January in the Southwest Wrap Up

I’m finally back from Arizona and California (for the second time!).  This was my last scheduled trip to California, but I’m hoping to hit Arizona one more time in late April or early May.  Despite some absolutely frigid weather, I had an outstanding trip.

Rugged AZ

Here are some stats from my 8 days in the Central Valley of California and southern Arizona:

Miles by car: 1887

Miles by foot: 25 (approx)

Total species seen: 197

New Year Birds added: 37

Total number of individual birds seen (according to my eBird summary): 8900+ (approx)

Highlights: Nutting’s Flycatcher, Tufted Duck, and two Rufous-capped Warblers

Most painful accidental hug: this 200 year-old saguaro

Large Saguaro

Bird that played “hardest to get”: Le Conte’s Thrasher – I spent almost 4 hours over the course of 2 days looking for it, before finding this one teed up in a mesquite tree.

Le Contes Thrasher

Least Impressive Guinness Book Record Holder: Parker Dam, the “Deepest Dam in the World” at 320 feet.  When I got to the dam, I was like “What?!  That’s not 320 feet!”

Parker Dam

Turns out that 240 feet of the 320-foot “deep” dam are sunk below the riverbed, and another several dozen feet are covered in water.  The exposed part looks kinda wimpy, actually.  A dam disappointment.

Biggest Oops: Thinking that this young first-winter Chipping Sparrow might really be a Clay-colored Sparrow.

Young Chipping Sparrow

The fact that Clay-colored Sparrows don’t winter in Arizona should have been my first clue.

Best sunrise-on-the-rocks: Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge (below)

Western AZ at sunrise

I finished my trip with exactly 500 species seen since I started back in June of 2012.  I’m hoping for 150 to 200 more by the time I’m done less than five months from now.  Next up: some well-deserved time in Washington state with my family, followed by a trip to Texas in early February.

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