Today was the last day of my guided Bird Hikes for this winter’s season. These Verdin that I photographed this morning are perhaps a fitting symbol for our two months here at Lake Havasu State Park. The Verdin is a bird I could depend upon seeing daily and was one of the birds that I talked the most about. A resident of the south-west, it was in most cases, a new bird for people visiting from the north and east. Most fascinating and easy to see is its unique nest that it constructs in the shape of a small globe with an entrance on the bottom. Today just before leaving the Arroyo De Camino Cactus Garden we watched a pair, male and female, constructing a nest. It’s a poignant example of what a huge learning experience this winter has been for me. On every hike I have explained, as I had read, that the male constructs the nest. But today we observed first hand that both male and female help in building the nest. It’s sort of the same thing with me and Jeanette, I get all the credit for leading the bird hikes, but helping out every day is Jeanette. We leave tomorrow with mixed feelings, sorry to miss the finished Verdin nest, but anxious to begin our northward migration to home and friends and family.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Monday, February 25, 2013
Jim Wright took Jeanette and me out on a boat tour of Lake Havasu today. I met Jim and his wife Jenna originally last month when they showed up for my Bird Hike on the Sunset Trail at Lake Havasu State Park. They have returned several times and a couple of weeks ago Jim offered to take us out in his sleek bass boat and show us some birding sites on Lake Havasu.
It was quite an education to see the lake from a different perspective, and we were very impressed with the unimaginable number of coves and bays along both the California and Arizona shore lines. We did see a lot of birds, at least four were new additions to my list for Mohave County, and one bird, the Neotropic Cormorant was a new addition to my Life List.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
This photo was supplied by Mark Headings, one of my Bird Hike attendees. It shows several of us zeroing in on the Anna’s Hummingbird nest during Friday’s hike. Who knew birding could be so intense? By the way, we now know there are at least two babies being fed.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
I took this photo this morning during my Guided Bird Hike at Lake Havasu State Park. He was singing his heart out in a Palo Verde tree along the Sunset Trail. There are only a couple of bird songs that I immediately associate with the South West, one is the noisy call of the Great-tailed Grackle and the other is the distinct clatter of the Cactus Wren. I still remember my astonishment when Jeanette’s Uncle Allen identified the song of a Cactus Wren outside in a palm tree while we were sitting inside in our trailer in an RV park in Mesa, Arizona. I couldn’t understand how he could possibly identify the bird just from the sound. That was a lot of birds ago.
Friday, February 22, 2013
This nesting hummingbird is a little hard to see among all the vegetation, and I think that’s exactly the way she planned it. It’s a female Anna’s Hummingbird and she has hidden her nest in a Palo Verde Tree. We found her and the nest in the Arroyo De Camino Cactus Garden of Lake Havasu State Park on February 13. I have been checking on her daily and she is always there except for short forays out for food and water, and one day I could swear she was out exercising in the morning sun. Incubation is typically two weeks, so I’m hoping to get a glance at the chicks before we leave on the March 1.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
After lunch today Jeanette went with me to try to get a second look at a couple of questionable sightings I had during my morning Guided Bird Hike. We were walking through the Arroyo De Camino Cactus Garden when we heard a call that I thought was different than a Quail and Jeanette thought similar to a Dove. When I looked up on the ridge toward the sound we saw this Greater Roadrunner. Their song is described as a descending series of low pitched coos, weaker at the end. This was a first for us to hear and it obliged us with a performance of several minutes with this striking pose. Sibley says, “—standing bird adopts variety of comical poses”, and I would point out that they are after all in the same family as Cuckoos. I had witnessed a lot of interaction between two Roadrunners earlier, so I’m sure this is all a part of the mating ritual.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
I found this Mourning Dove nesting in a Saguaro Cactus in the Arroyo De Camino Cactus Garden this morning. I also spotted a Verdin starting to build a nest in a Palo Verde Tree, and checked for the fifth day in a row on a nesting Anna’s Hummingbird. Male Great-tailed Grackles were seen in higher areas in their odd breeding stance of sticking their nose in the air. Red-wing Blackbirds were making quite a racket in the cattail marsh. Any day I expect to find a pair of House Finches setting up house. It’s all about nesting right now for the resident birds that stay here year around.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
You know how the saying goes – “the early bird gets the worm”, well this early bird got the crayfish! I went out early this morning to take advantage of the good light and got this Ring-billed Gull tearing apart a crayfish on the beach of Lake Havasu. Perhaps more importantly, I learned something. Evidently the gulls do not spend the night on the beach. During the day I always see around forty gulls in two groups along the beach in front of the campground. This morning, this was the only gull I could find. My guess is that they spend the night at secure locations, perhaps some docks or roofs away from the beach where they could certainly be vulnerable to predators in the night.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
My thanks to Mark Headings for providing the above photo of Saturday’s Bird Hike on the Sunset Trail- -Today closes another very successful week of Bird Hikes at Lake Havasu State Park. I have had 44 attendees in the past five days, which gives me a pretty good average day count. There have been a good number of people coming in from the city so I am not dependent on just the campground. Daily I have been able to point out and educate people on new birds, both residents and migrants along the shore of Lake Havasu. It’s been both demanding and rewarding. It’s an intense two hours of leading the hike, but in addition it takes a good amount of time in preparation and follow-up. My interest and knowledge of birding continues to grow, and it’s very stimulating to be able to share this experience with others.
