Journal - September, 2002
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This log is in chronological order and the most recent entries
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The last update was on Saturday, September 28, 2002
Monday, September 2, 2002
First of an undetermined number of days with Stephen and Ann Williams from Houston, TX, who I last birded with for two days back in September, 1999. On this trip we'll be birding for a couple of days in southeast Arizona followed by several days in the White Mountains.
Today I made what might well be my last trip of the "sparrow season" to California Gulch. Although we left Sierra Vista at 3:30am, circumstances conspired against us to make the trip to the south end of the gulch take almost 5 hours instead of the more typical 3.5. With daylight approaching, we just managed to pick up COMMON POORWILL (4 birds) with one seen reasonable well sitting on the road.
It was almost 8:30am when we arrived at the south end of the gulch to be greeted by an adult GRAY GAWK that was none too pleased to see us. BELL'S VIREO'S are still singing their heads off and VARIED BUNTINGS and HOODED ORIOLES were easy to see on the walk in. As might be expected, FIVE-STRIPED SPARROWS were just a tad harder to find today than they are in July or August. It's been my experience that they become very difficult to find as September wears on and I consider the sparrow season as running from late April to early September. We found two birds perched up mid bush carrying food (most likely to fledged young), one of which sang for quite a long period from a low, concealed perch.
ZONE-TAILED HAWK is a bird that I haven't been seeing in the gulch this year, probably because I'm usually in and out before they are soaring. Today's later visit produced a lone bird in with the many TURKEY VULTURES. Among the other species recorded were GREATER ROADRUNNER, GILA & LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKERS, ASH-THROATED & VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD (I'm pretty sure they nested here this year, since I've seen them on almost all visits), BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, NASHVILLE and WILSON'S WARBLERS, WESTERN TANAGER and many singing BLUE GROSBEAKS.
On the way home we made a brief stop at Peņa Blanca Lake, birding only along the road to the boat launch. Migrants seen were SPOTTED SANDPIPER, my SE AZ season first BELTED KINGFISHER (some years I see them in early August), WARBLING VIREO, ORANGE-CROWNED, NASHVILLE and WILSON'S WARBLERS and LAZULI BUNTING.
Tuesday, September 3, 2002
Out again today with Stephen and Ann looking for a couple of migrants. It's never an easy task to find target migrants, but our visits to the San Pedro River and Garden Canyon were successful and produced both Hammond's and Pacific-Slope Flycatchers.
We spent about four hours on the San Pedro (Highway 90 area) and after a quiet start we managed to turn up 56 species. We found a PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER where Garden wash meets the river after about 2 1/2 hours of birding. Empids were definitely hard to come by and we saw only two others -- a calling DUSKY FLYCATCHER along the river; and a WILLOW FLYCATCHER near Kingfisher Pond, surprisingly singing its very distinctive fitz-bew song. I don't remember hearing them sing in migration before. However, since I haven't checked this area for several months, it's possible that the bird nested here.
Other migrants/wintering species were CINNAMON TEAL, RUFOUS-HUMMINGBIRD, CASSIN'S, PLUMBEOUS & WARBLING VIREOS, TREE SWALLOW, WILSON'S & MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLERS, WESTERN TANAGER and LAZULI & INDIGO BUNTINGS. The Indigo might have been a hybrid Indigo-Lazuli.
Among the permanent and summer residents were GRAY HAWK, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO (carrying food, so presumably still feeding young), BELL'S VIREO, LUCY'S & YELLOW WARBLERS, YELLOW BREASTED CHAT, a singing BOTTERI'S SPARROWS perched atop a mesquite right next to us, lots of ABERT'S TOWHEES (everywhere), SUMMER TANAGER, BLUE & BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAKS and BULLOCK'S ORIOLE.
In Garden Canyon we found a very uncooperative HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER, exactly where I saw one a few days ago. However, the bird simply would not sit still for us!
At the Upper Picnic Area we found a small mixed flock that was very active just before some short-lived rain began. We had great close up looks at a male ARIZONA WOODPECKER as a PAINTED REDSTART foraged nearby; along with HUTTON'S VIREO, lots of BRIDLED TITMICE and BLACK-THROATED GRAY & WILSON'S WARBLERS.
Wednesday, September 4, 2002
Out again with Stephen and Ann on what was mostly a travel day. Over the next few days we'll be looking for several target birds in the White Mountains; after that I'll be staying on in the mountains, mainly to do some research work looking for migrants -- this is my rescheduled trip from a couple of weeks ago.
We stopped at Willcox on the way north and were easily able to pick up another target bird in RED-NECKED PHALAROPE without having to scan the many hundreds of WILSON'S PHALAROPES. Several birds were close to the shore and immediately obvious. Although shorebirds continue to diminish in numbers and diversity, we had a fair selection today with WHITE-FACED IBIS, AMERICAN AVOCET, BLACK-NECKED STILT, LONG and SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, LEAST, WESTERN, BAIRD'S and STILT SANDPIPERS, SNOWY PLOVER and FRANKLIN'S GULL. The plover was probably a juvenile based on "gut feel and general appearance" rather than any obvious plumage features. Interestingly, my only other Snowy Plover seen in September in Arizona was also a juvenile and also at Willcox, in September 1994.
Our main targets further north are Blue Grouse, Three-toed Woodpecker, Pinyon Jay, Gray Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, American Dipper, Mountain Bluebird and Red Crossbill. We picked up one and almost two of them even before we arrived in the White Mountains.
During a roadside stop along highway 180 near Saliz Pass in New Mexico, we saw a small group of PINYON JAYS and managed a scope look at a perched bird. A little further north near the town of Luna we almost added CLARK'S NUTCRACKER -- but a lone, calling bird disappeared behind a ridge with only me having seen it.
I've mentioned before how I always seem to time my arrival at Luna Lake to coincide with rain. Today, the area was surrounded by rain clouds and some rolling thunder but we managed to escape with only a few sprinkles. Highlights of an hour of birding at the lake were three BALD EAGLES (two perched adults and a flying immature) and the continuing alpine subspecies of BROWN PELICAN.
A brief stop at Nelson Reservoir (where the water level is very low) to look for Virginia Rail produced a SORA instead. A couple of BLACK TERNS were working over the water and PINYON JAYS and a TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE were calling from the eastern slopes.
Thursday, September 5, 2002
Day 4 with Stephen and Ann was a tough day in one respect because we put in a lot of time for Three-toed Woodpecker without any reward. However, on the plus side we did see four target birds (American Dipper, Mountain Bluebird, Gray Jay and Clark's Nutcracker); got a better view of Hammond's Flycatcher than we had a couple of days ago; and saw some decent birds for good measure, notably 9 species of warblers. It was a reasonable weather day in the White Mountains -- quite cool to start, never too warm, and just a few sprinkles to worry about even though there was plenty of thunderstorm activity at high elevation.
We began along the West Fork of the little Colorado in Greer where it took all of 30 seconds to find a very cooperative AMERICAN DIPPER. The bird put on quite a show for us at very close range. We then spent an hour looking in vain for Three-toed Woodpecker, although our time went well rewarded with a nice mixed flock containing several warblers including ORANGE-CROWNED, NASHVILLE, YELLOW-RUMPED, TOWNSEND'S, HERMIT and MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLERS, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, WESTERN TANAGER, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAKS and the usual KINGLETS (both species) and MOUNTAIN CHICKADEES.
In town, near Greer Lodge, we added a fly by OSPREY, RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, a lone and surprisingly silent CLARK'S NUTCRACKER that we could have used a longer look at, and lots of PINE SISKINS including young birds still being fed.
Heading over to Sunrise along highway 260 we stopped to admire a flock of 30 or so MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS in a regular spot. So far so good, 3 target birds seen and it was only a little after 9:00am.
At Sunrise Campground we had some early success when we happened upon 3 GRAY JAYS, never an easy bird to find in the White Mountains, although the campground is probably the most reliable spot. However, since almost all of the Labor Day campers had left, I think we were fortunate to find them. The rot set in after this an we spent the next two hours looking in vain for Three-toed. I spotted a woodpecker that immediately took off before I could identify it -- the only woodpecker we turned up.
After lunch we spent some more time in Greer, again looking unsuccessfully for Three-toed. A nice surprise for me though was a CASSIN'S VIREO in Ralph C. Hoyer campground, my first in the White Mountains and my 200th White Mountain bird. We checked Greer Lodge again hoping for another Nutcracker -- no luck on that but we did add RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER and a probable Cassin's Finch that flew off just before I could get the scope on it.
We moved on to South Fork where we struck out on Clark's Nutcracker. Perhaps the most interesting bird here was RED-FACED WARBLER, lingering quite late this far north. Other species included our second OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER of the day, WESTERN SCRUB-JAY and PINYON JAY making it a four jay day, a TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE perched atop a snag in typical fashion, and good looks at a HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER.
