October 28, 2009

SE Arizona (birds)

October 28 – Sarah and I flew into Phoenix, AZ on October 25 in the evening. The next morning we got up early and drove down to Tucson where we met our hosts/guides Sky and Anne Hilts. When we arrived at their house one of the first birds we saw in their backyard was a COSTA'S HUMMINGBIRD (Life Bird) as well as many Phainopeplas and GILA WOODPECKERS (Life Bird) along the road and nice looks at a male Western Screech-Owl in their carport. The four of us got back in the car and drove down to Tumacacori to look for a reported Rufous-backed Robin. We stayed for about two hours with no luck but it was the middle of the afternoon and traffic was fairly heavy along the lane. I had brief looks at a probable Plumbeous Vireo, a possible Crissal Thrasher and a tentative Brewer's Sparrow but all of them were very difficult to see through the dense brush and I decided not to count them. A Townsend's Solitaire was a nice surprise though. Next we drove over to Patagonia to visit The Patton's yard and look for hummingbirds. We eventually found one male Anna's Hummingbird as well as a few Inca Doves, a beautiful male PYRRHULOXIA, a flock of GAMBLE'S QUAIL (Life Bird) and a BRIDLED TITMOUSE (Life Bird). There was also a RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER (Life Bird) in the area. At dusk we made another stop back at Santa Gertrudis in Tumacacori. We walked down to the Santa Cruz river and I noticed a small quail moving towards us. It was a female MONTEZUMA QUAIL (Life Bird)! The bird wasn't very shy; walked right up and crossed the road. Even got some decent photos. On our way out we saw and heard a second bird. What a sad sounding call. We all thought that was a fantastic end to our day. Up early again on October 27... had a VERDIN (Life Bird) and better looks at the Costa's Hummingbird in the Hilts backyard before heading off to Madera Canyon. Sarah and I hiked from Proctor Road up to the Santa Rita Lodge. We had lots of great birds along the way. Highlights were a very cooperative and totally stunning PAINTED REDSTART (Life Bird), many MEXICAN JAYS (Life Bird), Sarah's long-overdue first Acorn Woodpecker and flock of roughly eight more MONTEZUMA QUAIL! After a picnic lunch we stopped by Madera Kubo to watch the hummingbird feeders. Almost as soon as we got out of the car we saw our first MAGNIFICENT HUMMINGBIRD (Life Bird). We stayed for over an hour and saw many Mags, several female Anna's, a possible Blue-throated and at least one BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD (Life Bird) as well as lots of Bridled Titmice, a surprise CANYON WREN and a friendly ARIZONA WOODPECKER (Life Bird). We left Madera Canyon mid-afternoon and drove across the valley to Mount Lemmon. It was very windy and birding was a little slow but it was a beautiful night and we had a great time seeing all the different life zones. Pygmy Nuthatches and White-throated Swifts are always a blast and near the very top we finally found a couple YELLOW-EYED JUNCOS (Life Bird) mixed in with the red-backed Dark-eyed Juncos (which was a new subspecies for me as well). This morning we left Tucson and drove to Phoenix where we met up with Noah. Along the way we made a brief stop at Picachu Peak where we had a Rock Wren hoping around in the parking lot and at least one or two BLACK-THROATED SPARROWS (Life Bird) out in the desert. The trip's off to a great start! My year list is currently 443.

Montezuma Quailcheck out that back pattern!Painted RedstartCosta's HummingbirdMagnificent HummingbirdWestern Screech-Owl