Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Utah Trip: Part 1

.We started our Utah trip by flying into Las Vegas and then driving up to Hurricane, where we were to spend our first two nights.

As soon as we had unpacked, I drove up to Quail Creek State Park to check out the birding possibilities there.

Even before I got out of the car, I spotted a Greater Roadrunner. (Pity the car windshield wasn't clean!)_

An Ash-throated Flycatcher and a Say's Phoebe were the next birds to appear.

They were followed by a Horned Lark and a group of Black-throated Sparrows (below).

I was hoping for Gambel's Quail but I had to settle for a noisy bunch of Common Ravens and some Turkey Vultures instead.

Back in town, we took a stroll around the streets next to the motel. A Western Kingbird perched next to House Sparrows and House Finches, while an open area had White-crowned Sparrows. A much more exciting sighting, though, was of several Phainopepla, a species we hadn't seen since our last trip to the botanical gardens in Phoenix.

Still to Come
Our plan for Monday was to drive over to Zion National Park. The main attactions in Zion are the views but we also hoped to fit in a little birding.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

On the Road Again

We're going to be away from home for the next week, on a trip to southwestern Utah. We're starting off with two days in/around Zion National Park and then spending four days in Cedar City.

I'm hoping that the time at Zion will produce two new life birds - California Condor and Northern Goshawk - as well as some new year birds, such as Golden Eagle and Peregrine Falcon.

Most of our time in Cedar City will be spent with family rather than on birding. However, I'm hoping to fit in a couple of short birding trips, including one to Cedar Breaks National Monument.  I should get to see some high altitude birds, such Gray Jay and Clark's Nutcracker.


With luck, I might even add a life bird - Three-toed Woodpecker. If not, I should surely get to see some Hairy Woodpeckers again.

July is peak wildflower time in the Cedar City area and so the scenery there should be even more beautiful than usual.

In My Absence

I'm not sure how often I'll have Internet access while I'm away and so it may be a fee days before I post again. In the meantime, I 'll leave you with a link to my favorite live birdcam, run by a guy called Dwayne in Marietta, GA. His feeders seem to attract a never-ending stream of birds: Red-headed and Downy Woodpeckers, White-breasted and Brown-headed Nuthatches, Lesser Goldfinch, Tufted Titmice, Eastern Towhee, Mountain Bluebird etc. etc. etc. I hope you enjoy watching Dwayne's birds as much as I do!

Watch live video from benyawd on www.justin.tv

Thursday, July 19, 2012

CyFair Campus Quiz

For the past couple of weeks it has been very quiet for birds on the CyFair campus. Except for glimpses of a Green Heron, there is no action at the retention ponds. The nature trail, too, is quiet: I took a quick walk there this morning and didn't see a single bird.

As I have so little to report, I thought it might be fun to post a bird quiz for a change.

Below are photos of 12 bird species that I've seen on the CyFair campus over the years. Most are residents or common visitors, but a few are birds we don't often see here.

See if you can identify all the different species.

(The answers are given further down the page.)





The Answers

1. Black-bellied Whistling Duck

2. Blue-winged Teal

3. Common Nighthawk

4. Red-tailed Hawk

5. Swainson's Hawk

6. Yellow-crowned Night Heron

7. Green Heron

8. Greater Yellowlegs

9. Eastern Meadowlark

10. Dark-eyed Junco

11. Sedge Wren

12. Nashville Warbler

So how did you do?
10-12 Excellent
7-9 Very Good
5-6 Fair
0-4 Oh, dear!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Yard Visitors

.We continue to get a steady stream of birds to our backyard feeders.

This Carolina Wren is one of a family of three that normally visits either early or late in the day.

White-winged Doves are always around.

Several adult and young Blue Jays appear as soon as we put out any peanuts.

Unfortunately, House Sparrows discovered our yards a few months ago and they now turn up in numbers every day. The parents, like this adult male, hunt for food.

The young just sit on our fence and wait to be fed.

I'm torn in my feelings about House Sparrows. On the one hand, they are an invasive species and their presence has a negative impact on native birds. On the other hand, since being brought to the USA from Europe in the late 1800s, they have adapted brilliantly. This was brought home to me recently when I watched House Sparrows hopping around on prickly pair cactus in the lower Rio Grande valley.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Quite a Weekend!

Well, that was quite a weekend! We had 11" of rain on Friday and a couple more inches on Saturday and Sunday. Our Internet was down and we weren't able to drive out of our neighborhood until yesterday. So that's why I didn't post anything on this blog between Thursday and today.

Of course, the huge storms that we've been having also mean that I haven't been able to get out birding. Also, it's been so dark and wet most of the time that I wasn't even able to take many photos in our yards.

I did manage to get a few photos, though, including some of several young  Northern Cardinals that have been visiting our yards regularly.

The eldest male doesn't have his full scarlet plumage yet but he already looks impressive.

As you will see below, the two other young males still have a ways to go with their plumage.