Oct. Species Seen
Journal - October, 2006
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The last update was on Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Sunday, October 1, 2006
Today I visited Sawmill Canyon for a final (and unsuccessful) check on Buff-breasted Flycatcher for this season. Not only did I not find a flycatcher, I found very few birds compared to recent visits. Even though overnight lows in the mountains remain very mild and there's an abundance of water and insects, the birds are moving out. This tells me that most migratory breeders leave on (or close to) a specific date regardless of weather conditions; and that generally, only the short distance migrants will linger if conditions are favorable (something that happens regularly with some species).
I started at Garden Canyon fishing ponds where the mosquitoes quickly chased me away. This has been a good place for Lawrence's Goldfinch in recent years and I was hopeful. I've only received one report in SE AZ so far this season and all that I found today was LESSER GOLDFINCH. Apart from several LINCOLN'S SPARROWS, I didn't see any other wintering sparrows. MALLARD, COOT, BLACK PHOEBE and HOUSE WREN were the only other species that I noted.
The only sparrow vocalizing in the mesquite-grassland was a single RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW. Other species noted here were COOPER'S HAWK, an immature NORTHERN HARRIER, a couple of KESTRELS, LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER, several CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS and SAY'S PHOEBES, PHAINOPEPLA and CANYON TOWHEE.
Conditions in Sawmill today were extremely calm, sunny and clear and mild to warm. I managed less than 20 species (about 10 less than a week ago) and a big fat zero on migrant warblers. I was hoping for an early Williamson's Sapsucker that typically does not arrive in the Huachucas until October Week 2 at the earliest. No success with that.
Highlights were GREATER ROADRUNNER, 2 ARIZONA WOODPECKERS, 2 RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS, a few EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE and 3 HEPATIC TANAGERS.
Although GREATER ROADRUNNER is a scarce breeder (and possible resident) in Sawmill, I usually only detect this species when it is singing in spring. I picked one up today (one of my few fall records for the canyon) because I heard its "bill-clapping" noise.
The distribution of bluebirds in southeast Arizona is quite interesting and very much depends on the mountain range. In the Huachucas, Eastern Bluebird is the breeding species and Western is a wintering bird (normally arriving in late October, although I have a few Week 2 and 3 records from various Huachuca Canyons). EASTERN BLUEBIRD is a resident and regular breeder in Sawmill and I have a total of 209 records from every month and 11 of the last 14 years. However, this species has declined significantly in recent years and today was my first sighting in the canyon since September 2005. I'm seeing a similar decline in Carr Canyon where it was formerly uncommon and regular.
Mitigating my failure to detect a late Buff-breasted Flycatcher or an early Williamson's Sapsucker was my first of season TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE. The bird was silent and well concealed as it worked the mistletoe clumps in a juniper. I see them uncommonly in Sawmill during October, November and December and then rarely in March through early May. I'm not sure why they bail in January and February when I have zero records (sure, it's cold, but they winter in other cold places). Today's sighting extends my previous early date in the canyon (October 4, 2002) by a few days.
A slow morning to get October underway.
44 species recorded:
Mallard, Turkey Vulture, N. Harrier, Cooper's & Red-tailed Hawks, Am. Kestrel, Am. Coot, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Acorn, Ladder-backed & Arizona Woodpeckers, Red-naped Sapsucker, N. Flicker, Black & Say's Phoebes, Cassin's Kingbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Phainopepla, Bewick's & House Wrens, Curve-billed Thrasher, Eastern Bluebird, Townsend's Solitaire, Bushtit, Bridled Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Verdin, Steller's & Mexican Jays, Chihuahuan & Common Ravens, House Sparrow, Hutton's Vireo, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Hepatic Tanager, Rufous-crowned, Chipping & Lincoln's Sparrows and Great-tailed Grackle.
Earlier this year, when it became clear that I would have to return my Swarovski EL 10 x 42 binocular for service, I purchased a Bushnell NatureView Plus 8 x 42. Having been (ab)used almost daily since March 2002, the EL 10 x 42 has developed a number of problems and is generally in very poor physical condition. The diopter adjustment is busted, the focus adjustment is very stiff and the pull-out eyecups no longer operate properly. On Friday, I finally got around to shipping the EL to Swarovski for repair (and a retrofit to the current, faster focusing model).
Although I've had the NatureView since July, today was my first opportunity to use the Bushnell binocular under normal field conditions. Let me precede the following comments by first stating the obvious. We're not comparing apples to apples here because there's a price difference of more than 10x between the EL and NatureView (for which I paid ~$100, delivered, from Binoculars.com). Consequently, it would be unreasonable to expect the same (or even similar) optical performance and robustness. I purchased this model because I had a short term need and the price was right. I only expect to use the NatureView for a few weeks then I'll probably leave it in the car as a spare. To be clear, I'm not suggesting that anyone seriously consider the NatureView as their primary binocular.
Immediate and startling differences were the "clunkiness" of The NatureView (a Porro prism) after using Roof prism for so long; and the reduced magnification of 8 versus 10X. Prior to the owning the Swarovski EL 10 x 42, I'd only used 8X and I remember that it took me quite a while to get used to birds looking significantly bigger. Now I have to do the same thing in reverse (hopefully, though, only for three weeks).
Optically, I was quite pleased. The image is very bright and I didn't notice any obvious signs of chromatic aberration during limited use. Close focus distance seemed to be around 8 feet (not measured accurately). Focus is smooth and noticeably very much faster than the Swarovski EL. [The older EL is extremely slow and requires plenty of focus wheel turning for close and middle distance use. I'm hoping for great things after the retrofit.] The NatureView eyecups are too sensitive and I today I found them "pushed in" on several occasions when I lifted them to my eyes. Since the eyecups need to be turned to push them in, I can only assume that they were catching against my clothes, perhaps as I used my camera.
Not a terrible experience but I can't wait to get the EL back in my hands!
Tuesday, October 3, 2006
Today I started in San Rafael Valley then spent some time in the Patagonia Mountains before checking Kino Springs, Patagonia Roadside Rest Area and finishing up in Marion Paton's yard. After a cool start in the valley, it was a fairly warm day under thin, patchy clouds and it doesn't feel much like fall yet. Hopefully, the usual mid October cool down will happen on time.
I left home in darkness for the one hour journey to San Rafael Valley and arrived at the west end of FR 58 at 6:15am. Sparrow activity began with the sun at 6:30am and continued on and off until 7:30am (no further activity for the next 30 minutes and I left at 8:00am). Compared to my first visit of the season on September 21, sparrow activity was greatly reduced and I was thankful that my early morning effort once again paid dividends with a single BAIRD'S SPARROW. Not for the first time at this location, GRASSHOPPER SPARROW was the most common species (~20 seen, mostly adults) and they even outnumbered SAVANNAH and VESPER SPARROWS.
I was happy to see WESTERN MEADOWLARK and CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR back in the valley (I detected neither on September 21). A couple of WHITE-TAILED KITES were again perched in Agaves on Meadow Valley Flat road and could be seen from FR 58. They departed at 6:45am.
I left the valley and headed down Harshaw Canyon Road well satisfied even though I'd only seen 16 species. Other than MEXICAN JAYS and CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS, there wasn't much activity on the canyon road. However, the road to Harshaw was quite birdy with EASTERN BLUEBIRDS being particularly conspicuous (vocal and present in multiple locations along the road).