We finished up at a quiet Becker Lake where a fly by PEREGRINE FALCON was the only bird of note.
Day list (71 species recorded):
Pied-billed Grebe, Ruddy Duck, Am. Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Am. Coot, Killdeer, Rock & Mourning Doves, Broad-tailed & Rufous Hummingbirds, Belted Kingfisher, Red-naped Sapsucker, Hairy Woodpecker, N. Flicker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewee, Hammond's Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Pinyon Jay, Steller's Jay, Western Scrub-Jay, Gray Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, Am. Crow, Common Raven, Cassin's Vireo, American Dipper, Western Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird, Townsend's Solitaire, Am. Robin, European Starling, Pygmy & White-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creeper, House Wren, Bushtit, Tree, Violet-green, N. Rough-winged, Barn & Cliff Swallows, Ruby-crowned & Golden-crowned Kinglets, Mountain Chickadee, Horned Lark, House Sparrow, Pine Siskin, Lesser Goldfinch, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Townsend's, Hermit, MacGillivray's, Wilson's & Red-faced Warblers, Dark-eyed Junco, Green-tailed Towhee, Western Tanager, Western Meadowlark and
Friday, September 6, 2002
Day 5 with Stephen and Ann. Our targets for the day were Blue Grouse, Three-toed Woodpecker and a decent look at Clark's Nutcracker. We went 2 for 3 (Woodpecker and Nutcracker) plus we found Northern Goshawk, an "unofficial" target. A slightly warmer day in the White Mountains with afternoon thunderstorm activity at high elevation that didn't produce much in the way of rain.
We began on Green's Peak where we met a hunter who informed us that today was the first day of the grouse hunting season. Oh joy. The guy had been there with his dog for an hour so I figured we had very little chance. We stayed in the area for a couple of hours without success and also lost out on a probable Three-toed Woodpecker that disappeared before we could get a decent view. Our poor luck improved when a juvenile NORTHERN GOSHAWK passed overhead, a lifer for Stephen and Ann that I hadn't really considered as a bona fide possibility. Green's Peak was a mini hawk ridge this morning with TURKEY VULTURE, RED-TAILED and SWAINSON'S HAWKS soaring here at 10,000+ feet.
For me, the most interesting bird here was a ROCK WREN. I know that they breed at high elevation over at Sunrise, which is not too far away, but I had never seen one on Green's Peak before. Birds are generally few and far between in this environment and the few other species that we recorded included HAIRY WOODPECKER, a migrant HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER, RUBY-CROWNED and GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, BROWN CREEPER, summer resident VESPER SPARROWS still hanging in, and DARK-EYED (GRAY-HEADED) JUNCOS. Birds along the approach road (FR117) included WESTERN KINGBIRD and WESTERN & MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS.
Our next port of call was in the Mt. Baldy area, at Winn Campground to the east of Sheep's Crossing. Although I've had some success with the woodpecker here, our results surpassed even my most optimistic of expectations. We began birding around a campsite where I've seen the birds a few times before. It was a little windy so listening for tapping was difficult to say the least, especially since the bird is a light tapper to boot. Nevertheless, just a few campsites away I thought that I heard some soft tapping and we moved closer to investigate. Minutes later we were delighted to find a male THREE-TOED WOODPECKER that allowed fairly close approach without fully revealing himself. Payback for all the work that we did yesterday!
We headed back over to Greer and after enjoying lunch we enjoyed a couple of CLARK'S NUTCRACKERS also enjoying lunch. The birds were coming in to handouts at a trailer park, exactly in the location where we had a bird yesterday. Both birds remained uncharacteristically silent the whole time.
Next, we did some casual birding in a fairly quiet Butler Canyon where we encountered the only rain of the day. Yesterday I saw my first CASSIN'S VIREO in the White Mountains, a second was present in Butler Canyon today along with RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER and a few common species.
Back in Springerville we checked Becker Lake that had far less fishermen and a few more birds than yesterday. Most interesting were a couple of COMMON TERNS and an OSPREY that we watched catch a good sized fish and then really struggle to carry it off. Also present were SPOTTED SANDPIPER and BANK SWALLOW.
Saturday, September 7, 2002
Day 6 and last day with Stephen and Ann. Our targets for today were Dusky Grouse, Virginia Rail and Red Crossbill of which we only saw the grouse. A mostly cloudy and much cooler day in the White Mountains with occasional sun breaks and a few sprinkles.
We began at Big Lake Lookout where it didn't take too long to find this displaying male DUSKY GROUSE. We started looking for grouse around 7:15 am when the temperature was in the mid 40s. About 200 yards along the trail from the lookout I happened upon a female that flushed immediately and flew high into an Aspen tree. Stephen and Ann walked along the rocky bluffs to get a better view and I stayed down below in case the bird flew. A few minutes later Stephen called to say that they had a displaying male. I started running and within seconds I was completely out of breath -- at 9300 feet this location is almost 1000 feet lower than Green's Peak, even so, it doesn't pay to move fast! As it turned out, I need not have hurried because the birds stayed put for a long time and in the end we walked away from them. Once or twice the male ate some needles, the female was eating Aspen leaves. Here's another shot of the bird -- notice how much darker it is compared to the Dusky Grouse that I photographed in Wyoming earlier this year.
After checking nearby Crescent Lake for Virginia Rail (we saw an OSPREY but the marshy area at the west end of the lake was dry), we drove east to Sierra Blanca Lake, a good place for rails. Many SORAS were calling but we didn't hear anything from Virginia Rail. Perhaps most if not all have headed south, although I've seen them here as late as September 4. Of note among 20 species at the lake were a couple of WILSON'S PHALAROPES.
Next we checked the pines at Luna and Hulsey Lakes, both good locations for Red Crossbill. We came up empty at both places but did see some interesting birds in mixed species flocks. Luna Lake is the only place that I had previously seen OLIVE WARBLER in the White Mountains; today we found a juvenile along with many GRACE'S, BLACK-THROATED GRAY and a few WILSON'S WARBLERS. Also present were OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, PLUMBEOUS VIREO and CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD.
Hulsey Lake had even more activity than Luna and we found several more OLIVE and GRACE'S WARBLERS plus a nice selection of species including a regal looking OSPREY perched on a snag, 3 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS, a lone (appropriately enough) SOLITARY SANDPIPER, a noisy BELTED KINGFISHER, OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, 15-20 PINYON JAYS, CLARK'S NUTCRACKER, both PLUMBEOUS (several) and CASSIN'S VIREOS, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE and WESTERN TANAGER.
On our way back north we made a brief stop in Nutrioso for the "ever present" Lewis's Woodpeckers. Wouldn't you know it, they were nowhere to be seen during the few minutes that we spent there. Species around town included BAND-TAILED PIGEON, EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE, 30+ PINYON JAYS and 4 CLARK'S NUTCRACKERS.
We finished up at Sipe Wildlife Area where we struck out for the final time on Virginia Rail. The pond where I saw them a couple of weeks ago is now completely dry.
Day list (68 species recorded):
Pied-billed Grebe, Ruddy Duck, Mallard, Cinnamon Teal, Redhead, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, N. Harrier, Cooper's & Red-tailed Hawks, Am. Kestrel, Blue Grouse, Sora, Am. Coot, Solitary Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope, Rock Dove, Band-tailed Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Calliope, Broad-tailed & Rufous Hummingbirds, Belted Kingfisher, Hairy Woodpecker, N. Flicker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewee, Pinyon & Steller's Jays, Western Scrub-Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, Am. Crow, Common Raven, Cassin's & Plumbeous Vireos, Loggerhead Shrike, Western & Mountain Bluebirds, Hermit Thrush, Am. Robin, European Starling, Pygmy, Red-breasted & White-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creeper, House Wren, Violet-green, Barn & Cliff Swallows, Ruby-crowned & Golden-crowned Kinglets, Mountain Chickadee, Horned Lark, Lesser Goldfinch, Olive, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Gray, Grace's & Wilson's Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Dark-eyed Junco, Chipping, Brewer's & Vesper Sparrows, Green-tailed Towhee, Western Tanager and Brewer's Blackbird.
Over the past 4 days in the White Mountain we recorded 108 species (including 13 species of warblers) and saw all but one of our main targets -- Dusky Grouse, Three-toed Woodpecker, Pinyon Jay, Gray Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, American Dipper and Mountain Bluebird, missing only Red Crossbill. We also failed to see Virginia Rail but picked up Northern Goshawk. Including the two days in southeast Arizona, we recorded 177 species and saw five other targets -- Common Poorwill, Red-necked Phalarope, Pacific-slope and Hammond's Flycatchers and Five-striped Sparrow; and Stephen and Ann picked up 12 new birds, all in all not a bad few days.
