birds, including Black-tailed Gnatcatcher and Bell's Vireo at a rest stop along the Gila River. We had some lunch at a park in Tucson while watching hunting Roadrunners before going to see the Reddish Egret that had been reported nearby. With the first really "good bird" of the trip under our belts, we were seriously ready to BIRD.
At the Sweetwater wetlands, which was swelteringly hot, we found Common Moorhen, Lucy's Warbler, and Abert's Towhee. Afterwards we went on to a wash where we got to see Rufous-winged Sparrow through Gary's Scope. We also found Phyrrloxias there. After dinner we drove up to Madera Canyon to do some owling. On the way we had a spectacular look at a Peregrine Falcon. After dark we listened to Elf Owl, and saw Whiskered Screech Owls in the trees above us.
The next morning took us back to Madera, and began with nice scope views of a perched Swainson's Hawk. We got to see our first Varied Bunting (who knew we'd be joking that it was a "trash bird" by the end of the trip!) as well as Botteri's Sparrows in the grasslands. Up in the canyon, we found the much sought-after Flame-colored Tanager! The male was quite cooperative, singing and perching so that most of us could see it through the scope! It was quite an amazing morning, and we added such species as Elegant Trogon, Magnificent and Blue-throated Hummingbirds, Sulpher-bellied, Dusky-Capped and Brown-crested Flycatchers, and heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl. We also got close looks at a young Cooper's Hawk, expertly identified by Suzanne. After an afternoon's siesta, we began our travels southward nearly to the Mexican border.
A stop along the road in Arivaca produced great sightings of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. We also had Common Ground Dove, Summer Tanager, and Gray Hawk, as well as a fleeting glimpse of a Ladder-backed Woodpecker. From there, the van bumped long miles on dubious roads down into California Gulch. We walked the hot trail into the gulch and were rewarded with excellent views of the Fiveiped Sparrow singing for us. The colorful array of birds in the Gulch also included Hooded Oriole, Summer Tanager, and LOTS of Varied Buntings! Gary managed to spot an Northern-beardless Tyrannulet, while we listened to a rather squeeky Red-tailed Hawk. The strangest bird was by far a Northern Goshawk that soared overhead while we climbed out. We had some supper underneath gathering storm clouds while waiting for darkness and the Buff-colored Nightjar. A Vermilliion flycatcher was spotted shortly before the rain began to fall. It came down in a torrent, and with thunder booming we decided to abandon the Nightjar quest and head for higher ground.
We resumed birding Sunday in Tubac and quickly found Tropical Kingbirds among others. From there we went on to Kino Springs Golf Course Ponds in search of the Least Grebe, and persistence paid off when it was finally spotted by Sue. In the meantime, we got great looks at Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. Some of the group chased down a Gray Hawk for closer inspection, and a few lifed the Bronzed Cowbird. We made a stop at Palo Duro Ponds, where we found "Mexican" mallards before saying goodbye to Caroline and thanks to Gary and heading back home.
A final stop in Dudleyville rewarded us with an really memorable sighting of a Mississippi Kite on the nest, shading a chick from the mid-day sun. Altogether we found 114 species. If you're interested in a complete trip list, just contact Jimmy and Lorraine and we'll email one to you. Watch for information on another Southeast Arizona Adventure in 2005.
Apache County Wetlands 8/21/2004
We started our birding day at Becker Lake. An immature Bald Eagle was perched up in a snag, and a couple of Osprey were sitting atop telephone poles. Clark's and Western Grebe were in the same vicinity allowing the twelve on-lookers a chance to spot some good diagnostic differences between the two. Gary Crandall happened upon us after that and teased with the question, "Have you seen your Prothonotary Warbler today?" But, he was serious!