The old Harshaw townsite was loaded with birds, no doubt attracted by the gently flowing creek and lots of weedy habitat. BLUE GROSBEAKS and LAZULI BUNTINGS were both common -- all were juveniles and females. A few singing WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were present. Highlights for me were an extremely vocal HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER working high in a sycamore, several HEPATIC TANAGERS and a singing SCOTT'S ORIOLE.
I backtracked down the canyon to Patagonia then headed to Kino Springs. It was already warm when I arrived at 9:30am and I my expectations were not great. I worked the club house pond first then checked the first pond second (confused?). I left at 11:00am having seen a respectable 50 species.
I missed GRAY HAWK on my last visit so I was pleased to find a very vocal adult at the first pond today (I was some distance from the bird so the image isn't great). Look how the bird was seemingly doing its best to stay cool by facing away from me yet keeping a wary eye on me. A priceless moment. You had to be there.
Wintering waterfowl continue to stay away in droves. The only ducks that I saw were BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK and CINNAMON TEAL, both singletons. GREEN HERON and SORA were at both ponds. Migrants and/or wintering species noted were a singing PLUMBEOUS VIREO, NASHVILLE WARBLER, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, LINCOLN'S SPARROW and a few BLUE GROSBEAKS & LAZULI BUNTINGS. I usually don't see Nashville and Black-headed Grosbeaks after the first week of October.
A few VERMILION FLYCATCHERS continue (one or two normally winter here). Other species included a juvenile COOPER'S HAWK, a bill-clapping GREATER ROADRUNNER, several COMMON GROUND-DOVES, RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER (first pond hackberry grove), many BARN SWALLOWS, MARSH WREN (both ponds), lots of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS and a few LARK SPARROWS.
Marion Paton's yard was on the quiet side during my stay from 11:30am-1:00pm. Highlight was a singing CASSIN'S VIREO, a new yard bird for me. Hummingbird activity from four species was sporadic, especially after I set up my camera. In decreasing order of abundance I noted ANNA'S (common; male, female & immature), several BROAD-BILLED (male, female & immature) several female/immature BLACK-CHINNED and 2 VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRDS.
One, possibly two GRAY HAWKS called nearby. ACORN & GILA WOODPECKERS came by occasionally. WHITE-WINGED DOVES were the only common species and the only winter species that I noted was LINCOLN'S SPARROW.
On the drive home, EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES were at the 82/83 intersection in
Sonoita. A brief stop at Las Cienegas was unproductive.
84 species recorded:
Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Mallard, Cinnamon Teal, Turkey Vulture, White-tailed Kite, N. Harrier, Cooper's & Gray Hawks, Am. Kestrel, Gambel's Quail, Sora, Am. Coot, Killdeer, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning, White-winged & Inca Doves, Common Ground-Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Broad-billed, Violet-crowned, Black-chinned & Anna's Hummingbirds, Acorn & Gila Woodpeckers, Red-naped Sapsucker, N. Flicker, Hammond's & Vermilion Flycatchers, Black & Say's Phoebes, Cassin's & Western Kingbirds, Horned Lark, Barn Swallow, Rock, Bewick's, House & Marsh Wrens, Curve-billed Thrasher, Eastern Bluebird, Bridled Titmouse, Verdin, Mexican Jay, Chihuahuan & Common Ravens, European Starling, House Sparrow, Plumbeous, Cassin's & Hutton's Vireos, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Nashville & Yellow-rumped Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Hepatic Tanager, Green-tailed & Canyon Towhees, Rufous-crowned, Rufous-winged, Chipping, Vesper, Lark, Savannah, Baird's, Grasshopper, Song, Lincoln's & White-crowned Sparrows, Chestnut-collared Longspur, N. Cardinal, Black-headed & Blue Grosbeaks, Lazuli Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern & Western Meadowlarks, Great-tailed Grackle and Scott's Oriole.
Wednesday, October 4, 2006
Today I visited Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area at the south end of Sulphur Springs Valley. Compared to my visit last week on September 26, the water level is ever so slightly lower but there's still a vast expanse of (mostly unoccupied) water. Although wintering waterfowl diversity has increased, the number of individuals is still low and I had to work to pick out distant birds on the far (west) shoreline. In fact, one of the laws of birding is that the good ducks are usually on the furthest pond. Shorebird activity was much better today than last week. Conditions were very good -- a mild to warm morning with patchy clouds; completely calm early becoming windy in the afternoon.
LESSER NIGHTHAWK on Charleston Road in Sierra Vista was a good start to the day (seen at 5:40am near Moson Road). They are very thin on the ground in SE AZ at this time of year and I only have 7 records in October. My latest sighting was on October 20, 2003 in Sierra Vista.
'Tis almost that season again in the valley. I started down Coffman Road at sunrise (6:20am) hoping for perhaps a minor SANDHILL CRANE show. I heard what sounded like just a few birds but couldn't see them. There was a report of 10 birds on October 1 (my earliest sighting remains September 17, 2002). A few weeks from now there'll be many thousands.
A few new waterfowl species have arrived at Whitewater Draw and species previously present have increased in numbers. I noted 6 PIED-BILLED GREBES, 10+ EARED GREBES, 8 GADWALL, 12 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 40 MALLARDS, 20 NORTHERN SHOVELERS, 1 male REDHEAD, 6 RING-NECKED DUCKS (3 males, 3 females) and 20 RUDDY DUCKS. I missed Cinnamon Teal.
The only heron I saw today was (presumably) the same continuing GREAT EGRET (missed Great Blue, Green Heron and Black-crowned Night-Heron).
Given the limited access to shorebird habit, the shorebird showing was quite reasonable (who knows what is actually out there in places without any access). Pick of the bunch was a lone SNOWY PLOVER, always a treat in Arizona. The bird was on a small spit along the east shoreline. I was on the end of the berm that leads to the north viewing platform (this berm currently peters out due to high water). I was looking northeast and still some 200 yards south of the plover.
Over the past 14 years I've accumulated 11 Snowy Plover records in Arizona; 9 in Cochise County with today's sighting (previous 8 were at Willcox). This was a new Whitewater Draw location species for me (#199) and my latest sighting date for Arizona. Nice to kill two (mile) stones with one bird! [I had picked up species #198 a short while earlier when I saw 4 EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES hanging out in the willows. They are regular on nearby Coffman Road but this is the first time that I've actually seen them within my "official" Whitewater Draw measurement area (west side of Coffman, 1 mile south of Davis).] Anyone care to guess what #200 will be? (here's my current list).
Also present were 15 WHITE-FACED IBIS, 1 AMERICAN AVOCET, too many KILLDEER (can't sneak up on anything when these noisy buggers are around); 13 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS, 4 SPOTTED, 6 WESTERN and 100+ LEAST SANDPIPERS.
Among the continuing species were 4 SWAINSON'S HAWKS (this individual was in the dead tree in the yard of the HQ building); several CASSIN'S and many WESTERN KINGBIRDS; thousands of TREE SWALLOWS and several hundred BARN SWALLOWS. I scanned 'til my eyes watered but I couldn't pick out another swallow species.
The only other landbird migrant that I noted was ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER.