Sunday, September 8, 2002
A cool and wet day in the White Mountains. Today I started a few days of "research birding", mainly to check on what migration might bring.
Activity at Sipe Wildlife Area was fairly high when I started birding near the headquarters area at 7:30am. The drive in had already produced many PINYON JAYS and MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS and a few VESPER SPARROWS. The first bird to greet me when I stepped out of the vehicle was a CASSIN'S VIREO quickly followed by a COMMON SNIPE. Common species along the Rudd Creek trail were WILSON'S and MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLERS and GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE. I recorded 40 species in a little over two hours including RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, lots of RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS, several calling GRAY FLYCATCHERS, TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE, a couple of LINCOLN'S SPARROWS, WESTERN TANAGER and 6+ LAZULI BUNTINGS.
I took the back road over to Nelson Reservoir through Pinyon-Juniper and brushy habitat and found more PINYON JAYS, 6+ BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, and many BREWER'S SPARROWS & GREEN-TAILED TOWHEES. A little south of the reservoir along Nutrioso Creek (dry at this point) I stopped to investigate what appeared to be some intense activity and turned up WILLOW FLYCATCHER and VIRGINIA'S WARBLER among lots of species already recorded.
My 10:30am arrival at Nelson Reservoir coincided with the start of heavy rain that continued on and off for the rest of the day. I couldn't see much through the rain but SPOTTED SANDPIPER, a few PINYON JAYS and a BLACK PHOEBE were all calling.
I decided to get off the mountain and head north to escape the rain. A quick check of Becker Lake produced a couple of WHITE-FACED IBIS.
The water level at Lyman Lake State Park is very low and very little was on the lake -- 13 CANADA GEESE, 2 SNOWY EGRETS, lots of GREAT BLUE HERONS and a few REDHEADS. A couple of sandpipers were too far out on the mudflats to identify. If Murphy has anything to do with it they were two different species and both would have been state records.
I had a little more success with landbirds -- I watched and photographed this juvenile COOPER'S HAWK that was trying to hunt by poking around in the holes in the rocks, perhaps because it had an injured left foot (it appeared to be tangled in fishing line). I also saw PINYON JAYS, ROCK and CANYON WRENS, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER and LAZULI BUNTING.
In the evening, I checked a very gloomy Wenima Wildlife Area where the vegetation was very soggy and it was still raining. Nevertheless, warblers were extremely active. Most were WILSON'S and MACGILLIVRAY'S and I also saw ORANGE-CROWNED, VIRGINIA'S & YELLOW WARBLERS, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and a YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT that obliged by staying in plain sight for more than the usual fleeting glimpse. GREEN-TAILED TOWHEES and WESTERN TANAGERS were both very common.
Another stop at Becker Lake as darkness approached produced the first YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS of the trip, a flock of 20+ females. Species not present earlier in the day were NORTHERN SHOVELER, LEAST SANDPIPER, lots of MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLERS and GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE.
Day list (75 species recorded):
Pied-billed Grebe, Ruddy Duck, Canada Goose, Am. Wigeon, Mallard, N. Shoveler, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, White-faced Ibis, Turkey Vulture, Cooper's & Red-tailed Hawks, Am. Kestrel, Am. Coot, Common Snipe, Spotted & Least Sandpipers, Killdeer, Mourning Dove, Broad-tailed & Rufous Hummingbirds, Red-naped Sapsucker, Hairy Woodpecker, N. Flicker, Western Wood-Pewee, Willow & Gray Flycatchers, Say's & Black Phoebes, Western Kingbird, Pinyon & Steller's Jays, Western Scrub-Jay, Am. Crow, Common Raven, Cassin's Vireo, Loggerhead Shrike, Western & Mountain Bluebirds, Townsend's Solitaire, Am. Robin, N. Mockingbird, European Starling, Rock, Canyon & House Wrens, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Violet-green, N. Rough-winged & Barn Swallows, Mountain Chickadee, Horned Lark, House Sparrow, Lesser Goldfinch, Orange-crowned, Virginia's, Yellow,
Yellow-rumped, MacGillivray's & Wilson's Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Song, Lincoln's, Chipping, Brewer's & Vesper Sparrows, Green-tailed Towhee, Western Tanager, Lazuli Bunting, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Western Meadowlark and Brewer's Blackbird.
Monday, September 9, 2002
It was a mostly cloudy day in the White Mountains but, for the most part, I managed to avoid the rain. Heavy overcast greeted me this morning and the sun didn't break through at low elevation until 9:00am; I saw some rain at mid elevation by late morning and dodged some thunderstorms at high elevation in the afternoon.
I began at Wenima Wildlife Area where I put my wellies to good use walking through the long, wet grass. By White Mountain standards there was quite a flycatcher event going on and I saw WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE, OLIVE-SIDED, WILLOW, GRAY & DUSKY FLYCATCHERS, BLACK PHOEBE and WESTERN KINGBIRD. Pewees were abundant; Gray was by far the next most common with perhaps 8 individuals. Warblers were less conspicuous than last night although WILSON'S and MACGILLIVRAY'S were very common. I saw only one VIRGINIA'S and a few YELLOW WARBLERS. About 6 YELLOW-BREASTED CHATS were very noisy. WESTERN TANAGERS and GREEN-TAILED TOWHEES were very conspicuous.
In a little over two hours I recorded almost 40 species including several raucous BELTED KINGFISHERS, calling ROCK & CANYON WRENS, WARBLING VIREO, LINCOLN'S and BREWER'S SPARROWS, 8-10 LAZULI BUNTINGS, BLACK-HEADED and BLUE GROSBEAKS and BULLOCK'S ORIOLE.
Next, I made a quick check of Becker Lake where I found SPOTTED, WESTERN and LEAST SANDPIPERS along with the regular stuff. Activity was high in the weedy area on nearby Becker Lake Road and I saw plenty of LAZULI BUNTINGS and a probable INDIGO, not seen well enough to count. Also here were a couple of BULLOCK'S ORIOLES and lots of BREWER'S SPARROWS.
A mid morning check of South Fork produced 20 species -- numerous PINYON JAYS, my second White Mountain ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, DUSKY FLYCATCHER, a lingering GRAY CATBIRD, TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE and lots of MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLERS.
After lunch in Greer I briefly checked West Fork long enough to tick AMERICAN DIPPER (I found one after about 5 minutes, I wish it could always be so!), then I spent 1 1/2 hours at Greer Lakes where I had the place almost to myself. I made quick checks of the normally unproductive reservoirs first (OSPREY at Bunch Reservoir, SAY'S PHOEBE and PINYON JAYS at Tunnel Reservoir) then spent the rest of my time at River Reservoir. Loafing here on the rocky shore above the dam were 41 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, not-to-be-outdone 42 COMMON MERGANSERS and 6 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS. Another OSPREY was on a snag surveying the scene.
The pines were fairly active with lots of PYGMY NUTHATCHES and MOUNTAIN CHICKADEES chattering and both CASSIN'S and PLUMBEOUS VIREOS singing. On the rocks near the dam was a ROCK WREN; working over the dam were lots of VIOLET-GREEN and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SPARROWS; below the dam were BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, WILSON'S WARBLER and LINCOLN'S SPARROW.
The sky to the west looked ominous and I debated with myself about heading to Sunrise Lake. I won the debate and cursed when I arrived -- there was thunderstorm activity all around and light rain and poor light made the viewing tough, especially with distant birds due to the low water level. In the end I was very happy with my decision because I picked up MARBLED GODWIT, a new White Mountain species for me.
Scanning the ducks was made difficult by an adult BALD EAGLE that spooked everybody several times. There was also an OSPREY present. I recorded 30 species here including several new for the trip -- GADWALL (normally common in the White Mountains), 2 RING-BILLED GULLS and SAVANNAH SPARROW. Also present were 2 EARED GREBES (scarce so far), 4 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, many hundreds of AMERICAN WIGEON, a lone SNOWY EGRET, 10 WHITE-FACED IBIS, 10 WESTERN SANDPIPERS, a few VESPER SPARROWS and large flocks (circa 50 each) of EASTERN and WESTERN MEADOWLARKS.
