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Jim W

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  1. This picture was taken at Paton Center in Patagonia, AZ on 4-30-22. My first thought was House Finch. I was somewhat perplexed by the lack of streaking, but decided it might be because the feathers are a little fluffed up. However, looking closer, I noticed the tail. BOW says Cassin's have "relatively short-looking, more deeply notched tails" compared to House. The tail in my pic has me second guessing myself. But, to me, the face looks better for House (although it is somewhat washed out). This has me third-guessing myself. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance!
  2. 🤣 It's funny how the brain works (or in my case, apparently doesn't work). When I was quickly scanning the eBird bar charts for Anza-Borrego, when I came to Western Tanager, my brain pictured a colorful adult male and immediately moved on. I never even considered a female or immature. Yikes!
  3. Still going through pictures from my long drive. I took this picture at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park near the visitor center on April 22, 2022. Only one picture. One note on the pic: The bird shows a lot of yellow. However, if I recall correctly, this area had a lot of bushes with yellow flowers. It is possible some of the color is from reflection. Mostly by process of elimination, I've landed on Pacific-slope Flycatcher. However, I see a couple of issues with Pac-slope (one of which I might be able to explain away). Wing looks too short. This might be an optical illusion. It appears to me that the wing is partly opened and pointing towards the camera. This would make it look shorter compared to the tail. Tail looks too short compared to the UNTC. But, based on eBird bar charts for this hotspot, I'm not sure what else it could be. Any thoughts from the west coast gang? Thanks in advance!
  4. One bird, two pics. My first ever ABA Code 4. Bahama Mockingbird, taken today at Cape Canaveral, FL.
  5. This confuses me. Caspian is out of place in S. FL in winter? PS... I'm not saying it is a Caspian. Just don't understand eliminating it based on range...
  6. I actually measured the bill/head length ratio and the loral angle. Both are squarely in the middle range where it could be either species.
  7. https://feederwatch.org/learn/tricky-bird-ids/black-capped-chickadee-and-carolina-chickadee/ There is a table at the bottom of the page that lays out the differences that @Birds are cool listed. The nice thing is, if you click any row of the table, it opens up and shows comparison pics of that specific feature. One cautionary note: Your bird has a lot of color on its underparts which favors Black-capped (or more likely a hybrid). But pay attention to the fine print. This field mark may not apply in the northeastern part of Carolina's range (they show more color in the northeast). The northeastern part of Carolina's range includes southern NJ (and my hometown in SE PA). You should be below the Black-capped/Carolina integrade range which is further north in NJ. Calling it Carolina Chickadee (versus a hybrid) seems pretty safe.
  8. I saw my only Snail Kite and first Caracara at Joe's Overstreet Landing. I go to FL for a few weeks every winter, but usually I'm up further north. I haven't spent time in the Boca Raton area so I can't help there. I had read that Snail Kites are relatively easy to find on Rt 41 west of Miami, but the one time I drove down that road looking for one I didn't see any. One place to see Burrowing Owls with 100% certainty is Cape Coral on the west coast (unfortunately way more than an hour from Boca). They nest all over and are the town's mascot. When a nest is found, they put a cross-shaped perch near it so people know not to cut the grass or let pets near them. If you are in a hurry, you can use eBird to get exact locations, but you can't drive through town without seeing an owl up on its perch somewhere.
  9. I took this picture on Oct 19, 2022 from the deck of a cruise ship docked in Honolulu. Based on the shape and length of the wings, it looks like some sort of gull to me. But gulls are very uncommon in Hawaii. Any thoughts on whether this is a gull or a tern? If its a gull, maybe I'll try to find somebody in Hawaii that might be interested in IDing it... Thanks in advance!
