Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Talking Nutting's Flycatcher
I caught a 6:15 AM flight last Friday out of Raleigh/Durham to a connecting flight in Dallas that got me to Phoenix about 11 AM. My friends from Ohio, Dan and Doreene, and Laura, and Joe, a birding friend of theirs who lives in Rio Rico, AZ were already there waiting for me. We loaded up Joe's Toyota Forerunner, and headed towards the Bill Williams NWR with the goal of arriving in time to look for the Nutting's flycatcher before dark. We arrived about 3:45 on a windy afternoon and spread out along the road listening for the Nutting's. There were very few birds about, but we did see a couple of verdins chasing each other around, one of which Laura got a photo of just above (click on any photo to enlarge; all photos in this post and the next 2 to follow were taken by Laura Keene).
Joe finally heard the Nutting's distinctive call 1 time around 4:45, but we could not find the bird, and it did not call for us again. With the sun setting, the wind rising and no bird life to speak of, we headed up to Lake Havasu City to spend the night, stopping at the lake to scope what was around--common goldeneyes, clark's grebes and greater scaup being the main birds on the water.
We woke up to find it still windy in Lake Havasu City which worried us a bit. We arrived back to the Nutting's spot at 7:45, and once again spread out to listen for its call. Fortunately it was not windy, and about 7:55 I located the bird quietly feeding just off the road. We had great looks at it for the next 10 minutes. The photo above shows clearly the tail which has only dark on the outside edges, but not across the very bottom--a key marker to separate the Nutting's from the very similar ash-throated flycatcher. While it never called, I did get to see the orange color inside its mouth--another distinguishing marker for the Nutting's. In the photo below, there is a faint yellow tint to the secondaries, a third marker for this bird.
We continued to bird the area for another hour in hopes that the Nutting's would return or call again, but it did not. We did hear and see at least 2 canyon wrens, and Laura got the photo below of one of them.
We had a long drive ahead of us so we left about 9 AM, stopping again at the lake to check out the bird life there. We found a pair of Barrow's goldeneyes mixed in with lots of other ducks, but soon jumped back into the truck to make the 10+ hour drive up to Williams, CA which is an hour north of Sacramento. Our goal for Sunday morning was to see the falcated duck. Stay tuned!