It’s a new year, and I think this might be the year I finally catch up on my ten year backlog of old photos…
On New Year’s morning, just after midnight, Anne and I were out walking on the periphery of Papago Park, our neighborhood park here in Phoenix, Arizona. We hesitated to stray too deep into the park since people live in it and we didn’t want to meet them at midnight. The people of Phoenix also continue the tradition of shooting guns into the air at midnight (only one person hurt by stray bullet this year!) so we were concerned that safety-minded shooters might aim to have their stray ammo land in the park. Back to the point: we neither heard nor saw any birds at midnight and we were exhausted and our friends were visiting. When we finally woke up, House Finches, Eurasian Starlings, Rock Pigeons, and Anna’s Hummingbirds were likely the first birds we heard from our home or saw on our walk down the sidewalk into Papago. Then this flock of Common Mergansers was the first photo-worthy flyover of the year!
After breakfast, we took Dan and Kelly over to (The Riparian Preserve at) Gilbert Water Ranch where we saw a few other birds.
And then toward sunset, we took a brief tour of the Desert Botanical Garden where we saw this adorable Western Screech-Owl. Not much of a photo yet.
After Dan and Kelly left, Anne and I headed to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, with some incidental stops to check agricultural bird flocks.
And finally, we arrived in southern Arizona at Organ Pipe!
This tail-less gnatcatcher might make a good ID quiz:
After leaving Organ Pipe, we stopped in at the Ajo sewage treatment facility and encountered an interesting group of gulls, among many other year birds.