As temperatures climbed into the triple digits last week, it got harder to get out and do much birding, even early in the morning. The highlight of my week was also one of the low spots in my birding photography experience. I'm calling it Horrible Hump Day at Hassayampa: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
The Good was a pleasant morning spent with my friend, Susan, at the Haasayampa River Preserve near Wickenburg, Arizona. We were hoping to spot and photograph a Yellow-billed Cuckoo that has been seen recently. The Preserve is an ideal breeding habitat for this bird with its tall cottonwoods, a small pond and creek and plentiful insects, especially tent caterpillars, which are the Cuckoo's favorite.
Unfortunately, the Cuckoo eluded us (The Bad), but we did locate several birds also considered rare to this area and I added four new birds to my life list. There are as many as 280 species of birds that nest or migrate through this riparian area, but they are often hidden in the deep thicket of mesquite, paloverde and cottonwood trees, cactus and palms. Having an experienced birder like Susan along was a treat as she was able to identify many of the birds around us by their chips, chirps, chatters and songs.
The Ugly part of this story was that upon returning home, I discovered a setting on my camera had been inadvertently moved and most of the 200+ photos I took were not good for anything other than documentation. It was a hard lesson to learn, but my mother taught me to look on the bright side of any situation so I came back around to The Good. At least I didn't blow a shot of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo!
My neighborhood birds continued to delight me as I observed babies learning to fly and catch food on their own. I saw not just one, but two Roadrunners after several months of absence and I enjoyed the early morning songs of the Northern Mockingbird and Curved-billed Thrasher. Here is a gallery of the birds I bothered last week. Click on an image to see the images in a slide show.
Please note that all images are copyrighted.