We traveled over to the Little Colorado River crossing off of Airport road in Eagar. There along with 7 other warbler species, the beautiful warbler was seen and was very cooperative! WOW! The other warblers seen there were Nashville, Virginia's, Yellow, Wilson's, Orange-crowned, MacGilivray's, and Townsend's. Our thanks to Gary for passing along this rare sighting so we could all have a chance to see it. We continued to Lyman Lake where we had fun identifying the Wilson's Phalaropes, and comparing the Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs. The flock of White-faced Ibis was nice to see. During lunch an adult and an immature Forster's Tern dipped and dove around the lake. From there we headed off to St. John's Wastewater area. There were may Western Sandpipers and a few Least Sandpipers for comparison. Lazuli Buntings played amongst the sunflowers along the banks. Birding at Concho Lake was cut short by the threatening thunderstorm, but a male Phainopeplea sat prominently atop a juniper tree for the last sighting of the day.
Even though this was touted as a shorebird field trip, I think all who went will be remembering that beautiful Prothonotary warbler.
Great White Mountain Campout 2004
It was another great campout this year, with people coming from all over the state. Campers came all the way from the Grand Canyon, Green Valley, Prescott, Tuscon, and Phoenix to join the residents of the White Mountains for a weekend of birding and camping out.
Saturday's fieldtrip was great despite the fact that the trails to Mount Baldy had been closed, and we had to come up with an alternate plan. We heard plenty of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and saw Lincoln's Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Green-tailed Towhee at Sheeps Crossing. At Gabaldon Campground we found cooperative Clark's Nutcrackers and less cooperative Golden-crowned Kinglets. On our afternoon walk we found butterflies like the Western Swallowtail puddling and a few wildflowers including Canadian Violet on the way to the spring. We found a small greenish egg which turned out to have fallen from a Hermit Thrush's nest. In the evening we heard a program on bats, and biologists from Arizona Game and Fish caught several and identified four species for us. One was fitted with a glow-stick and we watched it fly through the trees after being released, glowing like a firefly.
On Sunday we found several nests on our walk, including two Williamson's Sapsucker nests, and the nests of Western Bluebirds and Violet-green Swallows. We also had some fun with an Olive-sided Flycatcher who called back and forth with Jimmy. A few of us were lucky enough to see the Gray Jays that came to check out our campsite. It was a really great time, and we enjoyed relaxing and visiting just as much as we enjoyed the birding!
Bird-a-thon May 15, 2004
Although the money is still coming in, our annual fundraiser is sure to be a success with the amount of participation and enthusiasm we had this year! We especially want to thank those of you who went out to gather pledges and our generous donors!
We had several teams in the field birding on Saturday, and it was a great day for everyone who went out. The Eagarville Hummers retuned this year to tally an amazing 145 species! This is a new record for a single day of birding in the White Mountains-- and they will win the well-deserved "Birder of the Year" plaque once again. Our other teams also did well, and added more species to the year's list, which was 160 species for the group. (Email Jimmy and we'll send you the entire list.) It was a long day for some of us, but this birding-derby was a heck of a lot of fun. Way to go everyone!
Some of the highlights of the birding day were: Clark's Grebe, Cattle Egret, Common Black-Hawk, Forester's Tern, Band-tailed Pigeon, Burrowing Owl, Anna's Hummingbird, Three-toed Woodpecker, Mexican Jay, Gray Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, Hutton's Vireo, American Dipper, Bridled Titmouse, Cassin's Finch, American Goldfinch, Olive Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Painted Redstart, Lucy's Warbler, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Hepatic Tanager, Lazuli Bunting, Hooded Oriole, and Scott's Oriole.
North American Migration Count, Apache County, May 8, 2004
Five of us began with the ambitious plan of counting birds as many sites along the Little Colorado Important Bird Area as possible for the Apache County NAMC. We started at Wenima Wildlife Area, where Gary and Jimmy found a White-eyed Vireo, which was singing. Such an unexpected rarity made for high spirits as we moved on to Becker Lake. The best birds found there were two Franklin's Gulls in beautiful breeding plumage.
