The 400 bird Quest

Jim is attempting to find and identify 400 species of birds in the USA in 2018.  In my 4+ decades of birding I have identified 414 different species of birds in the wild.    This year I hope to discover some new species for the first time (lifers) but at the same time rack up 400 total species for the year.  Yep, that is a thing. Sort of like the movie "The Big Year" but without going too far out of the way,  from plans already made.

101/400

We are nine days into the year and on a vacation to Arizona.  I casually found 48 species of common birds in the first 7 days this year.  Yesterday and today we kicked into high gear,  Life long friend and bird expert Tom joined me in the Tuscon area.  We made a visit to Gilbert Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch east of Phoenix.  Then on to Sweetwater Wetlands near Tucson. These are both sewage treatment facilities turned into parks.  It's not what you think.  They are beautiful odorless green parks loaded with birds.  We chalked up many local birds plus a couple local rarities:  Northern Parula, and Greater Scaup.  Anna's Hummingbirds were buzzing everywhere, as we walked, laughed and searched.

Today Tom's bother Bruce, a true adventurer, joined us. We made a second visit to Sweetwater Wetlands followed by a trip to the top of 9100 ft Mount Lemmon east of Tucson.   Highlights included a Steller's Jay, one bright male Vermilion Flycatcher, a flock of Cassin's Finchs (lifer!), and a Black and White warbler (rare for AZ).  Great birds and great company.  

That brings the total to 101.  It is a good start, but of course the first birds are the easy ones.  Each species only gets counted once so each new species it harder to find.

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Great Egret - photo by Jim Hughes