I'm in AZ visiting CB at the moment. When I left CO, it was snowing such that the roads were slushy, visibility was poor, and the plane had to be de-iced before we left. Nothing out of the ordinary for this time of the year, but damp and cold. In AZ it was warm and sunny. It never fails to amaze me how a 90 minute plane ride can take a person into such a different environment.
As always, it's good to be with my guy again. The 2-3 days before a visit I get a little cranky, where the combination of getting ready to go (stopping paper and milk deliveries, boarding Sally) and not having seen CB take their toll. But that evaporates after we are together for a little while.
I enjoyed birding before I met CB, but hanging with a really really good birder is a whole different experience. I have found there are two sides to this coin. On the one hand, I don't have to work very hard at identification if I don't want to, because CB can identify everything. On the other hand, I don't have to work very hard at identification, but if I don't, I don't get any better at it on my own. And for his part, since he does this for a living, it's natural for CB to just say what the bird is. This makes the bird not "count" as much because I didn't ID it myself. What works, we have found, is my saying, "don't tell me!" And then trying to figure it out (always with help, it seems). I have learned a ton already, but there is a lot more to learn.
We went out birding yesterday, to a place called Madera Canyon. It's at about 5000 feet, so it's a little cooler than the surrounding desert, and the weather yesterday was just perfect. There has been a Flame-colored Tanager there, which is rare, but this one has come back to this very spot for the last few years. Wacky. The picture is of that very bird, and as usual, a photo doesn't do justice to the deep orange color of the bird. We also saw a Painted Redstart, Bridled Titmouse, and Broad-billed, Broad-tailed, Anna's and Black-chinned Hummingbirds.
It's for times like these that I work my job and do the other stuff that feels like stuff I HAVE to do.
image from http://fireflyforest.net/