Monday, April 20, 2009

Back from the Desert

Yesterday I returned from a five day trip to Tucson, Arizona where I attended the Cooper Ornithological Society meetings. I reconnected with many friends and colleagues, found some great birds, and gained a bit of speaking practice.

I flew into Tucson Wednesday afternoon, grabbed my rental car, and drove up to Molino Basin in the Santa Catalina Mountains.

I drove through saguaro cactus stands and found a nice riparian woodland full of migrating warblers and broad-billed hummingbirds.

While in Tucson, I stayed with my friends TJ and Karie. Their house is surrounded by some nice desert scrubland full of chollas, barrel cacti, and saguaros.

The next morning I woke early to attend the Western Hummingbird Project's symposium and workshop.

I learned a lot about hummingbird biology at the talks and we broke into groups to discuss research and management needs for this much-understudied family of birds.

On Friday, I woke even earlier and birded the Sweetwater Treatment Plant Wetlands.

With a great mix of wetland, riparian, and desert scrub habitat, I racked up dozens of bird species, including the resident Harris's hawk above.

The Santa Cruz River passes near the wetlands. Most of the stream bed is dry, but effluent from the plant is discharged in one location, creating some streamflow and riparian vegetation. The mesquite, willow, and cottonwood trees lining the effluent flow were full of migratory birds as well.

On Saturday I gave talks at two symposia, one focusing on climate change and another on wildfire. I have been working on these presentations for months and now that they are finished, I will take a day or two off from bird biology, then start on my next projects.

Yesterday I helped with some hummingbird monitoring at Sabino Canyon before flying back to Portland. More on that later.

1 comment:

Kathiesbirds said...

Wow, you were in my stomping grounds! Sounds like you had fun and a lot of work. I hope your presentations were well received. I do the Sabino Canyon IBA survey transect with Tucson Audubon. The hummingbird monitoring station is on our transect. I have never been to Molino Basin. I will have to check it out! Nice series of photos.