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Arizona Thanksgiving

Part 1: Salton Sea to Willcox

Well, I was one of the unfortunate many who missed the Ross' Gull: headed out to Red Hill right after church and as soon as I was packed, and found the spot with no problem, of course!  (Just look for the mob...)  The bird hadn't been seen since dawn that morning, but I had two nice consolation prizes: the Piping Plover had reappeared in a flock of Semipals, and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull stood out nicely amongst all the Californias and Ringbills!  I really didn't pay too much attention to the other birds around as we were all focused in on one thing.  Ran into Jim Zimmer and John Luther, so it was fun to see familiar faces!

A lone birder searches fruitlessly for the Ross’ Gull as the sun sets...

I left soon after sunset to check into the Brawley Inn, then headed back out the next morning; the mob had thinned considerably, but I ran into several SDFO buddies! So we all hung out, admiring the exquisitely-carved decoys over by the plover spit, but alas, not only was the Ross' a no-show, but so were the Piping and LBB.  A small flock of Snow Geese flying over was fun, and you could hear the cacophony from the refuge (and stopping at the headquarters for the potty, the joint was packed with 'em!)!  Bumped into Ed and Mary Post and Jerry Oldenettel, whom I hadn't seen in ages; chasing a rare bird is a great opportunity to catch up on old friendships!

After checking the flock behind him, Jerry Oldenettel checks the flock on the other side of the spit.

I wanted to be in Willcox by sundown, so I gave myself enough time to quickly check out Bowles Road to see if the spoonbill was still hanging around.  Mama Peregrine was still sitting pretty along the dike on the way out of Red Hill, and coming out of Obsidian Butte, picked up the Laughing Gulls Guy reported earlier in the week, along with one of the Franklin's Gull swimming by itself fairly close to the road.  The dikes were just full of egrets, pelicans, and cormorants, but no spoonbill (although the Lesser Flamingos were closer to the road than I've ever seen them!)

                               

Mama Peregrine Falcon hung out along Garst Road, while feral Lesser Flamingos (often mistaken for vagrant Roseate Spoonbills) hung out beyond the dikes.

Zipped across the desert to Willcox, where I made it in time to check out Twin Lakes before the sun went down, picking up a gorgeous Ferruginous Hawk on the way in.  Along the road to the lakes I heard a "chewy-chewy" out the window, and sure enough, a great Crissal Thrasher was sitting right up on top of a mesquite!  (Had I been thinking, I shoulda digi-scoped ‘im, along with the Franklin’s Gull…) That was a first!  The big lake had lots of Shovelers doing their little "circle dance", and picked up several interesting diving ducks including both Canvasback and Redheads, Lesser Scaup, and three Red-breasted Mergansers, which I guess are rare but regular according to the book.  Some Scaled Quail fed along the shore of one of the ponds on the other side of the road, which was nice as I don't always get them like I used to.  On the way out I went down the side road in search of this "other pond" I had heard other Arizona birders talk about, but decided the road looked too dicey.  As I was turning around, I heard some Redwings, took a look, and voila, there was the little marshy pond, hidden next to the golf course!  There were oodles of Yellow-headed Blackbirds in there was well, along with a white-headed Ruddy Duck!

  Headed in to town after that to crash and prepare for the Chiricahuas the next day. 

                               

"Shoveler Club" at Willcox’s Twin Lakes, along with female Red-breasted Mergansers, somewhat rare there

Continue to Chiricahua National Monument

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