Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A few more Arizona images

Gambel's quail are a charismatic species I've always associated with Arizona. The males tend to be quite vocal with a variety of contact calls in addition to their classic Chi-CA-go "song." I've always been surprised that what must be one of the more delicious members of the local avifauna would be so vocal, but maybe coyotes and foxes would home in more on scent...

Roadrunners are another charasmatic desert bird. In this pic with the long black and white tail drooped down you can appreciate more that they're actually giant cuckoos. For whatever reason the birds this year in Arizona were far more tolerant of people than birds I've seen before in Texas.

This is a less than stellar pic of a black-chinned sparrow photographed from a distance at midday foraging in a Manzanita bush. I initially thought it was a pink-sided junco until I put the scope on it and realized it had a heavily streaked brown and black back.

Ferruginous hawks apparently like the irrigated fields with short green grass or wheat to hunt gophers in. This one was being mobbed by RW blackbirds and flew up alongside the car for a few seconds before alighting on a utility pole (on a surprisingly overcast morning).

Finally one of my favorite sparrows, the sage sparrow, which hopped up into the same mesquite that the LeConte's thasher was in while I was sitting on the ground behind the scope. I'd never before noticed the tiny white central spot that's just above the bill between the lore spots. I was initially taken aback somewhat that this spot was at the intersection of 2 pretty busy (for being out in the sticks) paved roads. Since I managed to get out of sight of the road in fairly featureless sage washes and mesquite lines it was good that I could return based on the sound of the traffic since I didn't realize how far I'd come while I was zero-ing in on the thrasher (though I could also have just walked right towards the sun and that would have taken me back to the road).

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