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Southeast Arizona, August 2002

Part 6:  Chiricahua National Monument

Broke with tradition the next day (actually, I just got smart) and birded the road through Ft. Bowie NHS first before it got hot, then did Chiricahua National Monument! Starting at sunrise, it still got me finished around noon (which was just as well, as the thunderheads rolled in early today), but it was a good choice: picked up a Roadrunner and some tiny-looking Chihuahuan Ravens going in, and the Ft. Bowie road itself was full of Cactus Wrens and Black-throated and Rufous-crowned Sparrows. At the trailhead itself had some Scrub Jays, and a little further along were several pinyons (trees, not jays), where I picked up a Chipping Sparrow and a singing Scott's Oriole. Getting back into the desert scrub a Crissal Thrasher went tearing across the road and posed nicely (for a nanosecond, anyway)! Dipping down into the yucca-strewn grassland added Lark Sparrow, Canyon Towhee, and Eastern Meadowlark.

Headed into the National Monument in good time, hiking the Bonita Creek loop first. Canyon Wrens were all over the place (both here and throughout the park), and a family of Wood Pewees said hello (found a cup nest nearby, but I'm not sure if that was theirs). A family of Bewick's Wrens came in at the resting spot.

At the Fire & Flood Trail at the Visitor's Center, had a nice walk through the woods with the usual Bridled Titmice, Mexican Jays, a singing Painted Redstart, a chupping Hepatic Tanager, and a glimpse of an Arizona Woodpecker. Up at the top, the Sugarloaf Trail was closed due to fallen rock, so I just sat for five, picking up another singing Mexican Chickadee, and another fly-by Band-tailed Pigeon! Judy and I had gotten a Zone-tailed Hawk here one year, so I was thinking about that down at Echo Canyon, when a squeal overhead revealed (guess what) a soaring Zone-tailed Hawk! I couldn't believe it! Was I glad to get that guy!

           

L-R:  Dusky-capped Flycatcher, yet another Mexican Jay, and Zone-tailed Hawk.  Right:  View from Sugarloaf Trail

Got the expected workout (and knockout view) at Massai Point Nature Trail, where I picked up a calling Rock Wren for the trip in addition to more Canyons and distant Spotted Towhees. Stopping at the pullouts on the way down for five only added a curious female Black-throated Gray Warbler; it was pretty quiet along the creek. Same at Faraway Ranch: picked up the Acorn Woodpeckers around the buildings, but that was about it, and seeing as it was thundering already, I didn't stick around long.

   

Views from Massai Trail

                               

Left:  Lizard sp. (probably Western Fence).  Right:  View from one of the pullouts with obliging Turkey Vulture...

   

Scenes at Faraway Ranch with Mule Deer

   

Trail along Bonita Creek

        

Left and center:  Black-throated Gray Warblers.  Right:  Sonoran Spotted Whiptail

My friend Marjorie Hastings had forwarded a post from the Arizona listserve about a family of Mississippi Kites in St. David, so since that was right on the way to Tucson I decided to swing by. I had no idea where to look for these birds except that they were near St. David and right off highway 80, and that in late afternoon they liked to feed over the agricultural fields. Well, being mid-day I was just hoping for an act of God to see these things; about three-tenths of a mile past the San Pedro River bridge (this is going south on 80) I pulled over to let some yahoo get by me, and decided that since I was stopped anyway, might as well get out and look. Well, a youngster decided to fly right over me just about then, followed by one of the adults, and then both caught a thermal and gave great looks! What a show!

   

Mississippi Kites in St. David (the southernmost nesting record in the state)

Headed on in to Tucson after that, picking up yet another Zone-tailed Hawk on the fly while I was making a dry run from Mount Lemmon to the hotel for timing purposes.

Continue to Mount Lemmon

Go back to Cave Creek

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