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ABA Convention 2005

Part 2: Patagonia Area

Next day was a work day, and I had a couple of visitors: Judy Pike made it up from Bisbee, and we met for breakfast! That was a great time, and she came over and hung around for awhile looking at artwork. She stuck around for lunch, and after she had to leave Ed and Mary Post showed up, so we had a good time catching up! They confirmed that this road up to an observatory was better for Black-capped Gnatcatcher, so upon confirming the directions with a local butterfly expert (who helped us identify a skipper we thought might have been a vagrant), we ("we" being the "old gang" joined by Charles and Alex) made plans to meet there the next morning, only the next morning we got word that the road was indeed closed, so we went to Patagonia Lake instead. Only I couldn’t get ahold of Ed and Mary (Cingular doesn’t work down there), so we ended up not connecting until I got back to the hotel!  I felt awful about that, but we just missed each other at Patton’s: we changed our minds about stopping there when we saw the Big Bus, and had our own hummingbird show at Sonoita Creek (complete with Violet-crowned)! But they were at Patton’s when the mob was there! Tough break…

But I’m getting ahead of myself again: I called Subaru again, and lo and behold, they were done: all it was was a screwy mixture in the coolant! So Barb took me over and we picked him up (cost me all of 45 bucks; here it would have been at least 100 I’m sure), and then she followed me back to the hotel.  So now being able to help with the driving I dutifully showed up the next morning, and the Sills decided to come with me while the rest of the crew fit in Radeaux’s van! We had a great time talking spiritual things! J But anyway, like I said, first stop was Patagonia Lake, where a stop at the bathrooms revealed a Tarantula hiding in Barb’s stall! She traded with Cathy, who then brought the hapless spider out for everyone to gawk at! We miraculously found parking at the trailhead, where we had a very loud and cooperative Northern Beardless Tyrannulet! We then trudged down the trail, picking up the usuals; the highlights included several Summer Tanagers, a Vermilion Flycatcher, a bold Yellow-breasted Chat incorporating a "mew" into his song that entertained everyone, and the phallax race of the Song Sparrow, which confused those who weren’t expecting such a pale bird! We did have a cormorant sitting out on a log, but I couldn’t tell if it was DC or Neotropic; a Spotted Sandpiper and Ruddy Duck were easier to identify, along with the female-type Mallard that was probably a Mexican Duck. But the best bird was totally unexpected: a male Rose-throated Becard that popped up! We climbed a wash and had a nice view of a Varied Bunting and a Broad-billed Hummer that had a Century Plant staked out, but couldn’t find the gnatcatcher (except for a Blue-gray). Ran into the ABA group several times (who had found a Bell’s Vireo on the nest), but we gave up and went back to the car (I went on ahead and missed the Black Hawk and Brown Pelicans they had found), and come to find out that the ABA group did find the thing after a lot of bush-beating and wash-climbing!  Some in our group were tempted to go back, but in the end we let it go and managed another pair of Zonies at the trailhead (that Charles had spotted as well as the Black Hawk; he was getting the reputation as the "Raptor Spotter" by the end of the day), and a young Pyrrhuloxia entertained everyone.


Cathy finds a Tarantula in the ladies’ room and rescues it while John looks on like the proud parent!


Doug observes the arachnid from a safe distance!  Lydia shoots a picture and then ponders while Alex Cruz takes his turn with the camera!



We finally tear ourselves away and head down the trail...


Looking for goodies in the clearing, including this Lesser Eared Lizard!


Clark Spiny Lizards


Left:  Desert Grassland Whiptail.  Right:  Eastern Fence Lizard


Left:  Bell’s Vireo on the nest.  Center:  Yellow-breasted Chat.  Right:  Male (left) and female Lesser Goldfinches


Doug leads us up a wash in search of Black-capped Gnatcatcher, but we find a Broad-billed Hummer (center) instead!  Right:  Dung Beetles


A young Pyrrhuloxia entertained everyone at the picnic area!

From there we headed on to the Roadside Rest, where some locals had the becard nest all staked out, and we got terrific looks at both the male and the female! We also had nice views of Gray Hawks soaring around (found by Charles, of course!). Lydia brought out her scope and I tried some digiscoping; I wasn’t too pleased with the results (you were kind of looking into bright light), but Lydia wanted a copy to experiment with, so we'll see what she does!  Alex had brought his nifty little watercolor pack and his "sketch book" and was busily painting the nest while all this was going on! A monsoon started thundering so we rapidly closed up shop; the becards never came back to the nest while we were there, and I was wondering if we were actually too close for comfort.


Female Rose-throated Becard in lousy light


Alex renders the becard’s nest (left, taken through Lydia’s scope) with his handy dandy little watercolor set!

Like I said, we skipped Patton’s, but had a show at Sonoita Creek (we laid low cuz a monsoon was acting up and we didn’t want to be walking around in the woods in a thunderstorm); in addition to the hummers had great looks at Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Say’s Phoebe, and Vermilion Flycatcher. When things calmed down we took a short walk in the woods, and had a warbler that stumped us all: it looked like an Orangecrown from underneath (that’s the only view I got), but its call note sounded like a junco! Alex suggested Black-throated Blue Warbler, and indeed the others got a glimpse of an eyestripe and the suggestion of an auricular patch, but none of us could make out any wing patch, and that caused most of us to be skeptical. However, a first year female may not show that patch very strongly (they found a picture back at the "shop" that matched their bird to a T), and when I told Jon Dunn about it, he confirmed that no other warbler makes that kind of a call note, so I’m hoping some local was interested enough to head out there and check it out! Meanwhile we had lots of Phainopeplas, Bewick’s Wrens, and even a cuckoo that flew over! 

Came back, went to a Mexican restaurant with the gang, then came home and crashed.


We camp out at Sonoita Creek Preserve, which turns out to have a hummer show rivaling the Pattons’!  Center and right:  Broad-billed Hummers (young male left, adult male right)


Female Broadbills with Violet-crowned in back


Violet-crowned Hummers (all females, I think…)


The lady VC decides it’s time to leave when the lady BB comes in!


Left:  We tear ourselves away long enough to hike a little bit of the trail before we have to leave!  Right:  Charles grabs a quick snack back at the cars

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