Wintering and/or resident species included 4+ NORTHERN HARRIERS (no adult males), PEREGRINE FALCON, 2 GREAT HORNED OWLS, several VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, CURVE-BILLED THRASHER & BENDIRE'S THRASHER (sharing space in the same tree as the Swainson's Hawk), several HOUSE WRENS, one MARSH WREN, 50+ LARK BUNTINGS, fairly low numbers of BREWER'S, VESPER, SAVANNAH & WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, 50+ YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS and 10 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS (scarce at this location).
Marsh Wren was a slight surprise. Although Whitewater Draw is a regular wintering location for this species, habitat for them is minimal this year due to high water and I thought they may not put in an appearance. The bird was in the willows -- time will tell if it sticks around and is joined by more. Peregrine is scarce at this location; today's bird was a juvenile anatum.
65 species recorded (57 at WWD, italics not at WWD):
Pied-billed & Eared Grebes, Great Egret, White-faced Ibis, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, N. Shoveler, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck, Turkey Vulture, N. Harrier, Swainson's & Red-tailed Hawks, Peregrine Falcon, Gambel's Quail, Sandhill Crane, Am. Coot, Am. Avocet, Killdeer, Snowy Plover, Long-billed Dowitcher, Spotted, Western & Least Sandpipers, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Great Horned Owl, Lesser Nighthawk, Gila Woodpecker, N. Flicker, Black & Say's Phoebes, Vermilion Flycatcher, Cassin's & Western Kingbirds, Tree & Barn Swallows, Cactus, House & Marsh Wrens, N. Mockingbird, Bendire's & Curve-billed Thrashers, Verdin, Loggerhead Shrike, Chihuahuan Raven, House Sparrow, House Finch, Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Green-tailed Towhee, Lark Bunting, Brewer's, Vesper, Savannah, Song & White-crowned Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlark, Red-winged & Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Great-tailed Grackle and Brown-headed Cowbird.
Friday, October 6, 2006
Conditions were a little grim as I headed into the Huachucas this morning. Yesterday was wet and windy at times and today began very cloudy with light rain. I managed a few rain free hours until a thunderstorm and heavy rain stopped play in Sawmill Canyon. It's just not cricket. I ventured out again in mid afternoon to Sierra Vista EOP where wind and rain once again chased me away. A stormy day that might blow in something good.
Before heading up to Sawmill, I checked Garden Canyon fishing pond and the lower grassland without seeing anything of note. WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS have increased in number. Fall foliage note: although deciduous vegetation in the lower part of Garden is still mostly green, impressive colors are starting to show at higher elevation -- reds from the maples and yellow-orange from cottonwoods, sycamores and willows.
I was taken by surprise by a calling CASSIN'S KINGBIRD when I began birding in Sawmill at 7:30am. Cassin's is regular as a breeder in the canyon then normally moves to lower elevation by mid August. I only have a couple of September sightings and none at all after that until today. They are still fairly easy to find at lower elevation through early November and then become sparse through the end of November.
A dramatic increase in the number of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS and, to a much lesser extent, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS signaled a change to fall mode in the canyon. The presence of AMERICAN ROBINS also emphasized this. Robins can usually be found in Sawmill all year but I haven't seen any recently. Today they were present in numbers. Other thrush family members were EASTERN BLUEBIRD, several TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRES and HERMIT THRUSH. The number of wintering DARK-EYED JUNCOS has also increased (I only found Gray-headed).
|Photo note: I'm continually and slowly learning about photography as a student at the school of hard knocks (story of my life, really). This somewhat cooperative YELLOW-EYED JUNCO offered a decent photo opportunity and a chance to learn some more, but I certainly had to be patient. Cooperative in that it stayed in the same place and allowed close approach. Uncooperative in terms of not sitting still and staying in a dark location (as if the cloudy day wasn't bad enough). I was able to get very close to the bird (must have been less than 11 feet since I couldn't focus and had to back up). This was about the most confiding bird that I've ever encountered and it seemed totally unconcerned by my presence as it sat on the same branch for what seemed like an age. Consequently, I had time to fiddle with the camera and over a period of 25 minutes I shot almost 100 images. At such close range, (lack of) depth of field is a big problem. I switched to aperture mode to improve this but the bad light made it especially difficult. No such thing as a free lunch. Cranking up the ISO helped. I got a fair number of decent images despite the bad light and chose this slightly unusual pose to publish as the bird preened. I ended up with a shutter speed of only 1/160s at f/14 and ISO 800. The image stabilizer did its thing though.|
HEPATIC TANAGERS continue and I noted about 6 of them today including an adult male. Their "chup" call notes make them easy to detect. Apart from the plentiful Yellow-rumps, a single TOWNSEND'S WARBLER was the only warbler I found.
Woodpeckers are my winter focus in Sawmill and my main objective for the day was to confirm the return of WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER. I was successful in that endeavor -- in fact, judging by the number of sapwells that have been opened up in a regularly used tree, at least one bird has been back for a few days; probably right after I checked last Sunday! I also noted the usual ARIZONA WOODPECKERS and NORTHERN FLICKERS. Missed Red-naped Sapsucker. Best bird was a HAIRY WOODPECKER since they can barely be considered regular in Sawmill (they tend to frequent higher elevation locations).
After a drizzly and breezy start, conditions in the canyon steadily improved -- for a while. At 10:00am, I heard distant thunder that rapidly came closer as dark clouds rolled in. The heavens opened at 10:15am and since I was a mile from the car, I was really concerned about keeping my expensive camera and lens dry; not so concerned about my current el cheapo binocular. I was completely soaked by the time I got underway at 10:30am. 24 species recorded.
The rain had eased off by the time I reached the grassland and I decided to stop at Lower Garden Canyon Pond. Note: This is not the "fishing pond" that I checked earlier. In fact, it's a non-fishing pond located on the Aerostat road that I don't visit very often. Unlike the fishing ponds, the habitat here is very good for seedeaters at the moment and I found lots of BLUE GROSBEAKS (immatures and females) and LESSER GOLDFINCHES. No sign of Lawrence's which was the reason I checked. Other stuff included HOUSE WREN, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW.
When I got home around noon, I was shocked to find that UPS had attempted to deliver my EL 10x42 from Swarovski. My shipment had been received by them on Wednesday at 9:00am and here it is only Friday. Now that's some pretty speedy service! As far as I can tell, I have a brand new unit. More later.
I managed about 45 minutes at a very stormy Sierra Vista EOP in mid afternoon. Wind was a problem and visibility was very poor. The highlight was seeing many hundreds (thousands?) of YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS take flight as a NORTHERN HARRIER cruised over the marsh. In fact, the harrier was completely enveloped by the blackbirds. Just a few minutes later, the harrier put down in the middle of a bunch of MEXICAN MALLARDS and they didn't even flinch (and I mean on the ground, right in the middle of the flock of ducks).
BARN and TREE SWALLOWS battled the wind. Many SORAS called from the marsh where MARSH WRENS chattered. Several SAY'S PHOEBES looked pretty forlorn sitting on the fence wires. I heard the "chewp" calls of WESTERN MEADOWLARKS, back in the surrounding fields for the winter. Then it rained hard and I departed.
