March 15, 2007

I Love the Smell of Birding in the Morning

I could definitely get used to this. Sonja and I woke up this morning to another beautiful sunrise and decided to go for a short birding hike to the picnic area. We've been hearing rumors that assorted neo-tropical migrants are starting to arrive (there's one in particular that I am really excited for Sonja to see), and thought we would take advantage of our day off together and take in the dawn chorus.

While we didn't see any new species, we did encounter a lot of Lesser Goldfinches, Dark-eyed Juncos, American Robins, Gila Woodpeckers, Abert's Towhees, and a beautiful Anna's Hummingbird. We also got a chance to watch a pocket gopher excavating mouthfuls of dirt out of one of its elaborate tunnels. That was a first for both of us.

Sonja needed to run into town for a few errands so I decided to go grab our camera and see what I could capture while the morning light was still good.

First up was a beautiful Red-tailed Hawk perched at the top of a sycamore. I watched it for about five minutes before it took off, diving out of view beyond Beaver Creek. I didn't see it again, so I can only assume it was busy devouring whatever unfortunate critter found itself getting pounced on by a fistful of talons.

Next was a very vocal Northern Cardinal in our backyard. Spring is definitely in the air as every single male bird is busy singing like he's got a pair. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Bet you didn't know I was such a good rhymer.

I'm planning to grow my hair out like this. Fortunately, this is still a viable option for me since, unlike some of my brothers, I still have a full head of hair.

And I just couldn't resist spending a little time with my new pal, Clarence the Shiny Black Beetle. Not quite sure what species it is, yet. My preliminary guess is that it may be a Psydrus piceus, a species of ground beetle. But I haven't taken the time to key it out, so chances are I'm way off. I've seen quite a few of these rather large beetles, always on the ground (hence my assumption that it is a "ground beetle"). Pretty smart guess, huh? Anyway, I thought he was cool. He even cooperated with me to perform this little high-wire acrobatic stunt (click on the picture to watch Clarence in action!).

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