Thursday, 7 August 2014

Last day in southeast Arizona

Southeast Arizona had been very kind to me, and with it being my last full day before I started to head north, I was in a position of being able to target a few species that I'd yet to see - namely Gilded Flicker, Lucifer and White-eared Hummingbirds, Rufous-capped Warbler and Grasshopper Sparrow.

And so I started off in Green Valley shortly after dawn where just to the west of the I-19 (the turnoff to Madera Canyon), some gardens with ornamental Saguaro cacti provided some easy views of a Gilded Flicker. This place was a living cemetery, and as Rich will confess, the look on my face when I walked into the golden arches at 6.30am was a picture - literally tens of 70+ people just sitting about eating their Sausage & Egg McMuffins. Anyway, to the birds...

Rufous-capped Warbler, Florida Canyon
And it was back to Florida Canyon, a site I'd visited in the dead of the afternoon a few days previously. Walking up the canyon, with views of another couple of Black-capped Gnatcatchers, I got in position for where the Rufous-capped Warblers were being regularly seen. Rich said they'd be easy enough but, after over 3 hot hours in the canyon, one eventually played ball and started singing. This Mexican species is now a regular breeder in this canyon - with perhaps up to 4 singing birds this year - and seems to be the best place in the ABA region to regularly see this species currently. Broad-billed Hummingbirds darted about, and a Blue Grosbeak was busy attending to its nest.
Grasshopper Sparrow, Las Cienegas
With the warbler finally seen, Las Cienegas grasslands was the next port of call (after the best burrito of the trip). This steppe-like area was ripe for sparrows - Botteri's, Cassin's and of course some really nice, fairly diminutive Grasshopper Sparrows. A really showy Pronghorn, of the endangered Sonoran race sonoriensis, was quality too.

Pronghorn, Las Cienegas
And then it was back to Miller Canyon, with White-eared Hummingbird and better views of Spotted Owl in mind. Luck was with us, and at Beatty's hummingbird feeders the White-eared Hummingbird showed well alongside a host of other hummers - Calliope, Anna's, Black-chinned, Anna's, Magnificent, Broad-tailed and Broad-billed. Mega stuff!
White-eared Hummingbird, Beatty's Ranch
The two young Mexican Spotted Owls were pretty inquisitive up the canyon too: -
Mexican Spotted Owl(et), Miller Canyon
And with an hour or so of light left, we headed to Ash Canyon and the feeders at the lovely Mary Jo's - complete with her African Grey Parrots. This was good timing as a Lucifer Hummingbird (as well as a Lucifer x Costa's Hummingbird) had been coming into the feeders late on in the day; and tonight there wasn't to be any disappointment with firstly the hybrid, and then just before dusk, the Lucifer fed itself up in the twilight.

So, with just a couple of hours sleep (as Rich was doing some guiding for the Tucson Audubon Society) I said my farewells and immense thanks - and headed to the infamous Patagonia Rest Stop where a pair of Thick-billed Kingbirds were lurking in the early morning gloom. These were the last birds of any note I saw in southeast Arizona, an area of immense birding potential and varied landscape. Now  it was just a small drive to that saline spot in southeastern California...
Thick-billed Kingbird, Patagonia Rest Stop

1 comment:

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