Alison finally got back from Washington, DC, so she could join in the birding Iâ€™ve been enjoying with MaryMargaret, a good friend from Princeton days. This is MaryMargaretâ€™s first real birding trip to the southwest, so weâ€™ve been birding pretty much non-stop and seeing lots of lifers, including one of the best Mountain Plover days Iâ€™ve ever seen. The flock at Western Sod was only 17 birds, but they were incredibly close, and watching them doze in the furrows just a few feet away was more than memorableâ€”and knowing that even those few birds represented a precious percentage of the world population of the species was chilling.
MaryMargaret has decided to beef up her owl list, so we spent some time checking likely spots. Our Western Screech-Owl is still resident in his box, and we ran across Great Horned Owls a couple of times. This morning, on our second try, we succeeded in getting good looks at the Burrowing Owls at the Marana Pecan Grove. And our hike up Scheelite Canyon yesterday morning was typically birdless, until we spotted (inevitable verb) one of the worldâ€™s most-watched Spotted Owls perched right above the trail; I walked back down canyon while MaryMargaret lingered a minute or two to enjoy this rare and wonderful sight. And we heard, but unfortunately didnâ€™t see, a Mountain (Northern) Pygmy-Owl in West Turkey Creek Canyon while listening for chickadeesâ€”in vain, alas. But still not a bad way to finish up the 2005 year list!