Friday, February 8, 2013
One of the birds people seem interested in learning about on my guided Bird Hike is the Verdin. A resident of the South West, the Verdin is a bird that most of the people visiting from northern states know nothing about. A unique practice of the Verdin is the ball shaped nest that it constructs with a lower side entrance. If you look closely in this photo you will be able to spot a Verdin in the lower right hand corner sticking his head out of the nest. Verdin males make many of these structures each year and then the female selects one to use for nesting. The other spare structures are often used for roosting, their sturdy construction providing insulation for year around use.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Color is starting to appear in the desert at Lake Havasu State Park. The rains that we endured last month and the current ample sunshine are starting to produce some wonderful blossoms. This Mohave Lupine seemed to appear almost overnight in a wash that we drive or walk by daily. The bright yellow sunflowers of the Brittlebush have been showing off for several weeks now, but this lupine really got my attention yesterday.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Yesterday afternoon on our day off we enjoyed a stroll along the Bridgewater Channel. The Bridgewater Channel was constructed by Robert McCullough in 1971 to run water under his desert reconstructed London Bridge. It cut across the Pittsburg peninsula connecting the waters of Lake Havasu and creating what was to become The Island. Today the one mile channel is a beautiful developed area with a European flair of shops, restaurants, hotels, walkways and parks. The waterway was quiet yesterday, but normally it is filled with kayaks, canoes, fishing and tour boats, paddle boards and ski boats. Sunshine and seventy degree weather made for a perfect stroll along the east bank and a visit to the dog park.
Sunday, February 3, 2013
This morning during the guided Bird Hike we were treated to a small flock of Least Sandpipers busily working through the rocks along the shoreline for bugs or whatever. They are so small that they go unnoticed most of the time is my guess. It could also be that they go unnoticed because they blend in so well. Can you see this one in the photo?
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Each morning when I walk down to the cactus garden to lead the Bird Hike I never know what to expect; will anyone show up, if so, how many and what will their level of interest and knowledge be about birds? Today when I saw two boys unload out of a car I was mildly surprised as it was a first to have youngsters join our hike. My smile widened when I spotted the binoculars on little four year old, Madden Jones. But then my jaw dropped when he began to tell me about the birds they had already identified where they were staying. Madden won my heart. My thanks go to his grandmother Marianne Jones for supplying the photo.
Friday, February 1, 2013
This male Anna’s Hummingbird is shown zealously defending his territory as male hummingbirds are so known to do. Today we saw 5 different males, each with his section along the Mohave Sunset Trail. Outside of the American Coot, the Anna’s Hummingbird is probably the most dependable bird to be seen on my daily Guided Bird Hikes. I have now completed a full month of leading bird hikes at Lake Havasu State Park, and in looking back in my notes the tally is 71 people on 18 hikes during which we identified 64 different species of birds. I am pleased with the month, particularly considering the threatened closure of the campground for utility construction. My appreciation and thanks go out to Supervising Ranger, Cindy Smith, for her vision and determination.