Sunday, April 15, 2018

Mar. 18-Apr. 7 2018 Bryce and Zion Canyons Utah, Southern Arizona, Cotton Carrier, Lucifer Hummingbird

March 16 2018 Dian and I headed south to St. George, Utah.  We were off to meet Dian's brother Neil and his wife, Wilma.  Wilma was doing a pickle ball circuit in southern California and Utah and we were going to share an AirB&B for a couple of weeks.  It was an opportunity to explore Bryce and Zion Canyons and other local natural wildlife areas.  While there, we decided we may as well go little further south to Green Valley, Arizona and find some birds.  So we booked an AirB&B there too.
First stop was St. George Ut. indicated by red marker.
Next stop was Green Valley.
Zion provides buses to gain access to the many trails in the park.  Sometimes the wait for a bus can be over an hour.  You can get off at any time and get back on again.                                                         I would like to comment on the camera vest I am wearing.  It is a Cotton Camera Harness and I couldn't be without it.  It is about 4 years old and the hub in the centre broke on this trip.  When I returned home I contacted Cotton and they had a new one in the mail the next day.  This was the second time they have replaced it because of defects.  I am really impressed with the customer service this company provides and thought I just had to give them a plug.

Neil and Wilma sat opposite on the bus.
Some trails can be gentle at Zion.
There are photo opportunities everywhere you point the camera.

We took a trip to the Lytle Ranch Reserve.  This is an acerage owned by Brigham Young University close to the Utah/Nevada border.  They welcome birders and it was an oasis in the desert.  Here we found a leucistic Wild Turkey.  It really stood out among the regular turkeys. 
In a completely different area (Madera Canyon Arizona) this tom turkey was strutting his stuff.
Black-chinned Hummingbird at Madera Canyon.
On our way to Green Valley we spent the night at Wickenburg Az.  Before we went to bed we took a walk around the Hassayampa River Reserve.  An Anna's Hummingbird feeding on cacti in the late afternoon light was hard to resist.

An Acorn Woodpecker landed beside me at Ash Canyon B&B.  

Black-throated Grey Warbler at Madera.
A huge attraction for birders is the Elegant Trogon.  Madera Canyon in Southern Arizona is one of the few places north of the Mexican border where these beautiful birds can be found.

Broad-billed Hummingbird at Madera.
A target bird for us was the Lucifer Hummingbird. We picked up old acquaintance Thor Manson and headed to Ash Canyon B&B to find one.  Thor used to live in Oliver, BC and moved to Green Valley last year.  We had a great day with Thor and look forward to visiting him again when we return.  He pointed out two Lucifers for us as they landed on the feeders.

This is a Rivoli's Hummingbird.  For all you birders, it used to be the Magnificent Hummingbird but was name changed in 2017 because of a Magnificent in South Central America.  Now they have been split into the Rivoli's and the Talamanca Hummingbird.
Another bird that has recently been split is the Woodhouse's Scrub Jay seen above.  It was decided it is a different species than the California Scrub Jay which it was originally called up until 2016.
Dian and Neil in Snow Canyon State Park close to St. George Ut.
Dian and I at Red Cliff Canyon (close to St. George).
The weather was still bit chilly at the end of March.
An Hepatic Tanager appeared at Madera Canyon, Az.
A Phainopepla was nest building at the Lytle Ranch.

Back at Bryce Canyon we found a few Pygmy Nuthatches.
White-breasted Nuthatch at Bryce taken with a 40mm lens.
Vermillion Flycatcher at Tubac Az.
Yellow-eyed Junco at Madera Canyon.  Not much different than our Dark-eyed Junco except for the brown back and yellow eyes.

The following are a few shots from Bryce Canyon.

Snow is still visible in the background.  The cool weather was welcomed as the hike through the canyon can generate some heat.
I mentioned earlier that Wilma was doing a pickle ball tour.  In St. George she teamed up with a lady from Calgary and they won their class (four) in a tournament.  The highest class is "five", so they did extremely well.  On to class 5 now Wilma!

The main reason we decided to spend an extra week in Green Valley is there were many reports of a Sinola Wren in that area.  The Sinaloa Wren is small bird that spends much of its time in dense undergrowth making it difficult to find.  It is very rare north of the Mexican border.  We have tried 3 previous times to find this bird in as many years, without success. We spent about 2-3 hours almost every day we there, searching for our elusive nemesis.  On the last day I decided to cross a small river to see if it was on the other side.  While there, I saw a group of other birders on the other side of the river pointing at my side and taking pictures of something right in front of me.  Because of undergrowth and a brush pile I couldn't see what they were looking at-but I knew what it was.  I never got to see it, even though it was within 20 feet.  And Dian was further up stream so she didn't get it either.  Maybe it's just as well, as we now have an excuse to return..

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Friday, October 13, 2017

October 2017 Jackman Wetlands, Aldergrove, BC. Yellowlegs, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher

A report of a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Jackman Wetlands got me wondering, where the heck is Jackman Wetlands? An enquiry to Fraser Valley Birds got me an answer.  Thanks Nick.  It is located just north of the intersection of 272 St. and 8th. Ave. across from the Langley landfill.  This is a reclaimed area that was once a landfill itself.  It has been leased by a group of dog owners called the Fraser Valley Retriever Training Club.  The general public was given access about a year ago.  The district of Langley has done a lot of work here, landscaping and developing trails.  Here are some pictures taken in a recent visit.

The pin above Aldergrove Park indicates Jackman Wetlands.  Entrance is on 272 St.
Dian leaving the parking lot.
I was sitting by one of the ponds when a Common Snipe came out of hiding.  A Lesser Yellowlegs approaches from the rear.
The sign says dogs should be on a leash but, as in most parks, many people simply ignore it.  The members of the dog club have permission to train their dogs here and they are exempt from the leash restriction.  I visited the site twice while they were there and they appeared to be a responsible group with well trained dogs.  I am grateful they have agreed to share the area with the general public.
The object of our visit was this Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.  Only its head was visible when we first spotted it.
It walked away before I could get a frontal shot.
Pectoral Sandpipers were also here and they can easily be confused with the Sharp-tailed.
Low water levels expose mud which the shorebirds need for foraging on their migration south.
A small flock of Long-billed Dowitchers.
Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.
There are more ponds on the property but only one had suitable shorelines for the peeps.
Greater Yellowlegs appear to be fighting but they may just be having fun.

Here one stomps on the other's head.
Then one jabs its beak right through the other's head.  (Just kidding.  Optical illusion)

I'll grab your toe.
Leggo my toe!!
After a few moments they went their own ways, non the worst for wear.
Long-billed Dowitcher with what appears to be a Dragonfly nymph??

This pump had us puzzled.  We learned it is used to pump methane out of the old dump to fuel local green houses.
Another pond.
The major waterfowl pond.  It is nice to have a local patch for shorebirds.  Saves a lot of travelling to the coast for a sandpiper fix.
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