It’s been a busy past couple months with doing vegetation surveys for GBBO as well as trying to get in as much birding as possible (along with the usual ebird and documenting rarities seen that results from such birding), that I have not had as much time to write. Hopefully that will change (I know promises, promises).
In any case on 4 Nov 2013 during a trip down to the Cibola NWR and CVCA (Cibola Valley Conservation Area) to do some vegetation survey work (and birding) with Jennifer and Michelle Tobin I was fortunate enough to discover a Streak-backed Oriole! I don’t get to bird this area as often as I like and was hoping for something interesting, so we had scheduled some birding time in with the work (and we always pay attention to birds while working) but in a twist of fate the oriole was found neither while birding or working!
We had been driving through the Parker Valley and then the Palo Verde Valley south of Blythe, checking a few agriculture fields in the hopes of shorebirds, raptors, sparrows, or longspurs (of which we found nothing of interest). These areas are all rather open and after several cups of coffee (as well as the usual water) nature was as they say, starting to call. I decided that CVCA just across the Colorado River with its tall, dense trees would make a good spot. As we drove through the vast, open agriculture I could imagine my spot, all picked out. Getting close I mentioned to the Tobins that we would be making a brief spot to answer the call. Objections were made, we are close to Cibola NWR and Nature Trail with its port-o-potty. I waved such objections away as the need was growing and the trees were near! I pulled over at my spot and headed along a road into the tree plantings. Immediately I saw and heard several Orange-crowned Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Figuring I could wait a few seconds I started sphishing. Instantly more birds came in and I was soon surrounded by Orange-crowned and Audubon’s Warblers as well as kinglets. A good mixed species flock always gets my hopes up!
All of a sudden an oriole popped out of the Coyote Willow and I could easily see its glowing bright reddish-orange face! The bird stayed in view for a couple seconds and I stood there with my mouth open in shock! I ran back to the car to get the Tobins and my binoculars and camera! Jennifer later said with how fast I came back and the look on my face I was either being chased by someone scary or I had just found something very good! They jumped out of the car and I grabbed my equipment in hot pursuit! The bird was skullky and quiet, easily lost though it never seemed to move anywhere far or fast. Feeding slowly and deliberately in the tops of the dense Coyote Willows. With luck and trying a variety of sphishing styles (each worked once and only once) we were able to get good, but not great looks at the bird and I was able to get a couple of photos. It was looked for the next day but not refound. It should also be noted that most of this photos have also been posted at azfo.org. That however was the story of the best pee spot ever! And yes I did eventually remember the reason for stopping in the first place…
– David Vander Pluym