Day list (92 species recorded)
Pied-billed & Eared Grebes, Double-crested Cormorant, Ruddy Duck, Am. Wigeon, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, N. Pintail, Cinnamon Teal, N. Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, Common Merganser, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, White-faced Ibis, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Cooper's & Red-tailed Hawks, Am. Kestrel, Am. Coot, Marbled Godwit, Spotted, Western & Least Sandpipers, Killdeer, Ring-billed Gull, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, N. Flicker, Western Wood-Pewee, Olive-sided, Willow, Gray, Dusky & Ash-throated Flycatchers, Say's & Black Phoebes, Western Kingbird, Pinyon & Steller's Jays, Western Scrub-Jay, Am. Crow, Common Raven, Cassin's, Plumbeous & Warbling Vireos, Am. Dipper, Western Bluebird, Townsend's Solitaire, Gray Catbird, European Starling, Pygmy Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Rock, Canyon & House Wrens, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Violet-green, N. Rough-winged, Barn & Cliff Swallows, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Mountain Chickadee, Horned Lark, Pine Siskin, Lesser Goldfinch, Virginia's, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, MacGillivray's & Wilson's Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Lincoln's, Savannah, Chipping, Brewer's & Vesper Sparrows, Green-tailed Towhee, Western Tanager, Black-headed &, Blue Grosbeaks, Lazuli Bunting, Bullock's Oriole, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Eastern & Western Meadowlarks and Brewer's Blackbird.
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
My last day in the White Mountains was mostly gray, gloomy and wet. Unlike the last couple of days, today I was unable to escape the effects of the weather and almost every stop was impacted by rain. In order I visited Nelson Reservoir, Nutrioso, Hulsey Lake, Luna Lake, Sierra Blanca Lake, Big Lake, Crescent Lake, Wenima Wildlife Area and Becker Lake. Despite the weather I recorded 94 species, two more than the previous daily high over the past 7 days in the White Mountains. I also added 7 species to the trip list that finished at 157 (148 in the mountains) and found 3 new birds for my White Mountain list that now stands at 206. How I wish I could spend more time here during spring migration!
A new trip bird greeting me as I walked to the breakfast room at the motel this morning -- 3 fly-by LARK SPARROWS. I saw them in two other places during the day.
I started at Nelson Reservoir where the water level has been gradually rising over the past few days. I stayed just a few minutes, long enough to hear a BLACK PHOEBE calling, a PLUMBEOUS VIREO singing in the rain; and see a few GREEN-WINGED and CINNAMON TEAL on the water.
By the time I reached Nutrioso the rain had abated a little and the riparian area along Nutrioso Creek was alive with bedraggled birds. Most were WESTERN TANAGERS. BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAKS and LAZULI BUNTINGS. Also here were HAIRY WOODPECKER, a few WILSON'S WARBLERS, several GREEN-TAILED TOWHEES and BLUE GROSBEAK.
I cruised around the very birdy "downtown" Nutrioso feeling like a voyeur (as if I knew) looking for a LEWIS'S WOODPECKER that had so far eluded me. It took 30 minutes but I finally found one sitting atop a power pole. In the process I recorded almost 20 species included 2 EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES that seem to be regular near the post office (seen on last 3 visits), lots of WESTERN WOOD-PEWEES working atypically low, four fly-by CLARK'S NUTCRACKERS, a few BULLOCK'S ORIOLES, 2 LARK SPARROWS and large flocks of PINE SISKINS and LAZULI BUNTINGS.
A stop at Nutrioso Reservoir was almost rain free and quite productive with a surprising 30 species. New for the trip were GREAT EGRET and a few BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS (!) mingling with a small flock of YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS. In the pines were a fair sized flock of PINYON JAYS, MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE, many WESTERN WOOD-PEWEES, a singing PLUMBEOUS VIREO and a few WESTERN TANAGERS. Several swallow species worked over the water including numerous BANK SWALLOWS. Among the birds on the water were 3 EARED GREBES, a few CANADA GEESE, a couple of REDHEADS, many GREAT BLUE HERONS and 6 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS.
At Hulsey Lake, I birded in drizzle for almost an hour before heavy rain finally drove me away. An OSPREY was standing guard over this tiny lake which, unfortunately, wasn't as birdy as it was last Saturday. No sign of the mixed species flock that was present on that day but (presumably) the same SOLITARY SANDPIPER was around the edge of lake. Among the 26 species that I recorded were BELTED KINGFISHER, more fly-by CLARK'S NUTCRACKERS, a few PYGMY NUTHATCHES (normally common here), HERMIT THRUSH, ORANGE-CROWNED, WILSON'S and MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLERS, LINCOLN'S SPARROW, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE and lots of GRAY-HEADED JUNCOS.
Much of the two hours that I spent at Luna Lake was spent waiting for breaks in the rain. However, my persistence was well rewarded. Normally there isn't much shorebird habitat here but the low water level has created some nice mud flats at the west end of the lake. As I was scanning through the drizzle, more in hope than expectation, a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER in very close to full alternate plumage popped into my 'scope. Even from a distance the bird looked very crisp and black and white looking. Just as the rain forced me back into the car for the umpteenth time, I heard the call of a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER and looked up to see five birds circling around. When the rain stopped I was able to locate two of them. Such a deal, two new White Mountain shorebirds within the space of a few minutes.
In fact, shorebirds were much in evidence for this normally shorebird free zone -- a lone WHITE-FACED IBIS, at least 4 SPOTTED SANDPIPERS, 4 LEAST SANDPIPERS and 5 WILSON'S PHALAROPES. Other species from 35 recorded were the continuing BROWN PELICAN, OSPREY, SAY'S PHOEBE, lots of WESTERN BLUEBIRDS, LINCOLN'S and BREWER'S SPARROWS and a flock of mostly immature and female YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS.
Shortly after I turned onto the Big Lake Road (FR249), I saw another LEWIS'S WOODPECKER perched atop a snag. That was pretty much the highlight for the next couple of hours. Sierra Blanca Lake was very quiet except for a few calling SORAS and the raucous calls of CLARK'S NUTCRACKERS. As is often the case, Big Lake was a washout (literally today as well as figuratively). Crescent Lake had a little more going on with a few COMMON MERGANSERS, MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS and LARK SPARROWS.
After an afternoon break, I headed out to Wenima Wildlife Area where it was very windy as the storm that had been on the mountain all day came closer. Birds were hard to come by and I didn't stay long. All the usual migrants were present in low numbers.
My final stop of the day was at a very dark, cold and windy Becker Lake. I again got my reward for braving the conditions in the form of 3 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS, my third new White Mountain shorebird of the day. Also present were 11 WHITE-FACED IBIS, a few SPOTTED and 8 LEAST SANDPIPERS, NORTHERN HARRIER and a few common ducks.
Day list (94 species recorded):
Pied-billed & Eared Grebes, Brown Pelican, Ruddy Duck, Canada Goose, Am. Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, N. Pintail, Cinnamon Teal, N. Shoveler, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Common Merganser, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White-faced Ibis, Osprey, N. Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Am. Kestrel, Sora, Am. Coot, Long-billed Dowitcher, Solitary, Spotted & Least Sandpipers, Wilson's Phalarope, Black-bellied & Semipalmated Plovers, Killdeer, Rock Dove, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Lewis's & Hairy Woodpeckers, N. Flicker, Western Wood-Pewee, Say's & Black Phoebes, Western Kingbird, Pinyon & Steller's Jays, Clark's Nutcracker, Am. Crow, Common Raven, Plumbeous Vireo, Loggerhead Shrike, Western & Mountain Bluebirds, Townsend's Solitaire, Hermit Thrush, Am. Robin, European Starling, Pygmy & White-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creeper, Canyon & House Wrens, Violet-green, N. Rough-winged, Bank, Barn & Cliff Swallows, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Mountain Chickadee, House Sparrow, Pine Siskin, Lesser Goldfinch, Orange-crowned, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, MacGillivray's & Wilson's Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Dark-eyed Junco, Lincoln's, Chipping, Brewer's & Lark Sparrows, Green-tailed Towhee, Western Tanager, Black-headed & Blue Grosbeaks, Lazuli Bunting, Bullock's Oriole, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Eastern & Western Meadowlarks, Brewer's Blackbird and Brown-headed Cowbird.
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
I'd originally intended to stay in the White Mountains until Thursday but it isn't much fun birding in the rain and more is forecast for the next two days. I left Springerville at 4:20am and rolled into Willcox at 8:10am after a drive of 216 miles. It was cloudy for most of the journey and it was fairly cool and pleasant when I started birding, although the sky soon cleared and it became quite warm. On the way home I used air conditioning for the first time in a week.
Shorebird habitat continues very good and there were plenty of birds to look at. After a little scanning, I picked up my first PECTORAL SANDPIPER of the season. WILSON'S PHALAROPES were plentiful and there were perhaps as many as 20 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES. The usual LEAST, WESTERN and 1 BAIRD'S were present along with both YELLOWLEGS, both DOWITCHERS, FRANKLIN'S GULL, BLACK TERN, AMERICAN AVOCET, BLACK-NECKED STILT and WHITE-FACED IBIS. Ducks are on the increase; present today were GREEN-WINGED and CINNAMON TEAL, NORTHERN PINTAIL and lots of NORTHERN SHOVELERS.
