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Southeast Arizona

5-11 August 2007

Part 1:  The Drive Out & Sweetwater Wetlands

Well, this trip started off with a bang in that I forgot the stupid power cord to the stupid computer!! But it was a good test: could I function without it?? I had enough data cards for the camera so I really didn’t have to download anything till I got home, and most motels have a public computer, so I could check e-mail (although the one in Tucson was terribly slow).

Anyway, got over there fine, padding the list with a couple of San Diego birds (Crow and Nuttall’s Woodpecker) and picking up Burrowing Owls going through the Imperial Valley (ironically I didn’t pick up Cattle Egret until the drive back).  After checking in I headed to Sweetwater Wetlands (thankfully the Prince Road exit was open; apparently the rest of them for the next ten miles aren’t), and cruised to the end of the road (since it was raining) enjoying my token Harris’ Hawk eating lunch. I sat in the car with the window down for a long time while it rained in fits and spurts; meanwhile another carload of birders wheeled in, doing the same thing! They finally got out (it was still spitting, so I waited), and when I ran into them again later they turned out to be a group from back east out here for the Southwest Wings Bird Festival! The one guy got 70-something lifers, so that was great! They were poring over a couple of shorebirds that we settled on Least: one was obvious, but one almost looked like a Baird’s, as it had dark legs. But when they both got together it was obvious that they were both Leasts (to the chagrin of the one guy who had to scratch "Baird’s" off his list; so did I…).

         

Sweetwater Wetlands, sewer ponds turned wildlife sanctuary!

The overcast skies actually made it pleasant; there were tons of what I was assuming were Mexican Ducks in the ponds, but they turned out to be eclipse-plumaged "Northern" Mallards (part of the confusion was the assumption that Northern Mallards weren't supposed to be there that time of year) with lesser numbers of Cinnamon Teal and a few Ruddies and Coots. A young Moorhen poked around, reminding me of the young Purple Gallinule that hung around years ago (and I never found), and picked up a few southeast Arizona specialty dickies, such as Gila Woodpecker, Abert’s Towhee, and Curve-billed Thrasher. Yellow Warblers were very cooperative, and had a Wood Duck and some stilts in the shallow holding ponds.

                   

"Northern" Mallards impersonating Mexican Ducks, and female Yellow Warblers 

Came back, fed Jip, made my idiotic discovery, and tried to answer a few e-mails on the lobby computer. My friend Mary Post was recovering from her hip surgery, so her husband Ed wasn’t able to join me the next day, but he said that Aztec Thrushes were apparently back, so I planned to keep an eye out for them.

Continue to Saguaro National Park & Madera Canyon

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