2017-08-12 Driving Up The Colorado River

Spotted Sandpiper - Tringa macularia

I’ll be spending the next few days driving north into the Inter Mountain States. I’ll be meeting with a friend in Salt Lake City to spend a few days hunting birds in the reserves in the area before we move on to see the eclipse on the 21st.

I left the Salton Sea early this morning and crossed over into Arizona near Blythe California. I prefer to drive the Arizona side of the Colorado River when driving north through this Valley. Even if the gas in California wasn’t $0.50 to a dollar more expensive, I enjoy the scenery going through the agricultural lands on the Arizona side.

My first stop to look at the river more closely was at Parker Dam, where not much activity was seen in the way of birds on the water. Driving past the Bill Williams River area I could see nothing in the way of waterfowl,  so I kept driving north. I had it in the back of my mind I wanted to stop at the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge at Catfish Paradise. I’d spent time at this place in the past and it was located such that gave me a good break from the drive.

The birds I was aware of while visiting Catfish Paradise this time were Clark’s, Western, and Eared Grebes. A single Ruddy Duck hen was the limit of waterfowl I saw on the river this day. I heard a calling Yuma Clapper Rail (or whatever the name currently in fashion). A single well-worn scruffy towhee, a distant Common Yellowthroat and Black Phoebe where the limit of the passerines I saw. With temperatures near 106°F, I was persuaded not to pursue a more exhaustive bird hunt.

I observed one of the Clark’s Grebes behaving in what seemed to be an aggressive manner to one of the other birds. I changed my mind when it met the other bird and the behaviour seem more like begging. The begging bird was as big as the other bird, and from my perspective it seemed to have all the identifying characters of the other bird. I saw Western Grebes further out with young that were clearly smaller than the parents. Perhaps the Clark’s (at least THESE Clark’s) nested earlier.

I believe the Spotted Sandpiper stole the show and posed most satisfactorily in all its finest breeding attire. Tomorrow I plan to spend the morning at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve.

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