63 species recorded:
Green-winged Teal, Mallard, N. Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Am. Kestrel, Sora, Am. Coot, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Williamson's Sapsucker, Ladder-backed, Hairy & Arizona Woodpeckers, N. Flicker, Black & Say's Phoebes, Cassin's & Western Kingbirds, Tree & Barn Swallows, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Phainopepla, Bewick's, House & Marsh Wrens, Curve-billed Thrasher, Eastern Bluebird, Townsend's Solitaire, Hermit Thrush, Am, Robin, Bushtit, Bridled Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Verdin, Loggerhead Shrike, Steller's & Mexican Jays, Chihuahuan & Common Ravens, European Starling, House Sparrow, Hutton's Vireo, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped & Townsend's Warblers, Hepatic Tanager, Canyon Towhee, Rufous-crowned, Chipping, Vesper & White-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed & Yellow-eyed Juncos, Blue Grosbeak, Eastern & Western Meadowlarks, Red-winged, Yellow-headed & Brewer's Blackbirds and Great-tailed Grackle.
Sunday, October 8, 2006
This morning I joined the regular Sunday morning outing at Sierra Vista Environmental Operations Park (EOP), something that I haven't done since last November. The start time wasn't until a rather late 8:00am which is probably designed to maximize the number of participants rather than to maximize the birding opportunities (sunrise is currently about 6:20am). Fortunately, it was a cool morning. Early conditions were good with mostly clear skies and light wind; becoming cloudy and quite breezy by mid morning. The temperature at departure time (10:20am) was only 73 degrees. Thunder and rain by midday.
In terms of diversity, October is the best birding month at the EOP. Since 1993, I've seen 130 species during October which is a significant number compared to my cumulative total of 192 species. April and November are the next best months with 114 and 108 species respectively.
All members of the heron family are scarce at the EOP so to see three species on the same day is certainly noteworthy. Even the ubiquitous GREAT BLUE HERON has to be considered rare here. Add 2 GREAT EGRETS and a CATTLE EGRET, both of which are even less common, and you've got an unusual day. A quick look at my EOP bar graph will tell you that October is the best month to see all of them. It's reassuring for a data freak like me to know that stats don't lie over time.
Raptors were not particularly evident for a while but the final reckoning was reasonable. TURKEY VULTURES drifting south were perhaps the most noticeable along with several (3-4) soaring SWAINSON'S HAWKS that will shortly be gone (I have zero records here after mid month). A couple of NORTHERN HARRIERS, a juvenile COOPER'S HAWK, RED-TAILED HAWKS and a few KESTRELS rounded out the list.
Sandpiper habitat is minimal and, guess what, so were sandpipers. A couple of SPOTTED SANDPIPERS and one, possibly two GREATER YELLOWLEGS were the only birds seen. A lone WHITE-FACED IBIS was noted flying around a few times.
In keeping with what I'm seeing elsewhere, duck diversity and numbers were low (southbound ducks seem somewhat tardy this year, perhaps taking advantage of mild conditions further north). I noted 6-8 AMERICAN WIGEON, ~12 GREEN-WINGED TEAL, 20-30 CINNAMON TEAL and ~20 SHOVELERS in addition to the resident MALLARDS (many) and RUDDY DUCKS (only a few seen).
The sound of SORAS was constant throughout the morning and there must be lots of them in the various marshy ponds. VIRGINIA RAILS are far less common and I only heard two or three. MARSH WRENS were plentiful.
WESTERN KINGBIRDS outnumbered CASSIN'S which is always the case at this location. I saw a few HORNED LARKS and a couple of AMERICAN PIPITS. Winter sparrow numbers were fairly low -- just a few SAVANNAH and VESPER along with ~10 migrant LARK SPARROWS.
Blackbirds of various flavors were present with YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS being the most common (by far) along with decent numbers of BREWER'S BLACKBIRDS.
The least common bird of the day was (drum roll please) a lone NORTHERN FLICKER flying over the marsh, only my third record for the EOP.
As I mentioned on Friday, I received my EL 10 x 42 back from Swarovski -- an amazing two day turnaround time from receipt in Rhode Island on Wednesday morning back to my door on Friday. Even though it may actually be a refurbished unit, the binocular is for all intents and purposes "brand new". I'd be shocked to learn that I have received the same unit that I returned (that would mean it only took a day to refurbish). In addition to the (no charge) repairs needed, I invested $279 in a fast focus retrofit.
My old unit was really beat up and it was a delight to use my "new" binocular for the first time this morning. Swarovski optics are well known for their image quality, but the slow focusing speed of the old unit was a real drag and resulted in many lost opportunities because I couldn't get on the bird quickly enough. No more -- the focus operation is now fast and super smooth and the image is flawless. Tick, VG for Swarovski (Britspeak for kudos).
The bottom line is that after using the old unit for almost 5 years (for which I originally paid around $1300), I've now got a new unit for $279. Today's price is around $1850 -- yikes. I can't imagine ever paying that much for a binocular. However, I guess it's like most things in life, you get what you pay for.
49 species recorded at Sierra Vista EOP:
Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, White-faced Ibis, Am. Wigeon, Green-winged & Cinnamon Teal, Mallard, N. Shoveler, Ruddy Duck, Turkey Vulture, N. Harrier, Cooper's, Swainson's & Red-tailed Hawks, Am. Kestrel, Virginia Rail, Sora, Am. Coot, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, N. Flicker, Black & Say's Phoebes, Cassin's & Western Kingbirds, Horned Lark, Barn Swallow, Am. Pipit, Marsh Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, Loggerhead Shrike, Chihuahuan Raven, European Starling, House Sparrow, House Finch, Common Yellowthroat, Vesper, Lark & Savannah Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlark, Red-winged, Yellow-headed & Brewer's Blackbirds, Great-tailed Grackle and Brown-headed Cowbird.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
I've been stuck at home for a couple of days writing code. Monday was a wet and dreary day so I didn't feel so bad about that. Yesterday was better, as was today. This morning I visited the San Pedro followed by Sierra Vista EOP. A mostly sunny morning ranging from the low 50s to 75 degrees by midday. Weather I can live with.
About 10 CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS were the only conspicuous species near the San Pedro House around 7:00am and it took quite a while for activity to build. Apart from common GREEN-TAILED TOWHEES and abundant LINCOLN'S SPARROWS, winter species continue to be in short supply. I noted small flocks of WHITE-CROWNED and BREWER'S SPARROWS and missed Vesper completely.
I headed down to Kingfisher Pond where I hung around for a while just watching the comings and goings. As Yogi reportedly said, "you can see a lot just by observing". Best bird was a (possible juvenile) female GREEN KINGFISHER that was present on the east side of the pond. Although I was really too far from the bird for detailed photos, I salvaged a couple of below par efforts (GKIN image #1, GKIN image #2). In addition to keeping its distance from me, the bird preened the entire time that I observed it from 8:15 to 8:45am. I was interested to see what the bird would do when a noisy BELTED KINGFISHER flew in and landed very close. Well, nothing happened, the Green Kingfisher didn't even bother to look up and continued to preen.
Other behavior notes: A laid back GREEN HERON stayed put and simply followed me warily with its eyes. Not so a GREAT BLUE HERON that flew off with disdain and a that discordant croak that they make. BLACK PHOEBE and VERMILION FLYCATCHER were definitely not getting along and I witnessed some argy-bargy a few times. I spooked a flock of ducks that I could count (28) but couldn't identify.
Species near the end of their stay included GRAY HAWK (whining away on the east side of the river), a single WESTERN KINGBIRD, a calling SUMMER TANAGER and a female BLUE GROSBEAK. Among the more or less resident species present were a few WHITE-WINGED DOVES and 2 (singing) COMMON GROUND-DOVES. Resident ABERT'S TOWHEES were very common, PYRRHULOXIAS were scarce.
