Ants!

We are getting towards the end of our trip now, just a couple more posts to suffer after this and then it’s back to birding/odeing in Quebec and adjacent parts. For those of you interested in odes, I finally updated the ode blog, http://quebecodes.wordpress.com/  Now back to Sedona.

We managed three trips to Bubbling Ponds http://verdebirdingtrail.com/birdsites/hotspot/pagesprings/index.php while stopping at Oak Creek Canyon. We also got to see the newly opened water treatment plant reserve which, as far as we could see, is dedicated to the preservation of American Coots and high vegetation. I’m thinking that the place is in the early part of its development although I’d have put a viewing tower higher up the list of requirements than a washroom. Inevitably the actual sewage works is surrounded by high fences and signs declaring how private it is, so we went and had a look in there too, well OK, from the perimeter fence, still restricted access though.

Bubbling Ponds is a neat little reserve with a nice diversity of habitats and we even saw another couple of bird watchers, although they scampered off after seeing us from a distance. The reserve has always had good things to look at, Abert’s Towhee, Yellow-throated Chat (more tanager type than chat to me but what do I know?) and lots of Lucy’s Warblers. Our second visit earmarked a breakthrough as finally, a pair Bridled Titmice showed. Predicably we saw more of them on our third visit too. As a species we’d spent time looking for an missed, they were definitely edging towards bogey (nemesis) bird status until we caught up with them, even if they didn’t want their photos taking much.

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One thing about the reserve is that the paths are covered in ant nests. I’m not sure what species they are but, last time we were there in 2011, Sandra found out all about their bites and stripped off her trousers while doing a jigg after standing in a nest long enough for them to navigate her tender bits. Perhaps the birders who avoided us this time had seen this performance last time and thought we were actively practicing wicker.

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Probably the most abundant bird present during these three visits was Phainopepla, they were everywhere. The berry bushes were well laden with fruit and loads of flycatchers were taking advantage including Western and Cassin’s Kingbird, Ash-throated and Brown-crested Flycatchers and of course Summer Tanagers. Photo ops were limited by the time available, our trips were only possible after the oldies had been deposited in part of Sedona where they could browse tat and buy beer or ice cream. Luckily they now move at a glacial pace, so we could squeeze a good hour of birding in before we went back to collect them.

Before our last visit we’d ventured off up an unmade road looking for two species I’d not thought likely. The car we had, a posh white one, was much less suitable for off-roading than the cheaper end of the rentals but we needed the power, comfort and trunk space so we had to go with luxury instead of honest endeavour. Below are a few shots from the ponds.

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Western Kingbird – common but only one came close enough for the lens.

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Say’s Phoebe – only a few about, vastly outnumbered by Black Phoebe.

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Ash-throated Flycatcher – hiding its throat the tinker.

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I chucked this Canyon Towhee in here for convenience. It was in one of the Sedona rock viewing parking lots, in fact it was the only decent bird we saw while out rock spotting one morning, lots of rocks though.

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