Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Road Trip- Michigan to Arizona to Nevada

I just got to Nevada after spending a few wonderful days in SE Arizona. Kevin Welsh and I drove from Michigan down to Arizona before having to start my master's project in Nevada. He is working here as well.

I have an unbelievable amount of pictures to edit, so be patient. I promise they will be worth the wait.

I'll start with a few birds we picked up along the way. We decided it would be a good idea to check out Horseshoe Lake State Park in Madison, IL to quickly look for Eurasian Tree Sparrows. We didn't have much of an idea of where to look, but two birds on the side of the road turned out to the Sparrows.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Our next stop was Jerome, Missouri. Recent eBird reports of Dickcissel enticed me to take a short detour to see if we could find them. I wanted to clean this bird up before spending a while in the west. There were a few birds singing.

We drove almost through the night, heading for Portal, Arizona. We took a quick "nap" in the car at a gas station somewhere along the way. After we started driving again, while stopping for gas in the northern part of Texas, we were greeted by a few noisy Great-tailed Grackles.

Great-tailed Grackle
We had no more target birds along the way, so we cruised to Portal.

Since I have so many pictures from Arizona, I'll write about those days in future blog posts.

After arriving in Nevada, we needed to get some new/better tires for our field vehicle in Fallon, NV. While this didn't work out for a few reasons, we were close to a wetland called "S Line Reservoir". We killed about an hour that was very productive. It was here I got my first Brewer's Blackbirds and Yellow-headed Blackbirds for the year.

Brewer's Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird
While scanning over the hundreds of coots taking advantage of the water source, a pair of Black Terns flew through my binocular view. Excellent! This was one I didn't have time for in Michigan before I left. They were a bit distant.

Black Tern
Also present were a few Aechmophorus grebes that were too far away to photograph. However, we later came upon a close Clark's Grebe.

Clark's Grebe
Also distant, but still photographable, were my first Cinnamon Teal of the year.

Cinnamon Teal
We came upon another very close Aechmophorus grebe that we initially thought was a Western, but a thing or two bothered me. Specifically, while there is some dark around the eye, it isn't the darkest, especially near the bottom of the eye. The lores also have some white in them (a trait that shouldn't be shown in a pure Western?). The flanks are also a little light for my liking. It is my understanding that interbreeding between Clark's and Western is on the rise. I think I have to throw this bird in the hybrid/intermediate group. Perhaps I'm being too critical, but the white lores really get me...

Aechmophorus grebe
I don't have experience with many hybrid/intermediate Aechmophorus grebes, so if anyone wants to argue otherwise, I'm all ears. In the meantime, I'll work on finding a better looking Western Grebe.

I'll work on my Arizona pictures and get them up here as soon as possible. We had great luck for only being there 2.5 days. More soon!

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