Monday, March 27, 2017

Wildlife Refuges from New Mexico to Nebraska

Our northeast journey took us to Deming, NM for our first night.  A walk to the cemetery across the street from the RV Park brought us a roosting Great Horned Owl that was not at all happy about his nap being disturbed.

Heading north we stayed at Elephant Butte State Park.  Am. White Pelicans were the main attraction here along with Clark's Grebes and a variety of ducks.

American White Pelican with breeding tubercle 

This is the last area that we saw Chihuahuan Ravens - notice the white patch around the neck.

We then spent the day at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.  The Sandhill Cranes had already left for Nebraska, but we found a good variety of waterfowl and a few lingering Snow and Ross's Geese.  It felt like Spring and a huge Bullfrog was enjoying the sun.

Ross's Goose

We then drove to Santa Rosa Lake State Park in northern New Mexico.  Next day off for a quick drive across corners of N. Texas and Oklahoma.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

We spent a couple days exploring the Cimarron Grasslands looking for Lesser Prairie Chickens with no luck.  Then drove on to historical Dodge City Kansas

We read on the birding hotline that Lesser Prairie Chickens had been seen near Minneola which was just south of Dodge City, so we headed there before sunrise.  We didn't hear any displaying on leks, so just drove the gravel roads watching.  We were just about to give up when one bird jumped and flew from a stubble corn field.  We drove on a bit, decided to turn around and go back to the corner we saw the bird.  Three more birds jumped and flew, but one landed in the grass near the road.  After a lot of photos of him hiding in the grass, he jumped and flew and Ty was able to catch a couple full photos.

We spent a day and a night at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.  A dreary day and very windy, we missed the Sandhill Cranes again, we seemed to be right behind them.  Lots of waterfowl in the many ponds amid the grasslands.  Lots of N. Harriers and we saw  lingering Rough-legged Hawk and one early Franklin's Gull.
N. Harrier dives for prey

We moved north to the Cheyenne Bottomlands Kansas State Wildlife Area.  Another very windy day, putting white caps on the ponds.  We found 15 species of ducks and a few gulls, including this Boneparte's Gull and a young Lesser Black-backed Gull.

There is a free campground at the Refuge and we found some Spring arrivals like this Brown Creeper.  Many Robins and Flickers were on their way north. Along with flocks of Dark-eyed Juncos and Am. Tree Sparrows.
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Another stop at the Kirwin Wildlife Area, and some interesting finds - like Greater Prairie Chickens, Ring-necked Pheasants, and N. Bobwhite.  More N. Harriers searching the grasslands for mice.

We finally caught up with the Sandhill Cranes and some Snow Geese - good to see both the "blue" and white phases.  Also saw many Cackling Geese flying north with the other Canada's.

Over 350,000 Sandhill Cranes roost on the islands of the Platte River near Kearney, Nebraska.  Then at first light they fly out to the field to rest, feed, and start courtship dances on their way north.  Many of these cranes go on to Canada, Alaska and even Siberia.

It's been cold and drizzly but the Spring birds are arriving.  Plus, we are adding many eastern birds to our year list.  We stayed at Two Rivers State Park near Omaha and have one more refuge to visit today and tomorrow.  Desoto National Wildlife Refuge on the border of Nebraska and Iowa.
Harris's Sparrow

We are getting ready for some "winter" camping in Iowa and Wisconsin.  Where is all that warm weather that they experienced a couple weeks ago?

Love & Prayers,
Ty & Ida Baumann

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Arizona - Part 2

This is Patagonia Lake and we stayed at this State Park for 3 days.  We found 78 species of birds walking the pasture around the lake including a herd of cows for company.
Cassin's Vireo

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Northern Cardinal - our first for the year

Red-shafted Flicker shows off

Red-naped Sapsucker

Cooper's Hawk hauls nesting material

Eared Grebes courting behavior

Pyrrhuloxia enjoys the visitor's center's feeder

Common Black Hawk migrates over the Lake

Barrel Cactus Fruit

Northern Beardless Tyrannulet 

Vermilion Flycatcher

Pipevine Swallowtail

Broad-billed and Violet-crowned Hummingbirds

A stop a Paton's Hummingbird Preserve gave us the rare Violet-crowned Hummingbird that is also their logo.

After a night's stay at Quail Ridge RV Park we headed over to San Pedro House and this Red-tailed Hawk swooped over all the feeders to scatter all the White-crowned & Lincoln Sparrows, Canyon, Abert's & Green-tailed Towhees, White-winged & Inca doves.
Western Screech-Owl

Lesser & Greater Sandhill Cranes at Whitewater Draw

We then drove to Whitewater Draw where thousands of Sandhill Cranes spend the winter.  We watched them all come in for the night after feeding in the fields from miles around.  We spent the night and enjoyed the sunset and the rising of the full moon.

We drove north to Willcox to spend the next night at Grande Vista and were only able to find one new species for the area - the Scaled Quail.

Our last stop in Arizona was our favorite - Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiraicahua Mountains.  We spent three nights at Sunny Flat National Forest Campground with many other birders.

The rare bird was the Streak-backed Oriole found at the Foothills feeders and had spent the whole winter there.
Green-tailed Towhee

Crissal Thrasher

Rufous Hummingbird at our feeder

Whiskered Screech-Owl

Ty walked far up the South Fork and found the skull cave- one of hundreds of caves the canyon is named after.
Scott's Oriole

Looking east from our campsite are the beautiful rock formations.  We now head out northeast on our way back to Wisconsin.

Love & Prayers,
Ty & Ida Baumann