31 July 2015

A Change of Scenery: Moving my Birding to Arizona

I stopped for one last picture at a locally well-known spot on my last drive out of Cache Valley.

My wife and I have been looking to relocate for a while now, and I'm pleased to announce that we have now officially and completely moved to Arizona!  The southwestern states have always been high on our list of target destinations, so we're both pretty pleased with our new home.  Stephanie moved down about a month ago, and I joined her earlier this week.  

The Grand Canyon State welcomed me!

It feels odd to put a period at the end of my Utah, and especially Cache County, birding.  I've always been interested in birds, but Utah was where my birding activity really took off.  I've left Utah now with 3343 eBird checklists, reporting on 344 species.  I really focussed my birding in Cache County, and 2958 of those checklists and 281 species were from within my home county.  I'm particularly proud of my yard list: my 805 checklists have created a very thorough overview of the seasonal occurrence of the 98 species I've seen or heard from my yard.

This is just a sample of the comprehensive eBird data I've collected from my Logan, Utah yard.
It's not just about the numbers, of course.  I'm going to really miss the birding community in Cache County.  As a college town, it seemed good birders were always coming and going, but I made a lot of close friends along the way.  Thankfully, since I moved to a birding hotspot, I'm sure it will be easy to convince them to come visit me!

Whenever a rare bird was spotted in Cache Valley, I knew I'd soon see a lot of friendly faces there!
When one door closes, another opens, and so this week I've started birding Arizona as a resident, rather than just a visitor.  I've visited here many times, either on vacation, doing field work for my PhD, or helping colleagues with their field work.  I already know many of the hotspots in the area, at least by reputation if not by first-hand experience.  I'm living in Tempe, which isn't quite as famous for birding as the Tucson area, but it's within striking distance, and there are plenty of exciting birds here, too.  I've got 19 species on the yard list so far, and of those, 9 are species I've never had on a yard list before.  Last night, I birded the Gilbert Water Ranch for the first time, a famous birding spot that is perhaps best known for hosting a Baikal Teal a couple of winters ago.  It was great to start to get familiar with the locally common species that still feel exotic to me, like White-winged Dove, Lucy's Warbler, and Verdin, for example.  A move to a new state is almost a fresh start in birding, and I'm excited for all that I have yet to learn!

This cool duck is an apparent hybrid between a Wood Duck and a domestic form of Mallard.  It has been at the Gilbert Water Ranch for a while now.  Although it's not a "countable" bird, it looked beautiful and interesting, and seemed like a good symbol of all the new species and places I will soon be exploring in central and southern Arizona.


Andrew Durso said...

Ryan, you'll be missed in Cache County. Enjoy AZ and we'll see you down there!

Sean Fitzgerald said...

Welcome to the east valley Ryan. Saw your eBird checklist from GWR and glad to see some others willing to brave the heat for some quality shorebirding! I live in Gilbert, so I'm sure I'll bump into you soon around here. That hybrid WODU x MALL is a cool bird, its been by that fishing pond most visits since I moved down here last fall.
Hope to see you in the field soon!