Saturday, January 30, 2010
Rufous-backed Robin (Yes)
Perseverance paid off today with the sighting of the rufous-backed robin (see above) at Boyce-Thompson Arboretum. This is a life bird for me, and since it is a rarity here in the U.S., this was a good pick up for my big year. My picture of it is not the best since the bird rarely came fully out in the open, but at least you can get a sense of it, particularly its rufous back.
There was a couple from Illinois also looking for it. Unfortunately, the wife was not feeling well and went back to her car before the bird showed up. The husband did get some good photos, but he had already seen this bird whereas his wife had not. I left before I found out if he was able to get his wife back out to get a look at the robin so that she could add it to her life list.
Earlier in the day I had some other good sightings enroute, including the dark morph of the red-tailed hawk which is called a harlan's hawk. I saw 2 of this form within a mile of each other, and tried to get a picture but to no avail. Most hawks are fine with cars driving by, but when you stop to look or photograph them, they generally skedaddle.
I also was able to go to Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix to have dinner. This place consistently gets glowing reviews, which means that it is always jammed. It is in a small, old brick building in downtown Phoenix, and only seats about 45 people at a time. It became so successful that it opened a bar next door to manage the customer process. That process involves people beginning to show up over an hour before the 5 PM opening time, forming a somewhat ill defined queue. The bar opens at 4 PM so that you can get something to drink, and even some antipasti while you wait. About 4:45 people form a more obvious line based on their arrival time. At 5 PM sharp they open the doors and let in the first 45 or so people. They also give out 3 reservations each night for parties of 6 or more, and the waiting list for that begins 30 days out.
Tonight was the longest line I have seen in my few visits here. Those who do not make the 1st seating give their name to the hostess who then tells them how long their wait will be based on where they are in line. At that point they wait outside or in the bar, throw up their hands and leave frustrated, or if they are locals, they leave and come back at the time the hostess told them they would be seated.
I just missed the 1st seating, and was told it would be an hour and 15 minute wait. I had struck up a conversation with a young couple while waiting from 4 to 5, so I got us all a bottle of zinfandel to share while we waited to get in. Sure enough, at 6:15 we were seated together at the bar. The couple had never been to P Bianco, so they were excited to try it out. Usually you get 1 pizza per person, but they ordered 3 for the 2 of them, and ate almost all of them. They had been to Italy and felt like they were back there again. Having lived in Italy for a year, I have the same feeling about Pizzeria Bianco. The picture above shows the wood fired oven with a pizza cooking inside.
So after 2 days this week, the weekly total is up to 70 species. 6 new species were added to the YTD total, one of which was also a life bird for me. Between the birding and the pizza, I would call this a red letter day. Tomorrow I am off early to try to find what was for a long time one of my nemesis birds--the leconte's thrasher. Stay tuned!