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Southeast Arizona 2004

Part 4: San Pedro and the Huachucas

Met birding buddy Judy Pike from Bisbee at Denny’s at five and exchanged gifts, had a great breakfast, and headed out to San Pedro! The Gila Woodpeckers were attacking the hummer feeders already, and a couple of Swainson’s Hawks had a couple of yuccas staked out (I thought the one was a young Gray Hawk, as again the whistling sounded like one, but the fact that young hawks all whistle and an adult Swainson’s was nearby helped me abandon that idea, plus the fact that Grays tend to stick to the cottonwoods, as Judy pointed out). Several Lazuli Buntings bounced around in the grass with lots of Blue Grosbeaks. At the river, the trail closest to the bank was passable, so we took that, but even early in the morning it was rather quiet—we had a few Abert’s Towhees, Song Sparrows, and Yellow Warblers singing, and we actually saw a chat before hearing one! But the banders, led by Jack Whetstone, had shown up, and we ran into them near Kingfisher Pond. We were watching the pond when someone yelled, "We caught a cuckoo!" So we ran over ourselves and enjoyed close-up looks at this stunning guy!


Birding buddy Judy Pike (in the sunglasses) watches as Jack Whetstone bands a Yellow-billed Cuckoo at San Pedro Riparian Area.  Several tools are used to measure every part of the bird!


Close-up look at a Yellow-billed Cuckoo

We headed on around the pond after that, hearing a Tropical Kingbird singing, but I almost barreled right past a Green Kingfisher! Fortunately Judy spotted him (actually, her), who was very close to shore and allowed terrific shots!


Green Kingfisher, an ABA first for me! (All the others had been on the wrong side of the Rio Grande...)

We figured stuff would be anti-climactic after that, but at Ramsey had a good display of hummers while the docent spoke to the crowd. When we heard hints that the "bird walk" would be starting soon we headed on up the trail and picked up Black-throated Gray Warbler and Painted Redstart. We ran into a guy with a camera who told us about a deer, and suddenly, there she was, not a bit afraid of us! In fact, she walked right up to me despite the flashing camera, sauntered past, and began nibbling at the trail! At the pond we were enjoying a Robin at our feet when some Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers started making a racket, so we went up to find them, and while we were enjoying them, this hummer chattered by and stopped right in front of us—it was the Beryline! He flew over to a close branch and gave excellent views before taking off! We gleefully told the people at the feeders about it!


Black-chinned Hummers (young male at right)


Our common backyard Anna's Hummingbird migrates through Arizona


Birding buddy Judy Pike reluctantly poses on the nature trail at Ramsey Canyon!  A local White-tailed Deer does the same...


(She wasn't shy at all--in fact, the left-hand shot was taken as she strolled by just inches away!)  Right:  Robin at the frog pond

We figured it couldn’t get better than that, but we headed up Carr Canyon, which was pretty quiet by now. But there were lots of Spotted Towhees around, and at one stop we heard a sharp pit that had to be the Buff-breasted Flycatcher (I know I was somewhat cheating because I wasn’t familiar enough with the bird to be 100% sure, but it sounded just like the recordings and I don’t know what else it would have been). We also had an Olive-sided Flycatcher pose briefly, along with lots of Western Wood Pewees. Up at the first campground we finally got the Yellow-eyed Junco and heard Grace’s Warbler, and a young Hermit Thrush bounced along the ground.. Another stop added Steller’s Jay and both Plumbeous and Warbling Vireos, but by the far campground things had really quieted down. We headed back, adding Bushtits to the list. Scrubbies on the way up and Mexicans on the way down gave us a jay sweep!


Scenes going up the dicey Carr Canyon road (note the switchback in right-hand photo)!


Views of Sierra Vista; can you spot the Aerostat in the left-hand shot? (...used for surveillance against drug/people smuggling...)

Sat at Beatty’s for awhile when Tom himself sent us up to the "special blind", where the White-eared Hummer had been coming in. Sure enough, shortly after we arrived so did the White-eared, along with lots of Broadtails and a token Mag and Bluethroat (Anna’s and Rufous had been down below), so that was great fun! We made a quick stop at the Ash Canyon B&B where we enjoyed the seed feeders and had an almost black-backed Lesser Goldfinch!


The upper feeders at Beatty's tended to attract the rarer hummingbirds, like the White-eared Hummingbird (left) and the Broad-tailed Hummingbird (right).


"Hey, let us have some!" (Lesser Goldfinches and House Finch at the "drinking fountain" at Ash Canyon...)


Left:  Curve-billed Thrasher.  Right:  Broad-billed Hummingbird.


"Black-backed" Goldfinches are usually only found in Texas, so this intermediate individual was interesting!

Judy’s family obligations and a monsoon bearing down on us bid that we call it quits, so I dropped her off in Sierra Vista while I raced ahead of the storm to Willcox, where I made a quick run around Twin Lakes (click on "C4" on the map), adding a ton of water birds, including a few "casual" species such as Lesser Scaup, Eared Grebe, and California Gull! There were lots of Wilson’s Phalaropes and juvenile Western Sandpipers to study, making sure none of them were Semipals (I risked being a human lightning rod by pulling the scope out to digiscope). I did have a Semipalmated Plover, however, which, if I remember correctly from the last time, was rather unusual. Also had a Black Tern batting around, as well as several White-faced Ibis, a few Long-billed Dowitchers, and lots of Avocets and stilts.

Came back to check in, had a nice dinner, and crashed.

Birds at Twin (Cochise) Lakes, Willcox:


Left:  Juvenile Killdeer.  Center and right:  Semipalmated Plover


L-R:  Female Lesser Scaup, juvenile Great Blue Heron, juvenile Western Sandpiper

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