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Friday, April 28, 2017

Closing in on Burrowing Owl nest

Again today CMO hosted a host of birders. I've had a couple of reports of flat tires after leaving CMO. I usually rake the road but haven't been able to this year, what with trying to recover from my still ongoing sinus infection. Otherwise, there's no solution with 4-ply tires. So come with a plan in the event of a flat. And I'll work on the road some Monday if able.

Some migrants are showing up. There was a report of someone seeing a Townsend's Warbler today. I didn't see it to confirm it and don't know who reported it. Surprisingly, it seems we see Ruby-throated Hummingbirds where ever we look. No idea how many there are. I'm wondering if when they come through as juveniles in the fall they remember the feeders and make a point to come through in the spring. Normally, this isn't their spring migratory path.

Nice having the parking area not so cramped anymore. Love the logo on these cars.

Coming to town this afternoon I found two Burrowing Owls sitting on fence posts in the general vicinity that Michael Gray found that nest burrow the other day. I didn't have time to check it out today, but I will soon. I know where to look now. It's about a quarter mile south of the Larremore Ranch gate, which is a few miles south of the entrance to Elephant Mountain WMA.

Me with leaders from Naturalist Journeys tour

Thursday, April 27, 2017

An out-of-sync day

I just felt out-of-sync today. I was either a second too slow to get a photo I wanted, or shooting into the sun, or not having the camera set right, or cutting off the bird's tail...

Female Phainopepla eating mulberries
My sinus infection might be dragging me down because I don't have the energy I think I should be having.

I thought I saw my first fledged Lucifer Hummingbird for the year and was determined to get a decent photo if it took all day. Here was the best I could do. He was perched in shade and my camera doesn't do well in shade.

However, I sent the photos to expert Kelly Bryan and he say's it's not a juvenile but either an aberrant adult or a hybrid (maybe both). I really appreciate Kelly's expertise. It's invaluable!

And would you believe I got another Arizona Skipper today in my worn out verbena patch! Since it's been exactly two weeks since the last one, this must be a different individual. Looks too fresh to be two weeks old.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hot dry season

May and June can be the hottest, driest time of year. I hope this year won't be brutal. My lovely verbena patch is fading fast. I even watered it, but didn't help. It looks good in the cooler months but by now has pretty much gone to seed. Only saw an intrepid bee fly (?) on it this afternoon.

Although my dragonfly guide says Filigree Skimmers fly all year, I just today saw my first one for the year at the oasis. I think she was freshly hatched and drying her wings.

Birding is still slow at CMO even though migration should be well under way. Plenty of birders though.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Alpine Cattle Egrets

When three Cattle Egrets showed up at the ponds in Alpine I realized I didn't have any decent photos of that species, so I took a bunch.

Other than that, it's windy. If I have to be in town I'm glad to do it on a windy day. Can't wait to get back to CMO tomorrow though.

Monday, April 24, 2017

More Burrowing Owls

Migration hasn't produced any big fallout, but they're trickling in. Got the first migrating MacGillivray's Warbler today.

Yesterday when Michael Gray and Cecelia Riley left CMO for their home in Ft, Davis he discovered a Burrowing Owl nesting site around halfway to Alpine, not the same area as I had seen one. So now I'm gung-ho to locate it and photograph it myself. Meanwhile, Michael generously gave me permission to post his photos. His are better than mine will ever be, of course.

I'll try to go down Wednesday about the same time of day as he came by there and hopefully will locate them. Here's a photo of a Black-tailed Gnatcatcher he took at CMO yesterday.

And finally, a fascinating panorama Michael shot by stitching four photos together.

Left is my mountain, then W Corazone Peak toward the center, then on the far right is Williams Mountain. I think the photo is a bit deceptive in that it makes the mountains look like islands standing out in a desolate area when it isn't like that at all. It's actually cozy with no expanse of desert. The oasis is tucked inside a high basin surrounded by mountains on all sides. That's how it seems to me anyway.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Left to right: Bill Sain, Madge Lindsay, me, Cecelia Riley & Michael Gray
I think the Big Sit went well. It was the first one for the oasis.  Forty-eight species were tallied from inside the 17 foot circle during the 24 hr period. The day started out at a cold windy 48° but became decent in the afternoon. Highlight of the day was a Wilson's Snipe. Here it is in the bottom of the stucco tank. Photos by Michael Gray posted with his permission.

It was a fun day and I think everyone had a good time.