  10. In April-May, I completed a solo cross-continent drive. Over the last 6 months, I've been posting a few pictures in pic of the day forum and getting help in the identification forum as I plowed through all the pictures I took. At one point, I promised @Charlie Spencer that I would post some trip notes. I keep a detailed travel blog for my family to follow, so this was an easy thing to do. Some background: My wife and I travel a lot, but she does not share my love for long driving trips. So, every now and then I head off on a long solo drive across the continent (starting from my home in West Chester, PA). This was my third: My first was in 2010 (before I retired). This was a 9,481 mile, three week drive to Seattle, Washington and back. My second was in 2018. It was a 17,801 mile, eight week drive to Anchorage, Alaska and back. This was a 13,028 mile, six week drive across the deep south to San Diego, California and back. From the mileages, you can see I do not take direct routes. 13K miles is enough to have gone back and forth from PA to SD twice, and almost make it back to SD a third time. Here is the route I took. The numbers in purple show where I spent each night (all of this is planned, and hotels booked, well in advance). The reason I did a sideways figure 8 (overlapping central New Mexico) was so I could hit the deep south before it got too hot, but not arrive in SE Arizona until breeding season. My main goal on these long drives is to visit national sites (e.g., national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, memorials), drive on national scenic highways, and hike on national recreation trails. I have a pin map in my den showing all that I have visited. After this trip, my count is 888, including at least one in each of the 50 states. Secondary goals are hiking (I hiked 187 miles on this trip) and wildlife photography. I suppose I'm not really a birder (animals only make my life list if I photograph them). However, because I was driving through some very special birding areas, for this trip, I did dedicate significant time to birds (6 nights in the Rio Grande Valley, 5 nights in SE Arizona). I also did a ton of research on where to go to look for new wildlife. My research paid off big time, I was able to photograph 178 new species. I had a list of about 80 high priority birds that I thought would be unique to this trip (birds only found in the deep south). I ended up finding about 80% of them. I also quadrupled my life count of ABA Code 2 birds. Here is my detailed breakdown of new species. As a side note, I rarely try to photograph insects, fish and amphibians. There are so many species, and limited internet resources to identify them. If I see something interesting, I’ll photograph it, but for the most part I concentrate on mammals, birds and reptiles. Since this is a birders forum, here are some impressions of the bird sites I visited. I visited a ton of sites, but here are some that stood out. Rio Grande Valley. This region was excellent, as expected. Unfortunately, even though I set up my schedule to hit the RGV in early April, I caught a heat wave. Highs for this time of year should have been around 85. During most of my week there, the temperatures were over 100 (highest I recorded was 106). This cut short some of my visits (limited to morning and early afternoon). But I still had a great time. My favorite site was Estero Llano Grande State Park. Santa Ana NWR, Laguna Atascosa NWR, and Sabal Palm were all good. Joe & Tony Oliveira Park is definitely worth a stop to see the evening spectacle. SE Arizona. This region was also excellent. I loved the Santa Rita Lodge and thoroughly enjoyed the sky islands I visited. Hiking in Madera Canyon and Cave Creek Canyon was the best on the trip. Along with these two locations, other great sites for birding were Paton Center and Ash Canyon. SE California. I did not place a major emphasis on birding in the SD area, mostly because this is an area I will undoubtedly visit again in the future. I was in the SD area for 5 nights, but I also had other places to visit and had some logistics to deal with (laundry, oil change). Having said that, I did quite well collecting new species in the area. My absolute favorite birding stop in SE California was Big Morongo Canyon Preserve. I visited on a gorgeous day and the hiking was very nice. I also photographed 13 lifer species in 5 hours (not all birds). Other good birding stops included Ramona Grasslands Preserve, the Sweetwater Trail in San Diego NWR, Tijuana Slough NWR and Robb Field (San Diego River). Miscellaneous sites: Along with these three major regions, other memorable birding sites on the trip included: Texas Ornithological Society Sabine Woods (TX) Chisos Basin in Big Bend National Park (TX) Rio Grande Village in Big