A few birds to the north got me out today.
The Northern Jacana, first reported last year but thought to have been present at a golf course pond in Casa Grande for anything up to three years, came back after going missing for the summer. This is a big rarity in the US and I did see this bird last year, but I thought I’d go back and have another look. Well, that was the plan anyway – the bloody thing decided to go missing again and I couldn’t find it around any of the ponds. There was some consolation on the way out of Casa Grande though, when a White-tailed Kite flew over the road, making it onto my “Arizona found list” as #290.
Next stop was the first of my real targets, a Yellow-throated Warbler in Arizona City, a small town basically half way between Phoenix and Tucson. It took a while and the views were distant but I finally got it on the list as Arizona bird #336, USA bird #406 (both of which are pathetically low).
Next I headed to the Santa Cruz Flats. I don’t know what it is with me and Mountain Plovers recently. I spent more than an hour checking all the sod farms that the wintering flock – this year around 25-30 birds – can always be found in. And I found… nothing! Apart from hundreds of American Pipits.
Heading back towards Tucson I stopped off at the Pinal Air Park Pecan Grove to see if I could add Burrowing Owl to my year list. Going against the theme of the day, this proved to be easy, taking my Arizona year list to a paltry 243, which, embarrassingly, is the best I have managed so far. To put this into perspective, “big day” teams have reached 200 in SE AZ in one day…
The last stop of the day was Sweetwater, where there has been a Tennessee Warbler lurking around the Hidden Pond with a bunch of Yellow-rumped and Orange-crowned Warblers. Need I tell you what happened? Not really. I did see lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers though, including one or two of the Eastern race, Myrtle Warbler, and a few other goodies such as Black-throated Gray Warbler, the wintering Summer Tanager and a Plumbeous Vireo.
All that remained was to go home and prove just how blind I had been by later reading that the Jacana, Mountain Plovers and Tennessee Warbler had all been seen since, all in the exact positions I looked for them. Sometimes I don’t know why I bother…