Mark Stevenson was birding a few hundred yards away and his whistle and shout of "Jaeger" got my attention. I drove around to his location and looked at what turned out to be a juvenile PARASITIC JAEGER. I'm calling it light morph even though it appears somewhat darker than "normal light morph" (tending towards intermediate, although much more at the light morph end of the spectrum than intermediate). This collection of photos show details of head, bill, nape, back and tail. It was pointed out to me that adult Parasitics have a pale/whitish facial crescent at the base of the bill and you can see this in the detail photos and Sibley page 198.
I was hoping that it would be a Long-tailed, a bird that I've never seen (one was present at Nelson Reservoir last month.). I've seen Parasitic in Arizona once before (a dark morph juvenile on October 30, 2001 at Whitewater Draw) so it wasn't even a state bird. Boo-hoo. Just kidding, a great bird in landlocked Arizona and a pleasant surprise on my return to southeast Arizona. As it turned out, it was a milestone bird -- the 300th cumulative species that I've seen in Arizona in September.
Saturday, September 14, 2002
Out today with John Bjorkman from Seattle, WA. We had a successful day of target birding in the Huachucas for sparrows, warblers and a few specialties. It was a mostly sunny day and bird activity subsided as early as 9:30am.
We began in Garden Canyon grassland shortly after sunrise where BOTTERI'S SPARROWS were very numerous. Quite a few of them were singing and carrying food. CASSIN'S SPARROW wasn't quite as easy to find and in the end we found just one juvenile. Several (4-6) VESPER SPARROWS rounded out our sparrows -- they normally arrive in Garden Canyon at the beginning of the second week in September. Other mesquite-grassland species were few and far between -- RED-TAILED HAWK, LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER, VERDIN, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, PHAINOPEPLA, lots of VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS on the wires, BLUE GROSBEAK (still singing) and EASTERN MEADOWLARK (always singing!).
Next, we headed up to Sawmill Canyon, arriving there at 7:40am. Even then, the sun had only just fully reached the cabin area. We set about looking and listening for Buff-breasted Flycatcher. They become pretty thin on the ground by mid September and listening for them is made a little more difficult by the many YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS. It's fairly easy to differentiate their calls but they sound enough alike at a distance to make you check each one. When the flycatchers arrive and just before they leave, around and below the cabin area is the best spot to look for them. We became distracted by the calls of a couple of MONTEZUMA QUAIL, calling back and forth to each other not too far from our location. Of course, as soon as we headed in their direction they fell silent and that was the end of that.
Our quest for the flycatcher took a downward turn when 4 vehicle loads of very noisy boy scouts arrived. Gone was the peace and quiet and with it, so were we. The situation reminded me of one of Smitty's sayings "if you want to commune with nature, don't drown it out".
We bailed out walked up canyon a little way and found a mixed species flock that we stayed with for almost an hour. We weeded out a few ARIZONA WOODPECKERS, my earliest (by one week) SE AZ fall RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, a calling NASHVILLE WARBLER, a silent BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER that foraged very close to us, a dozen or so singing GRACE'S WARBLERS, a couple of silent HERMIT WARBLERS, several singing PAINTED REDSTARTS, a calling HEPATIC TANAGER and only my second Sawmill GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE.
Our time here was well spent, because the Boy Scouts finished unloading their stuff and trooped (ha ha) up the canyon which allowed us to return to the cabin area. We walked down the road below the cabin and it didn't take long to track down a calling BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHER. The bird was a very buffy individual and cooperated well by perching low and in the open in typical fashion.
On the way back down Garden Canyon we had to work hard in a dangerous location to see a singing CANYON WREN. I said to John that now we would almost certainly see an easy one in Scheelite Canyon, and sure enough we did.
Now it was time to do battle with the owls in Scheelite Canyon. The sighting sheets had been recently removed and showed no owl reports dating back to September 5. We searched the lower area without success and finally had to head further up canyon. At the 3/4 mile split I had the usual dilemma, i.e. which fork to check first. The right fork is the hardest to check but I see an owl here more, whereas the left fork is easiest to check but has less sightings. My normal strategy is to first check the fork where I last saw an owl. If only I'd done that today, instead I chose a mixed strategy. There's one particular tree along the left fork of the canyon that the owls use a lot and after checking that tree I decided to head up the right fork since I'm pretty big on playing percentages. Of course, there was no sign of an owl and we had to return to check the remainder of the left fork.
Eventually, in a very hard to see location, we found this SPOTTED OWL. Even though it looks as though it would be easy to find from this photograph, I can tell you that it definitely wasn't. The bird was in the bottom of a side canyon in a tree where I've seen an owl only once before. As a bonus for all the hard work, flitting around very close to the owl were a couple of TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS and a juvenile OLIVE WARBLER.
So, our day ended on a positive note but with a tad too
much walking. Of course, the owl is always in the last place that I look. If
only I could figure out a way to make that the first place I look and skip
checking all the places that it isn't! We recorded the following 53 species in
Garden, Scheelite and Sawmill Canyons from 6:00am-2:00pm.
Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Am. Kestrel, Montezuma Quail, Mourning Dove, Spotted Owl, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Red-naped Sapsucker, Acorn, Ladder-backed & Arizona Woodpeckers, N. Flicker, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Steller's & Mexican Jays, Western Scrub-Jay, Chihuahuan Raven, Hutton's & Plumbeous Vireos, Loggerhead Shrike, Phainopepla, Hermit Thrush, Am. Robin, Curve-billed Thrasher, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Canyon & Bewick's Wrens, Verdin, Bushtit, Violet-green Swallow, Bridled Titmouse, Lesser Goldfinch, House Finch, Olive, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Gray, Townsend's, Hermit & Grace's Warblers, Painted Redstart, Vesper, Botteri's & Cassin's Sparrows, Green-tailed & Canyon Towhees, Hepatic Tanager, Black-headed & Blue Grosbeaks and Eastern Meadowlark.
Tuesday, September 17, 2002
After several days of computer crap getting both my laptop and desktop machines running Windows XP, and then getting all my software to work (can you say "driver download?"), I was happy to be outside this morning. I checked Whitewater Draw for the first time in a while and I was a little surprised by the high water levels. Habitat for waterfowl is therefore very good, not so good for shorebirds. There's also plenty of weedy areas and leafy willows for landbirds.
The most interesting birds were a handful of SANDHILL CRANES, my earliest sighting in SE AZ. They gave the place a flavor of winter even though it was a sunny and warm mid September morning. In fact, "winter" birds were well represented with such species as NORTHERN HARRIER, MARSH WREN, LARK BUNTING, LINCOLN'S, SAVANNAH, BREWER'S & VESPER SPARROWS and a large flock of YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS.
Summer is still hanging in though as evidenced by several SWAINSON'S HAWKS, a few CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS, at least 6 singing BLUE GROSBEAKS and a chattering BULLOCK'S ORIOLE.
Out on the water I noted PIED-BILLED GREBE, RUDDY DUCK, AMERICAN WIGEON, GREEN-WINGED and CINNAMON TEAL, MALLARD, NORTHERN PINTAIL, NORTHERN SHOVELER and SORA. All except Mallard were in very low numbers. Waders were generally hard to come by, no doubt due to the lack of habitat, and the only common species was WHITE-FACED IBIS. Others were LONG-BILLED CURLEW, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, SPOTTED and LEAST SANDPIPERS and a dozen AMERICAN AVOCETS.
Migrant landbirds included DUSKY FLYCATCHER, several hundred WESTERN KINGBIRDS, 5 species of swallows with TREE and BANK being most numerous, and YELLOW & WILSON'S WARBLERS.
Among the other species present from 60 seen were AMERICAN KESTREL, SCALED QUAIL, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, GREATER ROADRUNNER, SAY'S & BLACK PHOEBES, and a half dozen VERMILION FLYCATCHERS.
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Out today with Jean and Lee Turner from Bradenton, FL for a late season visit to California Gulch. I birded with Jean for a couple of days last month when we didn't have time to visit the gulch. I'd already explained that I thought our chances of finding Five-striped Sparrow were not good this late in the season, so imagine my dismay this morning to find less than optimum conditions. It was very overcast and gloomy and rain looked likely, worse still it was also quite windy.
I left Sierra Vista at 3:00am to meet Jean and Lee in Nogales. In darkness along the Ruby Road we saw BARN OWL and 2 COMMON POORWILLS. We arrived in the gulch shortly after sunrise when very little was stirring. Fortunately, the conditions improved and it became quite birdy, so much so that by the time we left we had recorded a total of 47 species.
I first heard a FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW after about an hour of searching, two of them in fact, near the second stream crossing. The birds stayed low in the vegetation and it was almost 15 minutes later before we saw one. A very cooperative bird flew across to the west side of the gulch and perched at eye level in perfect light -- then stayed there while we got the 'scope on it for an excellent look. Sometimes it's good to be wrong!
