One of the perks of being a birding blogger is that from time to time, companies will invite you out and brainstorm ideas with you. These are not only beneficial to the company, but most certainly are to the bloggers as far as having a chance to meet in person and generate ideas.
Here we are, ladies and gentlemen: the bird blogging giants! We have Robert Mortensen from Birding is Fun, Mike Bergin from 10,000 Birds, Rue Mapp from Outdoor Afro, me, Tom Wood from Southeast Arizona Bird Observatory and there off to the right chimping away is Laura Kammermeier. Swarovski invited a gang of us out to Arizona this past weekend and it was a blast. I know some of your might be reading this and thinking, "Really, a Minnesota girl went to Arizona in August? She's nuts!"
That may be, but there are some spectacular birds to be had in Arizona and despite the reported high of 105 degrees Fahrenheit in Tucson, AZ we managed to find some cooler times and areas for birding. Though brief, we had time to hit some great birding spots. One was Huachuca Canyon at Fort Huachuca.
On top of connecting with online friends, a big portion of of the fun was getting to see a few birds I missed when I when to my very first American Birding Association convention in Tucson way back in 2005 (man, that was quite a few hair colors ago). One of the birds I missed back then was an elegant trogon and though I've seen quite a few trogons in Central America, what fun to get a trogon in the US! These birds were incredibly cooperative, I got to hear them calling as well catch glimpses of adults feeding young trogons hidden in the leaves.Other birds we loaded up on here included red-faced warbler, painted redstart, gray hawk, and sulphur-bellied flycatcher.
Though most of the birds we found I had seen before either in Arizona or other areas, I always love the opportunity to see birds that I don't get to enjoy often like this acorn woodpecker. There aren't many places left in the US that I can really rack up new life birds and I only expected to get maybe three, I ended up getting 10 new birds which was a bonus.
One of the bloggers to come along was Nate Swick, a name you may recognize from the American Birding Association blog and The Drinking Bird. On top of being a great birder...he likes to pick stuff up from herps to bugs. This was after he had picked up a stink beetle...his finger was rather ripe (and I was the lucky girl driving the car Nate and his stink finger were riding in).
And since my mother is currently without a computer, I blog this next part without too much hassle. Let me tell you about what Nate was smart enough to not pick up:
It's a black-tailed rattlesnake--my lifer rattlesnake. And on the off chance my mother is reading this on one of my sister's computers, do not freak out. I was not laying on the ground with my iPhone up to it's face, I digiscoped this with my phone and the new Swarovski ATX scope.
See, here's the objective lens of the scope and the arrow is pointing to the rattlesnake. Digiscoping not only helps you get shots of distant birds, but also allows you to safely enjoy your first look at your lifer rattlesnake.
The snake was roughly 3 feet long, which I thought was rather impressive for my first time seeing one. I certainly wasn't expecting such a yellow snake. It went about its business and we all gave it plenty of space. Nate even noticed some dog walkers and warned them away.
It was an action packed weekend, but it's totally worth the sore calves and the mild lethargy I feel at my desk today.