We moved on to the Ender's property and found a pair of Blue Grosbeaks, and then to Southfork, where we added Red-faced Warbler. At Benny Creek we found three Hermit Thrushes and got schooled in the song of the Dark-eyed Junco. River Reservoir in Greer was quite low, but the birding was good. We counted an Osprey and Double-crested Cormerents on their nest, Dusky Flycatcher, and Graces Warbler. We moved on to Sheep's Crossing and after a lunch break counted numerous Golden-crowned and Ruby Crowned Kinglets which were singing constantly. At Gabaldon Campground one Gray Jay was found, and 28 Red Crossbills. We stopped to see the Bald Eagle on the nest at Crescent Lake, and added 15 Western Grebes and some swallows at Big Lake before the crew decided to break up for the day.
Jimmy and Lorraine counted on until dusk, and found a Ross' Goose and American Pipits at Lyman Lake and 20 Wilson's Phalaropes and 2 White-faced Ibis at the St. John's Wastewater treatment ponds. In Hunt, we counted 4 Scaled Quail. Finally, at home near dusk, we were amazed when a Baltimore Oriole showed up at our feeder to be counted as the final bird of the day! Altogether, we tallied 118 species in Apache County for the day-- a total which exceeded the reports of all other counties in the state! Way to go team!
Payson Field Trip, April 17, 2004
Twelve birders rode the van and two others followed to Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery. Although it was really windy on the rim and in town, the canyon sheltered our birding. The walk to the hatchery was enlivened with House Wrens and everyone got to learn its prevalent song. A very cooperative Red-faced Warbler awarded us great looks. Where there are snags, there are usually woodpeckers, and in our case Downy, Hairy, and Acorn all came to the same snag within a 10-minute time frame. A happy Greater Pewee sang its distinctive tune for all of us to enjoy.
We then stopped a bit further down along Tonto Creek, and upon getting out of the van a flock of Mexican Jays cruised around us. After a little walking we found the Grace's Warblers that went along with the persistent songs, and a dozen or so Painted Redstarts. This was the most Redstarts I had ever experienced at one time!
Our birding continued at Flowing Springs Road, which is a recreation area along the East Verde River. It was afternoon and the birding was a little slow, but everyone got to see a pair of Yellow Warblers bathing in the river, always a pretty duo!
Some other species seen during the day were (at Tonto Creek): Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Flicker, Black Phoebe, Bridled Titmouse and Virginia's Warbler and (at Flowing Springs): Western Scrub-Jay, Bewick's Wren, Lucy's Warbler, and Yellow-rumped Warbler.
It was a great day of birding with great company!
Timber Mesa Christmas Bird Count 2003, January 3, 2004
Ten of us gathered before dawn at the Hilltop House in Pinetop to plan strategy for this year's CBC. From there, we fanned out in teams to cover the count circle. It was undeniably some of the worst weather in recent memory for the CBC. There was a cold wind blowing, and it went from overcast to rain and sleet in the afternoon. Where the lakes were unfrozen, the waves had white caps. But it didn't deter us from ending up with great results... our hardy participants walked many miles and we ended up counting the same number of species as last year in the sunshine-- 66. More surprising, we counted even more individual birds than last year, for a total of 5,551 birds. Some of the interesting birds we found this year include two Ross' Geese, an Orange-crowned Warbler (!), and a Savannah Sparrow. We also counted 1 Eared Grebe, 6 Common Goldeneye, 9 Hooded Mergansers, 27 Bald Eagles, 5 Lewis's Woodpeckers, 1 Red-naped Sapsucker, 2 Downy Woodpeckers, 35 Pinyon Jays, 4 American Pipits and 14 Cassin's Finches. Belted Kingfishers were seen during the count week. For all of our results, and to compare these results with what we've found in the past, go to "http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc" which is the CBC homepage and use the navigational prompts. They are having some technical difficulties with the new data entry, so our 2003 results probably won't be entered until mid-February. Way to go people! We also want to thank the Bittorfs for watching their feeders. Thanks for making it another successful year.