Posts Tagged ‘life bird list’

” A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.” – James Dent.

An absolutely perfect morning at Agua Caliente Park in Tucson. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Audubon Bird Walk

As I often do when traveling around the country, I check out what the local Audubon chapter has on its activity calendar.

Here in Tucson, where I’m currently squatted visiting my youngest daughter, that included a bird walk this morning at the city’s Agua Caliente Park. My daughter, although not a birder, accompanied me.

It was a beautiful place to walk, with manicured lawns, ponds and desert-landscaped gardens.

Everyone took a little break from birdwatching to watch the turtles. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My bird list for the day included great-tailed grackles, vermilion flycatchers, yellow-rumped and Lucy warblers, lesser goldfinch, a verdin, mallards, Gambel’s quail, turkey vulture, Cooper’s hawk, northern cardinal, northern beardless-tryannulet, curved-bill thrasher, cactus wren, common raven, cedar waxwing, chipping sparrow and red-winged blackbird.

The most oohed an aaahed-over bird was a green-tailed towhee, which was passing through on its migration farther north. I, however, was more impressed with the Abert’s towhee. Although a much plainer bird, it was the only one among the day’s find that was a life bird for me.

It’s a common bird that sticks around all year in the Tucson area but can’t be found much outside of Arizona. It brought my life list of bird species seen up to 701.

How could it have been anything but a perfect morning?

Bean’s Pat: 400 Days ‘Til 40 http://tinyurl.com/cohgl7p   It’s OK to cry. I agree, perhaps because I’ve recently done a lot of it. And there was nothing anyone could do to make things better, except to simply be there for me.

Read Full Post »

“Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.” – Michael Caine

The flock of American wigeons I saw recently that reminded me of my five-year search for its Eurasion cousin. -- Poor photo by Pat Bean

Bird Talk

My kids tell me I have a better memory for where I’ve seen a new bird species than I do for their birthdays. Well, they’re wrong. I know the dates they were born very well. They just think I don’t because of how often I forget what day it is.

They are right, however, in thinking that I can remember where and when I’ve seen a new bird for my life bird list, which I started back on April 10, 1999.

The first bird on it is an American avocet. It and the next 67 birds on it were all seen when I went on a guided bird tour to Deseret Ranch in Northern Utah. I tagged along as a reporter assigned to do a story on sage grouse.

It was the first time I kept a list of the birds I saw — and the day I became a birder. I give

An American wigeon, a species that can be found all across the United States. -- Wikipedia photo

all credit for my newly found passion and addiction to birdwatching to Mark Stackhouse, who led the tour.

After I had listed the 67 birds, and had decided I would start my bird list, I did a very foolish thing. I added a Eurasian wigeon to the list.

A few years earlier, when I had been following Congressman Jim Hanson around during one of  his visits to Northern Utah, he made a stop at what was commonly known as the Millionaire’s Duck Club, a private hunting club located adjacent to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

Everyone was all excited that day because someone had spotted a rare Eurasian wigeon through a roof-top telescope. I was invited to take a look, and the wigeon became part of the story I eventually wrote. With written proof that I had seen the bird, I didn’t think twice about adding it to my list.

Eurasion wigeons, which can normally be found in winter along U.S. coastal areas. -- Wikipedia photo

But then I got into the spirit of birding, and realized I wouldn’t recognize a Eurasian wigeon if it dropped down from the sky five feet in front of me. And I knew that I didn’t want any bird on my list that I hadn’t personally identified. But to take it off, would be to mess up the entire order of my list.

It took me five years before I did finally see this duck. It was Oct. 4, 2004, in Yellowstone National Park. What a great day that was. And I remember it as well as I remember the days my children were born.

Read Full Post »