Friday, January 18, 2013

Area megas: Ivory Gull and Common Crane!

It's been a wild week for the Colorado River below the Grand Canyon.

Two days ago (January 16), the news came in that an Ivory Gull had been photographed along the Colorado River somewhere near Willow Beach, but it had a broken wing and the report was a few weeks old.  I held out hope that it might be loafing at Willow Beach eating fish scraps, but in fact it was several miles below Willow Beach, on a small (likely ephemeral) sand bar, and it was photographed December 30--nothing encouraging about its continued survival or any likelihood of ever refinding it.

Still, this is an amazing first state record if accepted by the ABC! It's so fortunate that the observers, who I gather were not birders, thought to photograph the bird and send them to Andrew Core. Check out the stunning photos here!

Three days ago (January 15), Norman Parrish visited Overton WMA near the north end of the Overton Arm of Lake Mead and photographed a Common Crane! Carl Lundblad got the word out, and it was seen two days later by Rick Fridell, who posted early that it was indeed a Common Crane and still present. David and I debated for about 30 seconds before deciding to go for it! The drive only took about three and a half hours one way, completely reasonable for a lifer for both of us and first NV state record if accepted by the NBRC.

Often in birding we spend a lot of time looking at dull-but-exciting birds like Nutting's Flycatchers. The Common Crane combined local rarity with a high degree of sexiness, so much so that we watched it for about an hour and a half and only left because we realized it was getting late and we still had to drive three and a half hours home.

Common Crane
One of David's shots of this beautiful MEGA
After seeing the bird, we stopped to get gas and celebratory hot chocolate and I mentioned the bird to the attendant inside.  She was excited about it, and immediately said she'd take her son out to see it, since he loves birds and it sounded interesting. Cool!

Overton WMA, where we stood and watched the cranes feed
 Unfortunately there was a bit of a damper on the experience. When we arrived, a photographer was on the field, walking toward the cranes. The birds were clearly agitated, but she continued moving forward, slowly, in increments. Once it became clear that she was pushing the birds beyond reason, I started calling for her to back off, but she didn't hear me. Finally, she did hear David, and quickly turned and started walking back. At that point, though, she was about 20 meters from the birds, and the sudden movement caused them to flush. There was no reason for her to get that close to the birds. I don't quote the ABA Code of Ethics often, but it is worth a read once in a while.

This should not happen--and take note that this was taken with a 300mm lens (David's photo)
Fortunately, at least, the birds did not go far, just a few fields away. More information about this bird is here. Many thanks to Norman Parrish for finding the bird, to Carl Lundblad for getting the word out and nudging us to go, and to Rick Fridell for confirming that it was present Friday morning!

1 comment:

  1. Right on! I think this is out of my chasin' range, but still, what a cool group of sightings!