Bend National Park (TX) Davis Mountains State Park (TX) Disappointments: There were a few sites that I had high hopes for, but turned out to be a bit of a bust: High Island (TX): This site is famous for migrating warblers. I had a decent time here, and enjoyed the rookery, but did not see a single warbler. To be fair, I hit the site early in the season and got to it in early afternoon. Aransas NWR (TX): I got here a bit too late for Whooping Cranes, but still hoped to see other birds. It was a pretty dead day. Cottonwood Springs area of Joshua Tree National Park. You couldn't walk near the springs, nothing else to be seen. Tecolote Canyon Natural Park, Lake Hodges, Kitchen Creek (all in CA).: These sites might be OK for birding, but they were a bit frustrating for wildlife photography. The trails I tried went through heavy brush. I could hear birds, and sometimes got glimpses, but found it almost impossible to get pictures through the brush. Jacumba Hot Spings (CA): The wetlands area was mostly dried up. Not much happening here. Base & Meridian (AZ): I went looking for Barn Owls. All I found were mosquitoes. Finally, my favorite mammal and reptile pictures from the trip. And, since it is a birder site, my two favorite bird pictures (both repeats from pic of the day forum). Mammal is a White-nosed Coati, taken at Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon, AZ. The snake is a Speckled Racer, taken at Sabal Palm in the Rio Grande Valley, TX. Along with being a beautiful snake, it is apparently pretty rare in the US. The first bird is an ABA Code 3 Aplomado Falcon from Laguna Atascosa NWR in the Rio Grande Valley, TX. The second is an Elegant Trogon, taken in Cave Creek Canyon, AZ.
  11. I took these pictures at Santa Ana NWR in the Rio Grande Valley of TX on April 11. I had been seeing several peeps I assumed were Western or Semipalms, but on my second pass through pictures, the bird in the center caught my attention. It looks like it has long wings and a thinner bill. Has me wondering if this is a Baird's or White-rumped. Flanks look pretty clean, so maybe a Baird's? Per eBird, April 11 might be a little early for White-rumped to be passing through. Not sure about the leg color. They don't really look black or yellow to me, more like the color of the mud. Thanks in advance!!
  12. I took these pictures at Devil's Den State Park in Arkansas on May 8 (yes, four months later I am still going through pictures from my cross country drive). It was dusk when I took these and the bird was backlit, so the lighting is poor. I see a hint of lighter colored lores, so my first reaction was it is a Swainson's Thrush. However, looking again, I don't see a hint of buffy wash on its face, throat or breast (although that might be a result of the poor lighting). Now I'm wondering if it might be a Gray-cheeked Thrush? Maybe the lores are just a bit worn? Thanks in advance!
  13. These pictures (all the same bird) were taken at Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge on the western side of the Texas panhandle on May 6. Scaled Quail and Northern Bobwhites are found here. While walking around a trail, I saw and photographed several Scaled Quail. Inevitably, I saw them on the ground maybe 50 feet away and if I walked towards them, they simply ran away. However, on several occasions as I hiked, without warning, 1 or 2 quails would suddenly flush from cover. Maybe 20-30 feet away from me when they flushed. After the first few simply startled the crap out of me when they flushed, I started hiking with my camera up and ready to shoot. I finally managed to get a series of pictures of one of these flushing quails. I am skeptical that the species can be identified from the pictures alone. It was getting close to dusk, so the lighting was not great. The face is not showing well and because of lighting, I'm not sure the color is indicative. However, I'm wondering if the behavior might be a strong clue. I've read that Scaled Quail are much more likely to run to evade and only flush if cornered. These birds where never cornered. Northern Bobwhites on the other hand are known to sit still and then flush if you get too close. So, any thoughts on this? Can the pictures be identified? Is the flushing behavior sufficient to point to Northern Bobwhite? Thanks in advance!
  14. Took this picture at Fort Bowie National Historic Site in AZ on May 3. Head looks like maybe a Green-tailed Towhee... conspicuous reddish crown, white supraloral spot, moustachial stripe, white throat. However, the body looks more like a Canyon Towhee... doesn't show olive-green on its upperparts and maybe a wash of rust on it lower belly. The bird was back lit, so the poor lighting might be changing its look. Thanks in advance!
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