Monday, November 29, 2010
Bob Ake and I were on the road at 6:30 AM to make the 160 mile drive from Phoenix to look for the streak-backed oriole near Wellton, AZ. We arrived about 9:15 to find a sunny, chilly but very windy morning. We checked in with a couple of birders who gave us the most recent info about the bird. Chris Taylor had some very good pictures that he had put on the web (bottom photo), and the consensus this morning was that this oriole was definitely a streak-backed oriole--not a hybrid as had been speculated yesterday.
We spent the morning checking all the birds, most of which were hunkered down because of the wind. The top photo is of a group of mockingbirds that kept returning to this low dead shrub. About noon we decided to take a break and get some lunch which we found at a small cafe. Breakfast was the best choice on the short menu, so we chowed down on eggs, etc.
Back at the oriole site we found 3 more birders, including a woman Bob knew, who had driven in from Sierra Vista, AZ to try to find the bird. After about an hour they left, and right after the owner of the property told us she did not mind our walking in her yard to try to locate the oriole. Within 10 minutes we heard an oriole like chatter, and realized it must be in a very dense pomegranate tree. Sure enough we soon got some brief glimpses of it, and then with some "squeaking" it came out enough that Bob got a pretty good photo (middle).
As soon as we saw the bird we called the cell of the 3 birders who had just left, and they returned to try to see the bird. It stayed hidden for the next 20 minutes, so Bob and I decided to head back to Phoenix. We had talked with Wes Fritz in the morning and decided not to go to CA to try for the brown shrike because it had not been seen today, and the weather was going to get very rainy starting tomorrow afternoon. But on our way up to Phoenix we heard that the shrike had been seen this morning, and we quickly decided to head to San Francisco after all. So we are sitting at the airport waiting to board our plane.
We saw 23 more new birds for the week, and the streak-backed oriole brings the YTD up to 696. We are hoping for a trifecta tomorrow with the brown shrike. Stay tuned!