Our timing couldn't have been better as we returned to the vehicle at the south end of the gulch; here we saw a couple of secondary target birds -- NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET and PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER, initially in the same mesquite. Flycatchers were well represented today with the others being OLIVE-SIDED, GRAY, ASH-THROATED and VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, BLACK & SAY'S PHOEBES, and THICK-BILLED, CASSIN'S and WESTERN KINGBIRDS.
Among the gulch regulars were 2 GRAY HAWKS, ROCK & CANYON WRENS, BELL'S VIREO, RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW, several calling SUMMER TANAGERS, many singing BLUE GROSBEAKS and a few calling VARIED BUNTINGS (none singing). In addition to some of the flycatchers previously mentioned, other migrants included WARBLING VIREO, BLACK-THROATED GRAY and WILSON'S WARBLERS, WESTERN TANAGER and BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK.
Thursday, September 19, 2002
Out today with Peter Gaines from Medfield, MA. On a sunny and warm day we looked for a few target birds in the Huachucas and on the San Pedro river.
Compared to last Saturday, BOTTERI'S SPARROW was much harder to find in Garden Canyon grassland this morning and we saw just one of them, albeit very well. What an amazing change of circumstances in just a few days. Also in the mesquite-grassland were CACTUS & BEWICK'S WRENS, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, VERDIN, PHAINOPEPLA, CHIPPING and VESPER SPARROWS, BLUE GROSBEAK, WESTERN TANAGER and BULLOCK'S ORIOLE.
After a slow start, the birding in Sawmill Canyon was very good and we saw most of our targets among the 30 species that we recorded in 2.5 hours. Highlights for me were two new birds for the canyon, both near the entrance -- an INCA DOVE that was drinking from a spring fed puddle; and a lone VAUX'S SWIFT that unfortunately didn't stick around long enough for Peter to see. The swift was notable for a couple of other reasons, it's the first one that I've seen in SE AZ in fall (all my other records are in Spring); and it's the first one that I've seen in the SE AZ mountains, my other sightings have been in riparian situations. (The bird is a regular fall migrant and it does use the mountains, so I guess I just need to get out more.)
We did pretty well on flycatchers. First came a CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER that could have been a little more cooperative (getting late for this species). Next was a very cooperative OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER perched high on a snag in typical fashion. Last but not least we enjoyed an excellent look at a calling BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHER, a bird that I thought we might not find today ( I only have three later records).
I'd mentioned to Peter that we needed to find a mixed flock in order to pick up some warblers. When I heard the chattering of BRIDLED TITMICE we headed in their direction and after some patient searching we got our reward in the form of BLACK-THROATED GRAY, HERMIT and GRACE'S WARBLERS and a PAINTED REDSTART. Earlier we had seen NASHVILLE, YELLOW-RUMPED and TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS. Also near the flock was a fairly cooperative ARIZONA WOODPECKER.
Among the other species in the canyon were COOPER'S HAWK, 3 flyover WESTERN SCRUB-JAYS (only my 5th Sawmill record in over 450 visits, although they are fairly common nearby), BROWN CREEPER, HERMIT THRUSH, HUTTON'S & PLUMBEOUS VIREOS, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK and HEPATIC & WESTERN TANAGERS.
It was quite warm as we began our walk up Scheelite Canyon and I was hoping that I wouldn't need to repeat last Saturday's marathon search. Fortunately, the owl gods smiled upon me and I located a relatively easy to find SPOTTED OWL after only 30 minutes. The bird was in a regularly used oak tree along a side trail near the 5/8 mile mark.
In the early afternoon, when it was nice and toasty, we finished up with an hour on the San Pedro looking for migrants. Not much was stirring and a couple of male LAZULI BUNTING feeding in the weeds were all we that had to show for our efforts. SUMMER TANAGERS were fairly common and many were calling, with one bird actually singing. Others from 20 recorded were HAMMOND'S & VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, PLUMBEOUS VIREO, ABERT'S TOWHEE and BREWER'S SPARROW.
The first bird that we saw this morning was a fly-by CHIHUAHUAN RAVEN. During the drive back to town and along Fry Blvd. I looked for a perched individual of this normally common bird. Would you believe it, not a one to be seen. Ironically, the first bird that I saw after I left Peter was a Chihuahuan Raven on Fry Blvd!
Day list (67 species recorded):
Turkey Vulture, Cooper's & Red-tailed Hawks, Am. Kestrel, Rock, Mourning & Inca Doves, Spotted Owl, Vaux's Swift, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Acorn, Gila, Ladder-backed & Arizona Woodpeckers, N. Flicker, Western Wood-Pewee, Olive-sided, Hammond's, Cordilleran, Buff-breasted & Vermilion Flycatchers, Black Phoebe, Cassin's Kingbird, Western Scrub-Jay, Steller's & Mexican Jays, Chihuahuan & Common Ravens, Hutton's & Plumbeous Vireos, Loggerhead Shrike, Phainopepla, Hermit Thrush, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Cactus, Canyon & Bewick's Wrens, Verdin, Bridled Titmouse, Lesser Goldfinch, Nashville, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Gray, Townsend's, Hermit, Grace's & Wilson's Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Painted Redstart, Yellow-eyed Junco, Song, Chipping, Brewer's, Vesper, Botteri's & Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Abert's Towhee, Hepatic, Summer & Western Tanagers, Black-headed & Blue Grosbeaks, Lazuli Bunting, Bullock's Oriole, Eastern Meadowlark and Great-tailed Grackle.
Saturday, September 21, 2002
For the first time this fall, there was just a little nip in the air when I began birding near the San Pedro House at 6:30am. this morning. I was here in the early afternoon on Thursday when it was quite warm and an hour then produced just 20 species, all but one of which were seen along the river proper. This morning, two hours produced 52 species, all but six of which were seen away from the river proper. This emphasizes a point that may not be apparent to out-of-state birders -- when birding the San Pedro first thing in the morning at all times except during the heart and heat of summer, it's important to start by birding in the mesquite, grassland, washes and along the periphery of the river before birding the canopy along the river proper, which is generally quite dead early on.
Species that I don't see much here were a KILLDEER in the San Pedro House parking lot and a couple of fly-by BREWER'S BLACKBIRD, only my 3rd record on the SPRNCA.
Continuing summer species were a couple of very vocal GRAY HAWKS on the east side of the river, a few VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, a singing BELL'S VIREO, one each YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT and BULLOCK'S ORIOLE (both calling) and many SUMMER TANAGERS and BLUE GROSBEAKS. Both CASSIN'S and WESTERN KINGBIRDS were gathered in numbers near the San Pedro House.
Migrants/wintering species were much in evidence -- GREEN-TAILED TOWHEES were very common while LAZULI BUNTINGS were abundant in the weedy areas. WILLOW & DUSKY FLYCATCHERS, WARBLING VIREO and MACGILLIVRAY'S & WILSON'S WARBLERS were at or near the big pond. Birds in the cottonwoods and willows along the river were quite scarce and only a PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER was of note.
Winter sparrows are back, some in numbers, and today I saw 7 species including my first-of-season WHITE-CROWNED that were quite common in Garden wash.
I recorded the following from 6:30-8:45am.
Great Blue Heron, Gray & Red-tailed Hawks, Am. Kestrel, Am. Coot, Killdeer, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Gila & Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, N. Flicker, Willow, Dusky, Pacific-slope & Vermilion Flycatchers, Black Phoebe, Cassin's & Western Kingbirds, Bell's & Warbling Vireos, Loggerhead Shrike, Curve-billed & Crissal Thrashers, European Starling, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bewick's Wren, Barn Swallow, House Sparrow, Lesser Goldfinch, House Finch, MacGillivray's & Wilson's Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-breasted Chat, Song, Lincoln's, White-crowned, Chipping, Brewer's, Vesper & Lark Sparrows, Green-tailed Towhee, Abert's Towhee, Summer & Western Tanagers, Black-headed & Blue Grosbeaks, Pyrrhuloxia, Lazuli Bunting, Bullock's Oriole and Brewer's Blackbird.
Sunday, September 22, 2002
This morning I decided to check on the warblers in French Joe Canyon. I left home relatively early and started hiking about 15 minutes before sunrise when it was ever so slightly chilly. Unfortunately, that didn't last very long since the canyon faces east and it was a clear morning.
The drive in yielded just one species, a CANYON TOWHEE, and my walk to the upper spring didn't add much -- just MEXICAN JAY, BRIDLED TITMOUSE, HOUSE WREN and NORTHERN CARDINAL. I arrived at a very quiet spring at 6:40am and settled down to wait. A few birds became active as the sun started to bathe the area, particularly a couple of flycatchers -- CORDILLERAN and HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHERS working very close together. Resident LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER, BEWICK'S WREN, HUTTON'S VIREO, RUFOUS-CROWNED and BLACK-CHINNED SPARROWS and SPOTTED TOWHEE all started to call and I also heard a distant CRISSAL THRASHER.