Migrants and/or wintering species were far from plentiful -- I noted quite a few ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRDS, 1 (singing) PLUMBEOUS VIREO, 1 ORANGE-CROWNED and 6 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS and 6+ LAZULI BUNTINGS. 42 species in all.
Kingbird activity at Sierra Vista EOP was exactly the opposite to the river and I noted 15 WESTERN KINGBIRDS and just one CASSIN'S KINGBIRD. At least one GREAT EGRET continues in the marsh. VIRGINIA RAILS were more common (or at least more vocal) today compared to Sunday. The only new duck that I noted was GADWALL. A couple of NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRDS represented the least common species (uncommon and regular at the EOP in summer, much scarcer outside of that period).
I was hoping to confirm that Swainson's Hawks were still present but I wasn't able to do that. The only raptors that I saw were several soaring RED-TAILS, a HARRIER sitting in the marsh, probably the same juvenile COOPER'S HAWK seen at the weekend; and a few KESTRELS. No Peregrine & Prairie Falcons or Merlin, all of which should be around regularly quite soon. 28 species in all.
63 species recorded:
Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Green Heron, Am. Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Green-winged & Cinnamon Teal, Turkey Vulture, N. Harrier, Cooper's, Gray & Red-tailed Hawks, Am. Kestrel, Virginia Rail, Sora, Am. Coot, Rock Pigeon, Mourning & White-winged Doves, Common Ground-Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Belted & Green Kingfishers, Gila & Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, N. Flicker, Black & Say's Phoebes, Vermilion Flycatcher, Cassin's & Western Kingbirds, Barn Swallow, Bewick's, House & Marsh Wrens, N. Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, Verdin, Loggerhead Shrike, Chihuahuan Raven, European Starling, House Sparrow, Plumbeous Vireo, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Summer Tanager, Green-tailed & Abert's Towhees, Brewer's, Song, Lincoln's & White-crowned Sparrows, Pyrrhuloxia, Blue Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Red-winged, Yellow-headed & Brewer's Blackbirds and Great-tailed Grackle.
Friday, October 13, 2006
On a glorious fall morning, I visited Garden and Sawmill Canyons in the Huachucas. Just a slight chill early on then it was sunny, calm and mild. Not a lot of birds but the quality was as good as the fall colors. I hadn't realized it was Friday the 13th until I was driving along Fry Blvd this morning. Thirteenth, smerteenth, I laugh at you, ha ha ha; in the style of those annoying perfume ads that will be upon us soon. I did okay despite the date.
It must be fall, the GREAT-TAILED GRACKLES are back on my roof and CHIHUAHUAN RAVENS are festooned on the light poles on Fry Boulevard. WHITE-WINGED DOVES were also on Fry this morning which is not usual at this time of year (although I see them in the neighborhoods throughout the winter)
Lower Garden Canyon grassland was devoid of birds so I proceeded at a faster than normal pace to Sawmill. I heard about 8 species on the way with only HEPATIC TANAGER of note.
I deliberately started later than normal to give the sun a chance to hit the bottom of the canyon and I didn't arrive until 7:30am. As I stepped out of my trusty trogon, I thought I heard the alarm call of an Elegant Trogon. Unfortunately, I was making noise at the time and couldn't be sure. I may have been right though, see later.
Water levels are diminishing but there was still far more than normal in all locations that I visited today. I started by working the sunny areas low in the canyon where I had some early success with RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER in a cottonwood near the cabin. A couple of MONTEZUMA QUAIL and then a fly over NORTHERN GOSHAWK followed in short order. Maybe I was having a reverse Friday 13.
Most years, I'm lucky if I stumble into a Goshawk once or twice a year. I have 10 records for Sawmill and half of those are in October and November. I remember being in the canyon in November about 10 years ago when I encountered a perched bird at eye level. We eyeballed each other for 10 minutes before I moved on. That was long before my camera days.
As is the case every October, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS are now at epidemic proportions. Had I been carrying a butterfly net, I could have bagged lots of them with one swipe. Incidentally, butterflies are still fairly common and they were active early today. Arizona Sister is by far the most common but I also noted a few Pine -- mostly white males and a few orange females (I think). Butterfly people feel free to correct me as I step out of my field of expertise.
For the season, I had a decent warbler morning with 4-6 (resident) OLIVE WARBLERS, 3 TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS and 2 HERMIT WARBLERS. Townsend's typically continue in Sawmill longer than Hermit which is just about done at this location. I've never found a Hermit in the canyon after October 19th, whereas I have a couple of November records and even one December record for Townsend's. The warblers were with mixed species flocks, of which I encountered three with the usual titmice, kinglets, vireos, creepers, etc.
Apart from the warblers, the only migrant that I came across was HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER. Hammond's is an annual and uncommon migrant in Sawmill and is significantly more common in spring. Approximately 75% of my Sawmill records (34 of 46) are from April and May.
ARIZONA WOODPECKERS were noisy and conspicuous and easy to track down. HEPATIC TANAGER numbers are down a little (I heard 4 or 5 of them). I missed Williamson's Sapsucker which was my main target for the day. I waited 30 minutes at a regular sapwell tree that was dripping with sap but didn't get my reward. It didn't seem to matter though since goshawk, quail and warblers were probably a fair overall reward for my efforts.
However, there was still a little more to come. I was about 1/2 mile below Sawmill driving down Garden Canyon road when, this time, I definitely heard the unmistakable clucking sound that is the alarm call of an ELEGANT TROGON. As it turns out, the trogon was very close to the road in some lush streamside vegetation and I saw it fly as I went by. I found a place to park then walked back to look for the bird. I spotted it after about 10 minutes of searching when its alarm call gave it away again. Unfortunately, it was on a steep hillside and partially obscured. I could tell that it was a male (green back) but could only see a hint of red from my viewing angle. It could have been an immature male although I think the back color was too solid green for an immature bird at this time of year (see notes and images of an immature male seen in almost the same location on October 30, 2004).
A routine morning that turned out to be better than expected. Definitely a case of quality over quantity.
44 species recorded:
Turkey Vulture, Cooper's Hawk, N. Goshawk, Am. Kestrel, Montezuma Quail, Rock Pigeon, Mourning & White-winged Doves, Elegant Trogon, Red-naped Sapsucker, Arizona Woodpecker, N. Flicker, Hammond's Flycatcher, Cassin's Kingbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Phainopepla, Bewick's Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, Hermit Thrush, Bushtit, Bridled Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Verdin, Steller's & Mexican Jays, Chihuahuan & Common Ravens, European Starling, House Sparrow, Hutton's Vireo, House Finch, Olive, Yellow-rumped, Townsend's & Hermit Warblers, Hepatic Tanager, Chipping & Vesper Sparrows, Dark-eyed & Yellow-eyed Juncos, Pyrrhuloxia, Eastern Meadowlark and Great-tailed Grackle.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
This morning I briefly checked a couple of ponds in Garden Canyon then joined the regular Sunday tour at Sierra Vista EOP. The day began partly cloudy and quite cool (40 degrees in Garden Canyon) and never really warmed up. Clouds increased and light rain fell as I left the EOP at 10:30am with the temperature still only 57 degrees. This would suit me every day.
CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS greeted me as I left home -- they seem to move into my neighborhood every year at this time, just prior to their departure.
Even though there wasn't much of a window between enough light for birding (~6:30am) and the EOP tour at 8:00am, I made an effort to drive to Garden Canyon to check again for those pesky Lawrence's Goldfinches (again without success). This is an interesting species in that it irrupts eastward in some winters from its California home territory. Those irruptions seem to occur every other year. Many were present in AZ in 2004; last year almost none were present. The early signs are that 2006 will be a good winter for them -- there have been numerous reports from points north and east of Sierra Vista (the earliest sighting I am aware of was from Amado around September 19). Interestingly, lower Garden Canyon had lots of them in October of 2004 but so far nada. I'll stick at it though!.
I checked the fishing ponds and lower Garden pond. LESSER GOLDFINCHES haven't been common around the ponds so seeing a number of those was encouraging. Species noted as I quickly did the rounds included a couple of PIED-BILLED GREBES, GILA & LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKERS, BLACK PHOEBE, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, a band of MEXICAN JAYS a little further down canyon than normal, numerous YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, LINCOLN'S SPARROW and EASTERN & WESTERN MEADOWLARKS.
The second bird that I saw at the EOP was a new location species -- HOUSE WREN (#193). I like to check the road that parallels highway 90 (the road that used to lead to the old viewing platform). There's lots of scrubby habitat where the road is now blocked off and I found the bird as I turned around. A good start!
The 2+ hour walk around the ponds yielded ~50 species which is fairly typical for this time of year. Highlights in terms of birds nearing the end of their stay were singletons of WHITE-FACED IBIS in the marsh and a soaring SWAINSON'S HAWK. In fact, the Swainson's was my latest sighting for this location by 3 days.
Duck numbers have increased slightly but only GADWALL and RING-NECKED DUCK were new since last Sunday (although I saw the former in midweek). MARSH WRENS and SORAS continue very common (calling from every pond, but only one of the latter seen) and I heard at least 5 VIRGINIA RAILS.
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (2), WILSON'S SNIPE (1, possibly 2) and a few KILLDEER were the only shorebirds noted.
A soaring PEREGRINE FALCON was the best raptor (Prairie Falcon and Merlin seen by others). Several NORTHERN HARRIERS were present and at least one bird was constantly in view. A handful of TURKEY VULTURES, a couple of RED-TAILS, adult male and juvenile female COOPER'S HAWKS and a few KESTRELS rounded out the raptors.
BARN SWALLOWS were numerous overhead with an occasional VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW thrown in. I wish I'd seen a Northern Rough-winged Swallow noted by one other person (I don't have any records at the EOP after mid September). I used up my karma for the day on the House Wren.
Except for SAVANNAH SPARROWS, sparrows and landbirds in general remain scarce. Pick of a small bunch were a dozen AMERICAN PIPITS.
63 species recorded:
Pied-billed Grebe, White-faced Ibis, Am. Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Green-winged & Cinnamon Teal, N. Shoveler, Ring-necked & Ruddy Ducks, Turkey Vulture, N. Harrier, Cooper's, Swainson's & Red-tailed Hawks, Am. Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Virginia Rail, Sora, Am. Coot, Killdeer, Wilson's Snipe, Spotted Sandpiper, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Gila & Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, N. Flicker, Black & Say's Phoebes, Cassin's & Western Kingbirds, Horned Lark, Violet-green & Barn Swallows, Am. Pipit, Bewick's, House & Marsh Wrens, N. Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, Verdin, Loggerhead Shrike, Mexican Jay, Chihuahuan Raven, European Starling, House Sparrow, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Chipping & Vesper, Savannah, Song, Lincoln's & White-crowned Sparrows, Eastern & Western Meadowlarks, Red-winged, Yellow-headed & Brewer's Blackbirds and Great-tailed Grackle.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Today I spent some time in Sulphur Springs Valley starting at Whitewater Draw then working my way north to Willcox. It was probably the coldest morning of the season so far and the temperature was somewhere the high 30s when I left Sierra Vista in darkness at 5:30am.
Upon my arrival at Whitewater Draw (WWD), I chatted with the Wildlife Area manager who told me that he had counted 1200 SANDHILL CRANES this morning. This number is a couple of orders of magnitude higher than my last visit. The only birds I could see were at the far northern edge of the area due to the large expanse of water that still persists. He also told me that the overnight low temperature was 32 degrees.
Have you ever noticed how birders will routinely check locations where they have seen a "good bird"? It's alarming to realize that we do this with some degree of expectancy! Unfortunately, this is usually an exercise in futility that I'm sure isn't practiced by "normal" folks; i.e. non-birders. Birders don't seem to be normal though -- to borrow a line from a James Bond movie "there aren't many normal people in my line of work". In fact, the 4400 would have been 4401 had I not been returned untouched because my behavior patterns are outside of the study parameters. Never heard of the 4400?
All this to introduce the fact that I started by checking the area where I saw a Snowy Plover on my last visit. I didn't find a Snowy but I did find a plover -- in fact, I found 3 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS in the exact same location! Black-bellied Plover is a rare transient in Arizona and I've only accumulated 11 records (all but one in fall). Apart from today and a sighting of two birds at WWD in 1998, all my other sightings have been of single birds. I was some distance from the plovers but I managed to get a documentary shot. I then stepped a little closer and the birds took flight. The answer to the question "how close can you get?" is almost always one step less than you think. At least I saw the black axillaries.
A good start to the day. Unfortunately, the remainder didn't measure up and it was generally an uninspiring day. Even though the morning began quite cold, the valley didn't have much of fall/winter feel since it was a completely sunny and fairly warm day. The only other bird of any note was a single WESTERN GREBE which is regular at WWD by my records from mid October until early December.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record (Dad, what's a broken record?), the wintering duck population continues to stay away in droves (both at WWD and Willcox). As you might expect, shorebird diversity and numbers are diminishing. Nevertheless, I saw 6+ AVOCETS, 1 WILSON'S SNIPE, 1 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, many SPOTTED & LEAST SANDPIPERS and a few WESTERN SANDPIPERS.
The number of VERMILION FLYCATCHERS seems to have increased and I saw at least six today. Many thousands of TREE SWALLOWS continue. What a great spectacle it is too see them take off in unison and start working over the water. Other species included many EARED GREBES, a few REDHEADS, PEREGRINE FALCON, lots of (mostly juvenile) HARRIERS, EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE, BELTED KINGFISHER, AMERICAN PIPIT, CRISSAL THRASHER and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER. 52 species in all.
I zig-zagged my way north, ostensibly looking for my season first Ferruginous Hawk (didn't find one). However, I did pick up my first SAGE THRASHER of the season on Lee Road and a BENDIRE'S THRASHER on Central Highway. The "Mountain Plover fields" on Central are not good for the birds yet (grass is too high). Noble Road yielded the first SWAINSON'S HAWK of the day. I saw about 1000 SANDHILL CRANES in an area of Corn stubble between Mormon and Bell Roads. BREWER'S, VESPER and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were common everywhere in suitable habitat. I saw a couple of small flocks of LARK BUNTINGS.
A late morning hour at Willcox didn't produce anything of real note. I turned up 35 specie including SORA, 2 AVOCETS, 30+ LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS and a few LEAST and SPOTTED SANDPIPERS. A White Pelican has been present for the past couple of days but I didn't see the bird today.
