Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Bird Counts Are My Life

While tending my garden, attending potlucks, celebrating friends' birthdays, enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving in Mississippi, and banding hummingbirds in the yard have been some minor activities over the past weeks, my life has been dominated by the two Christmas Bird Counts that I'm organizing.

Tucson Valley Christmas Bird Count (blog here) is scheduled for Sunday, Dec 16, and as of this moment we have 119 birders in 27 teams as well as 6 feeder watchers. There should be 50 feeder watchers, but many don't know about the CBC.

Atascosa Highlands Christmas Bird Count (blog here) will be on Saturday, December 22, and the 21 teams of 71 birders will have a very different experience than the Tucson Valley counters. It's virtually all wilderness. In fact, I can scarcely think of two circles in US so close to each other (58.5 miles center-to-center; or 43.5 miles edge-to-edge) with such radically different characters as AZTV and AZAH.

Larry Norris and Brian Walsh have been banding hummingbirds on a nearly weekly basis in the back yard for the past month, and I've been here for all but one session. Yesterday we recaptured a banded female Anna's Hummingbird that had been banded a couple months earlier some 55 miles south of here at Sonoita Creek State Natural Area. She was first recaptured here in mid-November, so it looks like this is where she's decided to spend the winter.

Then last Wednesday, my friend Brian McKnight and I made an honest attempt to get a record late date for Chiricahua White (Neophasia terlooii) in Madera Canyon. It was warm and beautiful, but no whites. We did see a few Painted Ladies, Southern Dogfaces, a Common Buckeye, and Ceraunus Blue. We hike up Old Baldy and down the Super Trail, a good 3-hour workout.

This is looking down from the Super Trail to the NW, over the Madera Canyon bajada, Green Valley, and the blight of copper mine taling and slurry piles.

Looking the other direction up at Mount Wrightson (9470 feet, 2885 meters), with the lush Bellows Spring Canyon dropping down towards us.

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