Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 28--Arizona

Well, after a quick swing thru Florida, I am now in southeast Arizona. I birded in both Miami and the Everglades yesterday before hopping on a plane for Arizona. I added 6 new birds for the week but no new birds for the year yesterday. I did enjoy my stroll down the anhinga trail in Everglades NP, and even snapped a couple of pictures there of an anhinga and a wood stork (see above).

Today I wrapped up the last day of week 4 here in mixed fashion. While I saw lots of new birds for the year list--no surprise since this is my 1st visit during this big year to AZ--I also was skunked on a key bird down here, the rufous backed robin. There have been a couple here in SE Arizona for a couple of months, but I was not able to locate them at 2 separate sites. However I did get some very good, close looks at 2 crissal thrashers--and got a photo of one (see above). This was a huge surprise since in the past I have never been able to get near a crissal thrasher--they run and hide generally when they realize that you are close by.

At the first location south of Tucson I ran into a woman bird guide I know here who was also hunting for it with 2 friends. After 3 hours of searching on my part, and at least an hour on theirs we came up short. This bird is known as a skulker which means it hides well in the canopy of the tree in which it is feeding, or in the brush as it hunts for food. So I drove up to another location near Superior, AZ called Boyce-Thompson Arboretum. It is an Arizona state park, and is a lovely place to bird. Today though it was raining which made it hard to find birds. The rufous backed robin likes to eat various kinds of berries. Mockingbirds and hermit thrushes do also. I saw plenty of them eating myrtle berries at Boyce-Thompson, but no rufous backed. So tomorrow I will make a second effort to find the elusive robin.

On the food front, I did get a chance to eat lunch at IN-N-Out Burger. I think this is the best large chain hamburger operation in the country. Unfortunately for most of us it is only in CA, UT and AZ. They offer 3 meal choices--a burger, a cheeseburger or a double cheeseburger. It comes with lettuce, tomato and their special mayo type sauce. You can add a slice of raw onion. It also comes with fries and a drink. You can "upgrade" your drink to a milkshake. It reminds me of McDonald's when it first began back in the 50's in southern Cal, which was after IN-N-Out Burger began in southern Cal. I remember as a child growing up in Columbia, MO, that we all thought it was a big deal to go out to dinner once a month at our local Mickey D's. McDonald's has changed alot since the 50's but it appears that IN-N-Out Burger has stuck to its very simple menu. I am always amazed at how busy the outlets are no matter what time of day it is, and how diverse the customer base is--all ages and ethnicities.

Well, week 4 is in the books. I am getting into a rhythm of getting up early, birding or traveling all day, and getting to bed earlier than when I am home. I finished the week with 88 species seen. I added 25 new birds this week bringing the YTD number to 227. Stay tuned!

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