74 species recorded (52 in italics at WWD):
Pied-billed, Eared & Western Grebes, Great Blue Heron, Mallard, Green-winged & Cinnamon Teal, N. Shoveler, Redhead, Ring-necked & Ruddy Ducks, Turkey Vulture, N. Harrier, Cooper's, Swainson's & Red-tailed Hawks, Am. Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Scaled Quail, Sandhill Crane, Sora, Am. Coot, Am. Avocet, Black-bellied Plover, Killdeer, Wilson's Snipe, Long-billed Dowitcher, Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted, Western & Least Sandpipers, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Belted Kingfisher, Gila Woodpecker, N. Flicker, Black & Say's Phoebes, Vermilion Flycatcher, Cassin's & Western Kingbirds, Tree & Barn Swallows, Am. Pipit, Marsh Wren, N. Mockingbird, Sage, Bendire's, Curve-billed & Crissal Thrashers, Verdin, Loggerhead Shrike, Chihuahuan Raven, House Sparrow, House Finch, Orange-crowned & Yellow-rumped Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Canyon Towhee, Lark Bunting, Brewer's, Vesper, Black-throated, Savannah, Song, Lincoln's & White-crowned Sparrows, Eastern & Western Meadowlarks, Red-winged, Yellow-headed & Brewer's Blackbirds and Great-tailed Grackle.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Grungy weather caused me to change my plans this morning. I was headed up to Sawmill Canyon until I realized that my routine data collection mission was probably doomed to failure. The morning began chilly, cloudy and windy -- and then it rained! There was some intermittent sunshine in the late morning but the wind never completely abated. Thankfully though, the gusty high winds of yesterday didn't materialize.
I decided to stay at low elevation and worked lower Garden Canyon up as far as the upper picnic area. As is often the case when the weather is less than ideal, the birding was fairly decent. Despite the blustery conditions and limited coverage, I managed a respectable 60 species including a few decent birds -- and I still missed a dozen regular and expected species.
MALLARD, CINNAMON TEAL and RING-NECKED DUCK at the fishing ponds represented a good showing for this location. As you might expect, ducks are not plentiful in the Huachucas. Among the 25 species that I tallied before the rain began were SHARP-SHINNED & COOPER'S HAWKS, MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER, several LINCOLN'S SPARROWS, my first of season SWAMP SPARROW and a few LAZULI BUNTINGS.
There are a few November records but MacGillivray's Warbler normally peters out in mid October. This was my own latest sighting by a few days. The Swamp Sparrow was a new location bird for me and one that I certainly didn't expect in the foothills. However, birds have wings and they don't read books so it always pays to expect the unexpected. I stopped by the ponds again around 11:30am and found a lone AMERICAN PIPIT, only my third record in the Huachucas.
After waiting out the rain for a while, I resumed birding at Lower Garden Pond. While not quite as productive, I turned up ~20 species including CASSIN'S KINGBIRD, lots of LESSER GOLDFINCHES (still no Lawrence's for me), COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW and more LAZULI BUNTINGS.
I continued on to the lower picnic area where for a while it appeared that I wouldn't see a single bird. I wandered around for 15 minutes before finding what I was hoping to find -- a mixed flock. As such flocks go, it turned out to be fairly decent. Activity was fast and furious and I'm sure that I missed many birds. In the end, my problem was deciding when to leave. It's tough to know when species saturation has been reached. Generally, if I don't see a new species for some arbitrary period, then it's time to move on.
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, BRIDLED TITMOUSE, HUTTON'S VIREO and, to a lesser extent, BEWICK'S WREN, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH and GRAY-HEADED JUNCO were by far the most common species in the flock. The only warblers that I managed to get on (by following their calls) were BLACK-THROATED GRAY and TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS. Thanks to its scolding calls, I was also able to track down a CASSIN'S VIREO.
In the same vicinity, not directly associated with the flock, I found ACORN, LADDER-BACKED & ARIZONA WOODPECKERS, a calling HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER seen perched atop an oak (fairly regular at this location in fall), a few HERMIT THRUSHES and 3 HEPATIC TANAGERS.
It was very quiet at the upper picnic area (except for the stream noise and wind noise) and I only stayed a few minutes. However, I did find my first of season CEDAR WAXWINGS. I heard their high pitched "seeee" calls and then saw a couple of birds. That's how it goes, first you hear the waxwings then you cedar waxwings.
I returned to the lower grasslands and picked up a few more species. A wind assisted male NORTHERN HARRIER was my first of season (I've seen lots of juveniles and females). I'm not sure the bird was really flying where it wanted to go. I added a few more CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS, a lone WESTERN KINGBIRD, a small flock of migrant VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS and 6+ PHAINOPEPLAS huddled in a mistletoe clump. Birds that normally perch conspicuously, such as Loggerhead Shrike, were nowhere to be seen.
Although I'd rather have been in Sawmill doing my normal routine, it was still a productive and enjoyable morning given the conditions.
60 species recorded:
Mallard, Cinnamon Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Turkey Vulture, N. Harrier, Sharp-shinned, Cooper's & Red-tailed Hawks, Am. Kestrel, Am. Coot, Rock Pigeon, Mourning & White-winged Doves, Acorn, Gila, Ladder-backed & Arizona Woodpeckers, N. Flicker, Hammond's Flycatcher, Black & Say's Phoebes, Cassin's & Western Kingbirds, Violet-green & Barn Swallows, Am. Pipit, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Phainopepla, Cedar Waxwing, Bewick's & House Wrens, N. Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, Hermit Thrush, Bridled Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Verdin, Mexican Jay, Chihuahuan & Common Ravens, European Starling, House Sparrow, Cassin's & Hutton's Vireos, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Gray, Townsend's & MacGillivray's Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Hepatic Tanager, Green-tailed Towhee, Rufous-crowned, Chipping, Lincoln's & Swamp Sparrows, Dark-eyed (Gray-headed) Junco, Lazuli Bunting and Great-tailed Grackle.
Friday, October 20, 2006
I continue to spend more time at the computer than I do in the field. Although October is actually a very good birding month in Arizona, it's a slow month in terms of working with clients. Consequently, I have time to catch up on non-field work. The down side, of course, it that there's no money coming my way. Feel free to send some.
It was such a beautiful morning and I decided to spend a few hours down on the San Pedro. Conditions were ideal -- blue sky, zero wind and pleasant temperatures (low 50s to low 70s) from 7:00-10:00am. I checked the area around the San Pedro House (low activity), Kingfisher Pond (moderate activity) and Garden Wash (high activity); then walked back north along the river (low activity). While birds didn't exactly flag me down to say "hey, look at me", I managed to weed out a few decent species.
It was chilly in the shade at the San Pedro House and activity was fairly low here when I arrived. A singing WESTERN MEADOWLARK was a season first at this location (I've seen them elsewhere starting in late September). ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRDS were the most conspicuous species. It was interesting to note that only one of the four feeders was occupied. I watched six birds working one particular feeder, an adult male and five females and/or immatures. All of the feeders had sugar water and all were in shade. The one being used was against the side of the San Pedro House so perhaps it was a little warmer there. I photographed an interesting immature individual as it took a break from feeding. When I noted the minimal amount of red on the throat, I initially identified the bird as an immature female. However, note the hint of red developing on the head which makes it an immature male. Other species around the house included 6+ CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS, PYRRHULOXIA, LAZULI BUNTING, LINCOLN'S SPARROW and GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE (the latter two were quite common throughout).
