Monday, October 02, 2006

Two Birders to go (you want fries with that?)

Now that Cynthia had been hooked to bird photography, it behooved us to go to a place where there are lots of birds. Sierra Vista, Arizona, is such a place. Nestled in the mountainous area of the southeastern section of that state, it is dubbed as a birder's paradise, boasting of species seldom, if ever, seen in other parts of the United States.

We left home at exactly 6 am Friday, Sept. 22. By 9:06 am we crossed into Arizona territory and by 3 pm we are checking-in at Best Western in Sierra Vista. It was a long drive, but we had several stops along the way. For lunch, we ate at the Burger King in Tucson, a break from the traditional breakfast at McDonalds. It has become a routine for us whenever we go birding, that our morning should start with a breakfast at the famous fast food place (regardless of where we were ultimately headed). But this was lunch, we rationalized, so it was OK.

There was still enough light to go birding, so after dumping our luggage into our room (thank God it was on the ground floor) we proceeded to the San Pedro Riparian Area about 7 miles away and a well-known birding place. We decided not to bring our cameras as we hit the trail from the parking lot to the edge of the San Pedro creek. We just planned to "case the joint" and see what the place has to offer bird-wise. None of the birds we saw were unusual in the sense that they can be seen in California, too. However, the birds here seem to be more colorful; the Vermillion Flycatcher more strikingly vermillion, the Blue Grosbeak, in deep blue shades.
Close to the creek we met a local birding couple, Mel & Elaine, who gave us suggestions on where to bird at what particular time. Mel was in a middle of a sentence when I saw a raptor suddenly fly into view. I grabbed my binoculars and Mel did the same. "Swainson's Hawk", he said almost nonchalantly. Cynthia and I viewed the bird with the enthusiasm of a child just handed a new toy. It was our first lifer of the trip.

Flushed with our success, we decided to celebrate by having dinner at a Korean Restaurant. We had a perfect bul-go-gi to end a perfect day.

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