Total ABA Species Recorded During 2010 - 731

Monday, November 29, 2010

Streaked-backed Oriole

After a motel breakfast, Chris and I headed out of Phoenix toward Yuma.  It took a bit less than three hours to get to Tacna AZ, turning north and then west to reach the grove of trees surrounding a pair of houses associated with the large agricultural fields in the area.  When we stepped out of the car, we knew immediately what we were up against.  The wind was blowing about 15-20 mph.  You couldn't hear anything and the birds were hunkered down.  We spent about three hours walking up and down the road checking out the trees, bushes, and thickets alongside.  We did see several of the birds characteristic of southern AZ like Crissal and Curve-billed Thrashers, Abert's Towhee, Gambel Quail, Vermilion Flycatcher, Gila Woodpecker, Verdin, and Black-tailed Gnatcatcher.  But nothing like an oriole appeared.  So we hopped into the car and drove back to the interstate which brought us closer to food and to an internet connection.  We cancelled our previously reserved trip to San Francisco so we could spend the afternoon looking for the bird without the worry of getting back to Phoenix for a flight.  After lunch, we went back to the ranch where Ericka Wilson and two friends were looking for the oriole.  So we all looked together while I caught up on Erika's news.  An hour and a half didn't produce the oriole, so Erika's group left intending to return tomorrow.  Shortly after they left, the owner of the house invited us into her yard.  We started carefully worked the southern edge.  In a non-windy interlude we heard an oriole-like chatter which froze us on the spot.  Directly in front of us was a pomegranite bush with fruit.  The call had come from there.  We inched up and took up positions on opposite sides of the bush.  I squeaked and out popped the oriole.  "I've got it!"  Chris raced over and after some initial frustration got to see the bird.  I managed a couple of pics (photo).  We called Erika to tell her the oriole had shown up.  I called Paul Lehman to thank him for finding the bird and for calling me.  Erika and friends returned and we showed them where the bird was, but it had become a supreme skulker and was staying hidden in the interior of the bush.  We left them to get the bird and drove back to Phoenix.  Along the way I made new airline reservations to fly home tomorrow.  But at a stop at McDonald's for coffee and wifi, we discovered that the Northern Lapwing had gone missing for the day, but the Brown Shrike had been seen.   Chris and I discussed what to do and finally decided to rebook a flight to San Francisco for tonight where Wes Fritz would pick us up and we would go for the Brown Shrike tomorrow.  We made it back to the airport in time to turn in the car and get checked in for our flight.  Tomorrow, we'll be in Northern California trying to get the shrike before the weather gets foul.
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  1. Rock and roll! Man, it's easy to be upbeat when the bleachers are next to a roaring fire in a warm house. In all seriousness, I think that shrike will stick there for a while - they're like Northerns in that they like to spend some time watching from inside vegetation - or from very low perches, like Red-backeds or some flycatchers. This is a tough one!

  2. Good luck and a very happy birthday to you!! Renee

  3. Happy Birthday! Sounds like you got what you wanted - #721. Claudia and I are holding your present in escrow until the end of the year when you'll need a new sweatshirt with an accurate figure on the back.