Had I not checked my email before leaving, the next sound would have taken me completely by surprise -- the delightful and unmistakable calls of a flock of PINYON JAYS from beyond a high ridge (species #139 for my French Joe list). In some years, September is the month that they wander southwards and some were seen in Miller Canyon yesterday. There was also a report of some in Tucson today so perhaps it's going to be an irruption year.
I continued to enjoy the comings and goings at the spring; the next visitors were RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, WESTERN SCRUB-JAY, BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER and HEPATIC TANAGER. What little activity and vocalization there was faded away as my season first SHARP-SHINNED HAWK zoomed in. I have a handful of fall and winter records here, all from around the spring.
Shortly after 7:00am., I heard the distant sputtering calls of a RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER from well up canyon. I waited around for another 45 minutes before deciding to head up the "trail" to the upper (dry) waterfall (trail is much too grandiose a name for this birder enhanced cow path). Actually, it's very dangerous and I'm always wary of taking it. Perhaps since I was alone today I should have been satisfied with just hearing the bird, but no. I reached the rapidly drying out but still quite lush area above the waterfall about 7:50am and heard several warblers briefly vocalizing. However, it wasn't until 8:15am that I finally managed to track them down and get a look at a perched bird. It's difficult to say how many birds were present. I can definitely say two, probably three and possibly four.
Despite a birdless 45 minute walk back to my vehicle, it was a good morning. I spoiled it somewhat by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory when I again twisted my ankle about 200 yards from the car. This is the third or fourth time that I've done this since I initially twisted it at the end of June. Perhaps it's time to get it looked at (gee, you think!)
I recorded the following 33 species in the canyon from 5:40-9:30am (Hwy
Turkey Vulture, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-naped Sapsucker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, N. Flicker, Hammond's & Cordilleran Flycatchers, Say's Phoebe, Pinyon & Mexican Jays, Western Scrub-Jay, Hutton's Vireo, Loggerhead Shrike, Curve-billed & Crissal Thrashers, Canyon, Bewick's & House Wrens, Bushtit, Bridled Titmouse, Lesser Goldfinch, Black-throated Gray & Rufous-capped Warblers, Lincoln's, Black-chinned, Black-throated & Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Green-tailed, Spotted & Canyon Towhees, Hepatic Tanager, N. Cardinal and Blue Grosbeak.
Monday, September 23, 2002
Today I started a short trip to the White Mountains. Before heading north I stopped off at a very birdy Willcox where I recorded 60 species in 1.5 hours. I started at the Golf Course pond and then checked the main pond where shorebird habitat continues to improve. I didn't spend any time looking for the Parasitic Jaeger and didn't come across it casually. There have been a few conflicting reports of California and RING-BILLED GULLS recently, so I focused on looking for gulls. I got the booby prize plus the continuing FRANKLIN'S GULL.
I arrived about 10 minutes after sunrise to find lots of activity in the area near the club house. A couple of singing WESTERN MEADOWLARKS caught me by surprise -- this was my first September record for southeast Arizona, I don't usually see the early arrivals until the first week of October. Out on the Golf Course grass with the continuing CANADA GOOSE were a couple of GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE. They normally start to show up in September; my earliest record is September 3, 1996 at Patagonia Lake. Other migrants/winter species included MARSH WREN, ORANGE-CROWNED, YELLOW-RUMPED & MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLERS, TREE SWALLOW, LARK BUNTING, LINCOLN'S, WHITE-CROWNED, SAVANNAH, BREWER'S and VESPER SPARROWS and a fair number of YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS.
The main pond was loaded with ducks and shorebirds, most of which have been around for some time. However, it was definitely unusual too see almost twice as many RED-NECKED PHALAROPES as WILSON'S. A couple of raptors on adjacent poles turned out to be PRAIRIE FALCON and SWAINSON'S HAWK.
I pulled into Luna Lake at 12:00 noon to find atypically calm and warm conditions. There was also a fire burning in the mountains to the south and the entire area was covered with a smoky haze that created a yucky environment for birding. Fortunately, the lake wasn't very birdy so I only needed to stay for 30 minutes. The water level has risen considerably since I was last here and the mudflats at the west end are completely gone. The only bird of note from 14 recorded was WESTERN GREBE.
Continuing on to Springerville I checked Nutrioso Creek, Nutrioso Reservoir and Nelson Reservoir without seeing anything out of the ordinary. Nelson Reservoir had the usual PINYON JAYS confirming that they haven't all headed down to southeast Arizona!
Following an afternoon break, I drove north to check Lyman Lake. It was a pretty warm day for September in the White Mountains -- the temperature was 85 degrees when I left Springerville at 3:30pm. The water level at Lyman Lake has risen enough that I needed to drive out to the south end in order to check properly (unnecessary a couple of weeks ago). Although I only saw 16 species here in the heat of the day, I did get some reward in the form of my season first SAGE THRASHER. Other migrants included 25 WHITE-FACED IBIS and a WESTERN TANAGER.
I finished the day at Becker Lake where mosquitoes were far more prevalent than birds. The only "highlight" here was a WESTERN GREBE.
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Another warm day in the White Mountains and, with just a couple of minor exceptions, a day of lackluster birding as migration winds down. I started at Sipe Wildlife Area, briefly checked Nelson Reservoir then explored the northern section of Rudd Creek north of the reservoir. Mid morning I checked Water Canyon in Eagar then moved over to Greer to look at West Fork and Greer Lakes; then finished up at White Mountain Reservoir and Sunrise Lake in the early afternoon. Late afternoon visits to Wenima Wildlife Area and Becker Lake did nothing to improve on the quality of my earlier birding.
Sipe Wildlife Area is one of my favorite places to go so you can imagine how pissed and disappointed I was when a gang of prison workers fired up the weed whackers and lawn mowers. To make matters worse it was a little windy. Needless to say I bailed out in disgust after less than 1.5 hours without thoroughly checking the area. I managed to record 35 species with the highlight being a WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER Also of note was a CANYON TOWHEE that was only my third sighting in the White Mountains. Among the other species were a BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (the only hummer that I've seen so far), a few PINYON JAYS, many WESTERN and MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS, a singing PLUMBEOUS VIREO, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE.
There's a section of Rudd Creek just north of Nelson Reservoir that I've driven past countless times, each time promising myself that "next time" I would check it. Well, today I did just that. It's a nice riparian area (very small, but denser than most in the White Mountains) that opens out into a meadow type environment with rocky bluffs, pines and junipers and it would obviously be better explored in spring and summer. Today I found RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, DUSKY FLYCATCHER, numerous WESTERN SCRUB-JAYS and TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRES, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER.
On Water Canyon Road (opposite the lumber mill) I saw 6 EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES, the most that I've seen together in Arizona.
Greer was fairly quiet and I added just a handful of species to the day list -- a few DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, 40+ COMMON MERGANSERS, BELTED KINGFISHER, PYGMY NUTHATCH and DARK-EYED JUNCO.
White Mountain Reservoir was essentially devoid of birds, whereas Sunrise Lake was teeming with birds, most of which I couldn't identify. The combination of distant birds (due to low water) and the heat shimmer made viewing very difficult. Over 50 CANADA GEESE and the common ducks were easy to pick out but it got fuzzy after that.
Later in the afternoon, I picked up the first MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER of the trip at Wenima and a REDHEAD at Becker Lake and finished the day with 65 species.
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
The warm weather in the White Mountains continued today, although the clouds built up earlier and it was slightly cooler than yesterday. You know that if Phoenix is at or above record temperatures for the date it has to be pretty warm! Today I started at South Fork then covered some of the same ground as yesterday by checking White Mountain Reservoir, Sunrise Lake and West Fork in Greer. Before heading south I looked at Becker and Luna Lakes and finished up at Willcox back in southeast Arizona.
When I arrived at South Fork shortly after sunrise this morning, it was the chilliest start to any of my birding days for quite some time. It took a while before the birds came alive and even then I only managed to grind out 30 species. However, worth all the effort was a SUMMER TANAGER, a new species for me in the White Mountains. From the checking that I have done, I found one previous record for this location back in 1976.
Other migrants included RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, 2 DUSKY FLYCATCHERS, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, ORANGE-CROWNED, MACGILLIVRAY'S & WILSON'S WARBLERS, LINCOLN'S & WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS and a handful of WESTERN TANAGERS.
PINYON JAYS were absolutely abundant, milling around every which way and calling constantly the whole time that I was there. TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRES were very easy to see -- many birds were perched up calling and singing and well as flying back and forth.