VERMILION FLYCATCHER is one of my favorite birds and I enjoyed this fine looking male at Kingfisher Pond. Since I was on the west side of the pond looking into the sun, getting really good photos was not going to happen. While the first image is better quality, I liked this pose of the bird with a slightly inquisitive look after returning to its perch having just snatched some prey from the surface of the water (you'll also note that the bird is banded). Definitely worth the price of admission (especially since gas is down to $2.18).
The female GREEN KINGFISHER continues and I was able to pick up the bird by hearing its soft clicking noises. On calm mornings such as today, sound carries very well across the pond. I watched her working the east and west sides of the pond at the south end. Unlike professional photographers who sit in one spot waiting for that perfect opportunity, I just tried to follow the bird around. It was very frustrating to get close to the bird only to have it fly clear across the pond. Just a few seconds for the kingfisher but an eternity for me. The only time that I was reasonably close to the bird was when it was perched in the shade. Murphy at his finest.
I was actually more pleased to find a SPOTTED SANDPIPER at the pond. Although this is one of the more common migrants in SE AZ, it's very scarce in this location and I've averaged less than one record per year. Among the other species at the pond were GREEN HERON, BELTED KINGFISHER and MARSH WREN.
Garden Wash was loaded with birds and was by far the most active location that I checked. Many LAZULI BUNTINGS were present in the Johnson grass including several fairly colorful males. A few female/immature (brown) BLUE GROSBEAKS were in the same area along with low numbers of VESPER and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, moderate numbers of BREWER'S SPARROWS and scads of LINCOLN'S SPARROWS. Numerous HOUSE WRENS worked the debris clumps left behind by the monsoon rain. A few calling COMMON GROUND-DOVES prompted me to investigate. Every dove that I found was just that, no Ruddies.
My walk back along the river was fairly uneventful. For the first time in recent weeks I didn't detect Gray Hawk or Summer Tanager. Highlights were singletons of HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER, CASSIN'S VIREO and WILSON'S WARBLER. All three were vocalizing which is perhaps just as well since I would likely have overlooked them otherwise.
45 species recorded:
Great Blue & Green Herons, Mallard, Red-tailed Hawk, Am. Coot, Spotted Sandpiper, Mourning Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Belted & Green Kingfishers, Gila & Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, N. Flicker, Hammond's & Vermilion Flycatchers, Black Phoebe, Cassin's Kingbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Bewick's, House & Marsh Wrens, Curve-billed Thrasher, Loggerhead Shrike, European Starling, House Sparrow, Cassin's Vireo, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Yellow-rumped & Wilson's Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Green-tailed & Abert's Towhees, Chipping, Brewer's, Vesper, Song, Lincoln's & White-crowned Sparrows, Pyrrhuloxia, Blue Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Western Meadowlark and Great-tailed Grackle.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
I once again joined the regular Sunday morning tour of Sierra Vista EOP (currently the only practical way to gain access to the interior). It was warmer than of late and more in keeping with this date in October. It was certainly too warm for me -- not a cloud in sight, zero wind and 66-80 degrees from 7:40-10:40am. As is often the case when the weather is picture perfect, bird activity was quite low and we struggled to break 50 species (I think the group total was 51).
The highlight of the morning was seeing a PEREGRINE FALCON clobber an unidentified duck that dropped like a stone into the long grass. Interestingly, the Peregrine made a few passes over the area (presumably looking for the duck) then flew away. The best raptor was a possible Merlin that, although perched, was just too far away and obscured to be certain of the identification. Drat. NORTHERN HARRIERS were common and a few RED-TAILED HAWKS were around, including one immature bird that I sloppily misidentified as a Harrier. Neither Turkey Vultures nor Swainson's Hawks were noted today (I've never seen either species at the ponds after late October).
I was pleased to finally see what I am assuming is the same female BUFFLEHEAD that spent the summer at the ponds. I only found out about this bird recently -- it must be one of very few summer records for this species in Arizona. RING-NECKED DUCK, SHOVELER and WIGEON numbers have increased a little.
Not much in the way of shorebirds. The usual KILLDEER, a couple of SPOTTED SANDPIPERS and a continuing lone WHITE-FACED IBIS.
Both MARSH WREN and SORA were very common and vocal in the various marshy impoundments and I heard a few VIRGINIA RAILS.
Wintering WESTERN MEADOWLARKS were conspicuous when I first arrived. Their "chewp" calls (and "wheat" flight calls) first got my attention. I was able to compare tails patterns against the resident EASTERN (LILIAN'S) MEADOWLARKS (much more white on the Lilian's tail).
Apart from numerous SAVANNAH SPARROWS, very few sparrows were present. A lone YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER was the first seen at the ponds this fall season. Normally, they are common by this time.
53 species recorded, (47 at SVEOP (not at EOP in italics):
White-faced Ibis, Am. Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, Green-winged & Cinnamon Teal, N. Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, N. Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, Am. Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Virginia Rail, Sora, Am. Coot, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Rock Pigeon, Mourning & White-winged Dove, Greater Roadrunner, Gila Woodpecker, Black & Say's Phoebe, Western Kingbird, Horned Lark, Tree & Barn Swallows, Cactus & Marsh Wrens, N. Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, Verdin, Loggerhead Shrike, Chihuahuan Raven, European Starling, House Sparrow, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Vesper, Song & White-crowned Sparrows, Pyrrhuloxia, Eastern & Western Meadowlarks, Red-winged, Yellow-headed & Brewer's Blackbirds and Great-tailed Grackle.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I escaped from the keyboard to spend a routine (but extremely pleasant) morning in the Huachucas. I drove directly to Sawmill Canyon then birded various locations in Garden Canyon.
It was a beautiful morning in Sawmill -- mostly blue sky with a few non threatening clouds for perspective, some nice fall colors and a slight chill appropriate to the season. Birds were plentiful, especially in the vicinity of the cabin where I focused most of my attention. Although I didn't see anything rare, most of the common species were fairly numerous and I had a few interesting observations. One of the endearing qualities of birding is that no matter how experienced you are and how often you've visited a particularly location, there's always something new to learn.
The first surprise as I stepped out of my vehicle was the sound of multiple HERMIT THRUSHES singing -- almost like a competition. Occasionally in winter, I'll hear their wonderful flute-like song drifting down from some distant hillside. However, to hear multiple birds in full voice was totally unexpected in late October.
Next surprise was the continuing presence of a CASSIN'S KINGBIRD. I first detected this bird earlier in the month (October 6) and I commented then how unusual it was. While not surprising in itself, since they hang around in the flatlands through November (and they were still common today in lower Garden Canyon), it's certainly unexpected at this location in October by my records.
OLIVE WARBLERS were easy to detect today and I heard/saw a total of at least 10 along with a couple of TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS. I saw way more YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS than I cared to count (well over 100). HEPATIC TANAGERS are dwindling (just a couple today).
Amazingly, I missed Arizona Woodpecker despite much tramping around in the trees further up canyon as I looked for sapsuckers. It wasn't a fruitless search though since I found a good looking male WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER and one, possibly two RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS.
A couple of fly-by WESTERN BLUEBIRDS were the least common species that I noted. This is slightly earlier than I normally see this scarce-in Sawmill species. