“Let’s hope we will have good luck and see a great bird while we are sitting here,” I stated. The caravan of Thursday Birder cars were stopped along Highway 285 north of I-40, waiting for the flag person to give us the go-ahead to proceed.“I see a Pinyon Jay,” Mary Lou said. “See, it has a short tail, which is diagnostic. We commented on the fact that it was alone – not normal for Pinyon Jays that travel in flocks.
“The first one I ever saw was alone and perched on the top of a pine just like this one,” I responded. Depending on where cars were in the back-up, Mountain Bluebirds and Chipping Sparrows also were seen in the areas next to the road. We communicated our sightings via the two-way radios.
Finally, it was time to move on.
“I just saw a Burrowing Owl,” Sheri exclaimed. I immediately pulled over on the shoulder and those in my car got a good look.
The rest of the cars were waiting for us when we got to White Lakes Road, just past Mile marker 263.
We drove slowly, stopping often to check out birds.
“I hear an Eastern Meadowlark,” Rebecca signaled through the radio. Since we were now the last car, it was gone before we got there. Most of the meadowlarks we saw during the morning were westerns.We all pulled over near a dried playa. Just as we got out of the car, the Mountain Plover announced itself with its low trrr as it flew by, as if to say, “Look at me; look at me.” When it landed, its plumage blended in completely with the dry grass. There was only one; however, it stayed in one place long enough for everyone to get good looks through the scope, before it flew further out in the dry grass, calling as it flew.
Before we got Highway 41, we saw a Ferruginous Hawk sitting on a power pole, Northern Mockingbirds, Lark Sparrows, a Logger-head Shrike, and an Ash-throated Flycatcher. A small flock of eight corvids flew past.
At Highway 41 we turned north a short ways to Simmons Road where we drove west, stopping to watch Horned Larks cavort in the fields, and then proceeded to a place where Burrowing Owls have nested in the past. We walked a short ways onto what appeared to be an abandoned farm. We watched meadowlark activity under a metal tower.
“I see an owl,” BJ said. It had flown, and then landed. It took awhile for everyone to get a good look, and then it flew off again. It was very active over the next few minutes – perhaps it was trying to distract us from its nest.
As we traveled south on Highway 41, we spotted a Swainson’s Hawk on a power pole, and a short ways down the road, another Ferruginous Hawk.We stopped opposite a farm house surrounded by large trees. A hawk, probably a Swainson’s, was sitting on a nest at the top of the tree. Barn Swallows swooped over the fields. A Scaled Quail called as it perched on the farm’s boundary fence. We spotted a Bullock’s Oriole in one of the trees.
Our final stop was a private residence nestled in a stand of large trees which acted like a migrant trip, as well as attracting local nesting birds.Our first bird was a Blue Grosbeak, followed by a Bullock’s Oriole. A lagging White-crowned Sparrow fussed at the edge of the driveway.
We hoped to see the Barn Owl that nests here. As we entered the property, the owl, which had been in the top of a large tree, flushed and flew off. I could see the side of its face, but we wanted better looks.
“I see yellow in the conifer,” someone said, and then another person spotted a Wilson’s Warbler flitting. Some of us pursued the warblers, while others went in search of the owl. We wanted to be everywhere at once.
A Hermit Thrush was skulking at the base of a tree. Before we left, it came out in the open and perched on a lawn ornament.
Some saw a MacGillivray’s Warbler and a Common Yellowthroat. Most got looks at the Yellow-rumped Warbler.
“I hear a peewee,” Rebecca announced. Before long, it flew into a nearby tree, which it used as it launching point for its sorties.
Other species seen by the group included Western Tanager, Black-throated Sparrow, Brown-headed Cowbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, Robins, Great-tailed Grackles, and Black-chinned Hummingbirds.
Before we left, we were rewarded with good looks at the Barn Owl.
When we went down the list while we ate lunch, we were delighted to find out we had seen 52 different species.