September (instead of winter) finds me in Arizona. I had to fly (yikes!!!) down here as my elderly (90 year old) father underwent major surgery for mouth cancer in late August. After a little more than a month, he is still in the hospital, and probably will remain there another three weeks. He may then go to a rehab center before coming home. To make matters worse, just before his operation the retina in his right eye detached. He could not get it repaired before his cancer surgery so he has lost the sight in that eye, and the other eye has macular degeneration, When it rains, it pours. Up until the surgery he was playing golf three days a week.
The weather here has been HOT – most days are in the 90s, with a couple of days surpassing 100. So much for it being fall! I thought I was melting. I prefer temperatures in the low to mid 70s. That is ideal for me. But I do love the sunshine. When it is cloudy here for more than a couple of days, most residents get depressed. I can understand how they feel. Sunshine makes me feel like a million bucks. Nowadays I need something positive in my life.
The birding here has been pretty good – fall migration. At my dad’s house we have a pair of Juniper Titmouse, Bewick’s Wrens, and Anna’s Hummingbirds that come throughout the day. I so love the Bewick’s Wren. It happens to be my favorite wren species of North America. I must say though, that the most common species at my dad’s house is the House Finch and the finches are coming on strong now that we have a feeder and water out for the birds. Don’t have to worry about bear here in the summer, just raccoons, skunks, javelina, and rogue cats. Moxie is keeping the cats away.
We also have had an ant problem. They were attracted to the sugar water I dumped on the ground by accident when checking out the Hummingbird feeder. So out came the vinegar (my mom liked to buy it in bulk so we had a lot) and the cornmeal. I think the cornmeal really worked. They eat it, but can’t digest it. We haven’t had a problem since. And these were good sized ants.
In the cool mornings when I’m not birding or hiking, I do walk the neighborhood with Moxie (our dog) for exercise and birds. You never know what you might find. One morning I had a Common Nighthawk flying around in the neighborhood. That was a pleasant surprise. And several nights I’ve heard Great Horned Owls – close.
In addition to rabbits in the neighborhood, I have heard yipping coyotes at night, saw ambitious raccoons trying to get the sunflower seeds off our hanging feeder, and one morning we even had a striped skunk in the yard. I made sure Moxie stayed indoors. Don’t want her sprayed by the skunk. Although I’m afraid it may be hiding out under the deck during the day.
I have taken advantage of cool mornings to get to one of my favorite local birding hotspots – Bubbling Ponds Fish Hatchery located near Page Springs (known as the Page Springs Hatchery Hot Spot). It takes me about 20-30 minutes to get there. I’m just glad it is open to the public during the pandemic. Most of the people I have encountered on my visits there have been people out for a walk -a nice riverside trail and fish rearing ponds.
Each of my visits generally start around 7:00 am in the morning. I spend 2-3 hours there, depending on whether I go to the ponds only, or also walk the trails. At the ponds/wetland alone I can encounter over 30 different species, and only a few of those are ducks.
I checked on eBird, and since I’ve been recording birds at this location on eBird I’ve recorded 95 different species here. Not too shabby. I’m #28 for record number of species seen. I do highly recommend this location (listed as Page Springs Hatchery on eBird Hotspot).
Jack, Moxie, and I went to another favorite area – Bell Creek Trail. We’ve only been here during the winter months so we were quite surprised when we got there around 7:00 am the weekend parking lot was half full. We enjoy the hike here, and we occasionally get some good birds. I was hoping to see the Black-throated Sparrow and I was not disappointed. If you are ever in this area and that is a target bird you might want to check this area out. I would estimate that I’ve seen this bird 8 out of 10 visits. So good odds of finding the bird.
We did hear and finally spotted a Summer Tanager – male, in this case. The females are harder to see as they blend in with the leaves. We didn’t see a lot of species on our visit, but with all the people on the trails that was somewhat understandable.
I wonder what birds October will bring?