I was at Sunrise about four hours earlier than yesterday and viewing conditions were much better. Unfortunately, it didn't produce much in terms of additional species. Highlights from 20 species were 8 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS and a large flock of my season first AMERICAN PIPITS.
Conditions in Greer were delightful and birding along West Fork was very pleasant. However, the highlight here was breakfast at the Rendezvous Diner.
During my final check of a very warm Becker Lake at midday I saw what was presumably a continuing WESTERN GREBE.
I usually end my trips to the White Mountains with a check of Luna Lake before heading south through New Mexico on Hwy 180. I almost skipped it today for a couple of reasons -- 1) the fire to the south was still burning and the Alpine area was very smoky, and 2) I wanted to make sure that I made it to Willcox with daylight left. I was undecided until I reached the lake entrance, as it turned out I did the right thing by stopping.
On my trip a couple of weeks ago I saw quite a few shorebirds, whereas on this trip I had seen only the Dowitchers earlier this morning. As soon as I pulled to a halt I could see a very white looking shorebird flying around in the distance, apparently looking for a place to put down. I said to myself "wow, that looks like a SANDERLING". I lost the bird but a few minutes later it did a close fly-by and even called to alert me to its presence. A good bird anywhere in Arizona and, needless to say, another new bird for me in the White Mountains. I did some checking and found out that there are Northern Arizona records from Ganado Lake and from near Chinle, both are almost due north of Luna Lake so this is obviously a Sanderling flyway <grin>.
Other shorebirds present were GREATER YELLOWLEGS and SPOTTED SANDPIPER. Across the lake were a flock of PINYON JAYS and a BALD EAGLE perched in regular tree near the nest site. Continuing on the lake were a WESTERN GREBE and the wayward BROWN PELICAN.
So, my short trip to the White Mountains finished with a flourish. On this trip I focused on riparian areas and lakes looking for migrants. Compared to my last trip that ended two weeks ago, the number of migrants was way down both in terms of species and number of individuals and I ended up with only 89 species in the White Mountains and 119 species overall (see trip list).
I left Luna Lake at 1:40pm and arrived at Willcox just after 5:00pm with an hour of daylight left. The only other birder present turned out to be my next client who had been looking unsuccessfully for the Jaeger. Unless the bird has found a good hiding place, it would appear that it has departed (not seen Sunday, Monday and today).
Even though the temperature was 93 degrees as I approached the main pond, sparrows were quite active near the roadside puddles and I saw LARK, BREWER'S, VESPER and SAVANNAH SPARROWS. While watching the sparrows I noted a chipping VERDIN in a nearby mesquite and was later surprised to discover that it was my first at Willcox!
The number of WILSON'S and RED-NECKED PHALAROPES has dropped dramatically since Monday. Conversely, the number of LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS has risen to as many as 100. On my early morning visit on Monday I recorded 60 species, this afternoon I managed only 32. The only shorebird species present today and not Monday was a lone LONG-BILLED CURLEW.
Friday, September 27, 2002
First of two days with John Hoogerheide from Kerrville, TX. John's ABA list is close to 730 so we'll mostly be doing general birding and working on his AZ list. Today we birded in the Nogales and Patagonia areas. A very pleasant, partly cloudy day with temperatures ranging from 60 to 90 degrees.
The birding at Kino Springs was excellent early this morning and over a 4 hour period starting just before sunrise we recorded 75 species. Another party (Frank Fekel and friends) saw at least 11 species that we didn't see; add to that some common species not seen (e.g. Red-tail, Eastern Meadowlark, etc!) and it's not hard to imagine that 100 species would have been possible with more time and effort, although ducks and warblers were sadly lacking.
Highlights included a stunning, walk-away, eye-level close range look at my latest YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO in SE AZ (of course, my camera was in the car), my earliest CEDAR WAXWING sighting in SE AZ, at least 2 VARIED, several LAZULI and 2 INDIGO BUNTINGS (a male PAINTED was seen by others) and a small flock of LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCHES.
Among the other species were OSPREY, GRAY HAWK, a family of BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING DUCKS (only 6 chicks so they lost some), a bold as brass SORA, COMMON SNIPE, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, BELTED KINGFISHER, RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, GRAY, PACIFIC-SLOPE, VERMILION, DUSKY-CAPPED & ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHERS, BELL'S VIREO, LUCY'S & YELLOW WARBLERS, LINCOLN'S, BREWER'S & VESPER SPARROWS, GREEN-TAILED, ABERT'S & CANYON TOWHEES, BLACK-HEADED & BLUE GROSBEAKS, SUMMER & WESTERN TANAGERS and BULLOCK'S ORIOLE
Driving through Nogales, a GRAY HAWK was circling over highway 82.
The continuing TRICOLORED HERON was easy to see at Palo Duro ponds.
A brief check of the water at Patagonia Lake easily produced the hoped for NEOTROPIC CORMORANTS along with a couple of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS. Also present were another OSPREY, GREAT EGRET and a GREATER YELLOWLEGS that was species #240 for me at the lake (not known for its shorebirds).
The Roadside Rest area was quiet but we did turn up ORANGE-CROWNED and NASHVILLE WARBLERS.
In the Paton's yard we saw 5 species of hummers -- several BROAD-BILLED, VIOLET-CROWNED, a few BLACK-CHINNED and ANNA'S and one young RUFOUS.
Saturday, September 28, 2002
Out again today with John. On a similar weather day to yesterday (partly cloudy; 60 - 90 degrees), we visited French Joe Canyon for a chance at his only lifer of the trip.
Most of my trips to French Joe are timed such that I start hiking as soon as there is enough daylight to do so safely. Of course, this means that the drive into the canyon is in darkness and often produces a COMMON POORWILL sitting in the road, as it did this morning.
There was very little pre-dawn activity as we walked up the canyon -- calling COOPER'S HAWK, MEXICAN JAY, WILSON'S WARBLER and LESSER GOLDFINCHES and a couple of singing HOUSE WRENS.
When we arrived at the upper spring shortly before 7:00am I could hear a RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER singing in the distance .Unlike my last trip a week ago, we only waited a short while near the spring before heading up to the upper waterfall. What followed was a long period of working in a difficult location while tracking the warblers that stayed low and vocalized only occasionally. At one point, two birds were singing vigorously only 10 feet away from us and we couldn't even see a leaf move! I sensed that John was beginning to despair of ever seeing them so I gave him a few words of encouragement and stories of what had happened in the past.
After over 2 hours had elapsed, our patience and persistence were rewarded when both birds finally emerged from the dense vegetation and perched in the clear, one close to me and the other close to John. They sang back and forth to one another as we enjoyed some great views. As I've mentioned before, these birds are definitely not shy, it's just that their ground dwelling habits keep them concealed for much of the time. However, when they do decide to "do their thing" as they did today, it doesn't matter if you are standing close by, they just get on with it anyway.
The canyon certainly didn't appear very birdy today and I was surprised at the total of 38 species. HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER was very noticeable and I figured there were at least 3 individuals, a couple of which called. The only other flycatchers were a singing CORDILLERAN (that interacted with a Hammond's a couple of times) and a SAY'S PHOEBE.
PINYON JAYS continue in the upper canyon -- although I only saw one, there is certainly a small flock present and we heard them several times while working on the warbler. Also present in the upper canyon were a flock of over 20 BAND-TAILED PIGEONS, a calling CRISSAL THRASHER and a small group of WHITE-THROATED SWIFTS that were a nice surprise. Although they breed in the canyon, they usually leave around mid July and today's sighting was my first here since that time.
Hummingbirds were suddenly common (I didn't record a single species here last week) with ANNA'S being the most numerous, a couple each of BLACK-CHINNED and RUFOUS, one male COSTA'S and one female CALLIOPE (that perched just 2 feet from me!).
Activity was close to zero by the time we reached the lower oaks and the only birds noted were a RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, a group of BRIDLED TITMICE and a CASSIN'S VIREO.
We recorded the following 38 species:
Cooper's Hawk, Band-tailed Pigeon, Common Poorwill, White-throated Swift, Black-chinned, Anna's, Costa's, Calliope & Rufous Hummingbirds, Red-naped Sapsucker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Hammond's & Cordilleran Flycatchers, Say's Phoebe, Western Scrub-Jay, Pinyon & Mexican Jays, Hutton's & Cassin's Vireos, Crissal Thrasher, White-breasted Nuthatch, Rock, Canyon, Bewick's & House Wrens, Bushtit, Bridled Titmouse, Lesser Goldfinch, House Finch, Orange-crowned, Wilson's & Rufous-capped Warblers, Chipping, Black-throated & Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Spotted & Canyon Towhees and Hepatic Tanager.
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The last update was on Saturday, September 28, 2002
Journal - September, 2002
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