Sunday, 12 July 2009

Arizona Bird Listing, 2001

Sedona, Arizona

First off, thanks to Max Silverman for donating his picture of a red kite to this blog’s header. And talking of pictures...

I was browsing my friend, Baxter’s, photographs when I saw this great vista of Arizona, where I lived in the late 80’s. I could kick myself: I wasn't birding back then. What riches did I miss?

To find out, I returned for a few days in my Silicon Valley period – not to Sedona, the location of this shot, but back to Phoenix and Tucson, the latter being the birdy hotspot. I added fifteen species to my life list in a couple of days and, but for the standard stingy American vacation allowance, would have stayed for more.

Of the new birds, five have remained my only sighting ever: gilded flicker and pyrrhuloxia at San Xavier Mission; and canyon towhee, painted redstart and yellow-eyed junco at Madera Canyon. Of the others I think that verdin has become my favourite. I've seen this little tit-like bird since in Southern California.

I had entered the state at Needles and driven down through a night at Lake Havasu City and actually avoided Phoenix on a loop round highway 85, where the strange town of Ajo held cactus wrens for the trip’s first lifer. I had to wait for the next day’s visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to really get the list going with five more additions. Then came the Mission and the Canyon.

Almost as a final act I revisited my old apartment block in Tempe to find my first ever Inca doves. Just think: they'd probably been there all the time.

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