Sunday, June 1, 2014

May 31 (Day 151) - Moving day, Strategy for Gray Vireo and Rosy-faced lovebird

Gray vireo is weighing heavily on me at the moment. This is a bird that is found only very locally during the summer months in the Four Corners regions of AZ, NM, UT, and CO. They are generally found in juniper rich mid-elevation areas, and their habitat overlaps with two other, slightly more common birds I need to find, Juniper titmouse and Black-chinned sparrow. My goal for the next week is to nail down the vireo and hopefully find the other two birds in the process. I am still sorting out exactly the best strategy to do this. I know that Gray vireo has been consistently observed around Globe, AZ about 50 miles east of Phoenix. This would represent a bit of a detour east, but I might have to do this to find this bird down. It has also been seen in the mountains north of Phoenix, but there is no lodging near the biggest cluster of recent sightings. The point is that I am going to have to make some important decisions and do some difficult riding in order to tick this bird.

Today I biked to Casa Grande, and tomorrow I will head into Phoenix. From there I can exercise either the northern or eastern option to find Gray vireo. This trip into Phoenix will also give me the chance to grab Rosy-faced lovebird, a species that has been introduced to the city and is now ABA-countable. It is going to be hotter than hell in Phoenix tomorrow (107F), but as it is a Sunday it means the city should be quiet. This should make it easy for me to get in, get the lovebird, and then get out. Many have suggested that I pass on the lovebird and instead collect it on my second pass through Arizona in November as I head back to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas. I have made a living this year going through major metropolitan areas on weekends (New York, Houston etc), and this strategy works incredibly well. The days fall perfectly right now, and I have no idea if this will happen when I pass back through here in November. Second, grabbing this bird tomorrow unchains me Interstate 10 on the return trip; I can stay further south and take a more direct route from the Salton Sea to Tucson on Interstate 8.

85 miles to where I am staying + 3 to DQ 
Those 85 miles were done in 5.5 hours!
I wanted to continue to Phoenix today, 
but it was just too damn hot.

Actually, the ride to DQ was done on my host's beach cruiser. The steering challenges it presented compared to my touring bike were far offset by a really wide, cushy seat that appropriately cushioned my tired backside after a long ride.

They see me rollin', they hatin'........
(this quote is for hip hop aficionados - 
big props to anyone who knows the rapper)

Lastly, here is an oddity from last night. It turns out that scorpions glow bright yellow when you shine a black-light on them. Here's one that we found while we rooted around the house for them last night! 


  1. Chamillionaire! Thanks for such an entertaining and inspirational blog. I am off in a moment to go biking for birds myself. "They see me ridin', they laffin' . . ."

  2. I think the scorpion looks blue in the black light! Also, I'm sure you're not forgetting altitude when you're thinking about elevation gain! Climbing 2000 feet from 6000 feet asl will almost surely feel harder than 2000 feet from 500 asl.

  3. Dorian - have you looked at Beeline Highway near Payson? This is where I got my GRVI last year - very easily. There's a bunch of sightings there. I saw mine less than half a mile after exiting north from Hwy 87 onto Beeline. It's a good place for Common Black Hawks and Zone-taileds too.

  4. Dorian. Last year in December during my Big Year (Jaysbigyear2013) I had Gray Vireo on South Mountain on Elephant Pass Trail. This is south of Phoenix and west of I-10 about10-20 miles. This location may have also been a breeding location which can be verified in ebird. For more; details about my sighting, see my blog.

    1. Dorian, It is Telegraph Pass Trail along which there are elephant trees a food source for Gray Vireo. Sorry for the confusion.