Sunday, November 3, 2013

There is no place like home:)

We are back in Shak3! Boy we never would have imagined how quickly we had become attached to our new home on wheels.

Our new roof looks beautiful- the folks that did the work were awesome & our insurance company rocks- they took care of just about everything including our lodging and meals while Shak3 was in the shop.

Incredible sunsets out our front door:

This past week we have been performing bird surveys in a riparian transect, R1, along the Bill Williams River corridor. What a difference between the arid desert washes of the past few weeks. (not as many photos these days since I don't take my camera with me on the transect surveys) R1 is a cross-section of the Bill Williams River from the southern to northern bank. It consists of Cottonwoods,  Willows and mesquite on the sides. There are sections in the middle that have been overtaken by an invasive species from Asia, Salt Cedar. 

Photos of the Bill Williams River corridor:

Beaver Dam

Beaver Pond

The Bill Will

The prominent birds we are seeing and hearing consist of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets,
Woodpeckers; specifically Gila and Ladderback. We also are hearing and seeing Song Sparrows & towhees ( both Spotted & Abert's) & a few Hermit Thrushes in the understory. 

We have had a number of fun surprise!

There is a rare flycatcher from Mexico, the Nutting's Flycatcher, that has begun to take up residence along the Bill Williams corridor. There is a specific location called "Mosquito Flats" that it has been seen regularly for the past few winters. As you can see from the photo below- it is named Mosquito Flats for a reason. The locals say they have never seen the mosquitos like this. Apparently they are here because of an unusual flood that occurred in August.

Bob in protective netting & gloves

Anyways we had the Nutting's fly right over our head one morning as we wandered along Planet Ranch Rd in our protective mosquito gear. It was not a satisfying look & we really wanted to hear it call it's  loud "WEEP". We continued to stop at the spot after we finished our transects but no luck. One day we were coming out of the R1 transect and Bob heard the "WEEP" and low and behold there it was- the Nutting's Flycatcher. You have to understand that birders from all over the west come to the refuge to see this flycatcher and here it was 10 feet above our heads. I did not have my camera since we were working so Bob ran back to the truck and grabbed the camera and it was still there calling away:

Here it is:)

So of course being the good ebirders that we are - we went home and input the bird and photos into the system. eBird is based on citizen science- that is folks like you and me see birds and then post their sightings so that the data can be processed by the folks at Cornell University that study bird populations and the effects of the changes in our environment. Each region has eBird reviewers. The Lake Havasu City ebird reviewers are amazing!! They are passionate researchers and very familiar with the local environment. When they saw our sighting they were surprised because they have not seen the bird in the specific area where we saw it. To confuse things- it looks very similar to another local flycatcher- the Ash-throated Flycatcher. Luckily we heard it calling and were able to get photos. It has become very clear that when it comes to seeing rare birds it is very helpful to have photos & calls!

Another surprise:

A Tarantula- luckily not in our room

Our Delta count this week identified the changing bird population. The American Coots are a fraction of their earlier numbers. We are seeing constant changes in migratory waterfowl. The grebe population remains pretty constant however the duck population changes through the winter. 

A Redhead

Here is an Earred Grebe- note how far his legs are towards the back- making him an excellent swimmer but limited mobility on land. 

Belted Kingfisher

Great Blue Heron

We have taken some side trips-

We hiked in along the Bill Williams River corridor and found the end of the river! Here are some photos:

  Cactus Wren in its nest

A beautiful moth

A Rock Wren

A Canyon Wren- they actually come down from the canyons into the riparian habitat during the winter. We have been hearing them on R1. 

Butterflies and Dragonflies are all around us! 

A juvenile Great Egret hunting grasshoppers

A Greater Roadrunner

A male and female Black-throated Gray Warbler

An Oregon Junco - which is a subspecies of the Dark-eyed Junco

Ladderback Woodpecker

The End of Bill Williams River. This water is releasd from the Alamo Dam at a pretty constant rate if 14 cubic feet per second. 

A Tarantula Wasp- the female searches for Tarantulas to lay her eggs in??

Mating Dragonflies surround the end of the flow 

Who was here?

We are trying to figure out what species this pretty little thing is

We took a trip out to the Ahakhav Tribal Preserve and had a wonderful time. 

Phainopepla female

Vermillion Flycatcher

The Greater Pewee was still hanging out calling! It was pretty cool to get to see it again. 

A hunting Hermit Thrush

Here are a few of the birds around refuge headquarters 

The Common Mergansers are coming in for the winter

We had this accipiter fly in next to our parking spot. It hung out hunting from a pole for quite a bit. We had a chance to take lots of photos but still cannot tell if it is a Sharp-shinned or Cooper's Hawk!! If anyone has any ideas let us know what you think. 

Male House Finch

Last but not least an adult White-crowned Sparrow

Going with the flow:)

Turtle and Hawk

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