When I added the No.1 "Most Wanted" to my list this summer, I dug out the old issue to see how I was doing with the other nine on the list. Not too badly, as it turned out.
Here's the list, and how I have fared. Some sightings were pre-photography, so I have turned to John James Audubon for illustrations when possible.
1. California Condor - Navaho Bridge, US 89A, Marble Canyon, AZ - July 13, 2014
From the middle of the bridge, we looked down into the canyon of the Colorado River where two of this birds were resting and preening. On this day, the largest flying bird in North America chose not to fly, but provided a leisurely opportunity to view them. A naturalist provided biographical information on the two ladies. Unattached males take note: the lovely lady sporting the #28 is available and open to a proposition.
|California Condor - 7 year old female, mated|
|California Condor - 5 year old female - unattached and available|
The view was a distant one, so while this species is checked on my list, a much better look is still desired.
(Painting by J.J. Audubon)
3. Elf Owl
I have never crossed paths with the world's smallest owl. Apparently, neither did Audubon. He did a painting with five owls, one of which was called "Little Owl," but there is no agreement as to the species he intended.
The Gyrfalcon spent most of the winter on Plum Island and attracted chasers from all over North America. For at least one additional year, a Gyrfalcon (probably the same one) hung out on a building in Boston, likewise drawing much attention. I went with a neighbor. Our sightings on Plum Island were through a scope, but close enough to view the powerful flight that makes the bird such an effective predator.
(Painting by J.J.Audubon)
5. Atlantic Puffin - Machias Seal Island, Canada - June, 1988 from Grand Manan Island; June, 2009 from Jonesport, ME; June, 2013 from Cutler, ME.
Plans to visit Grand Manan Island have to be made in advance, and if the weather takes a turn, they can be canceled on short notice. Access to the island is limited and carefully controlled, but in no way does that impede a marvelous, up-close experience with these charming birds.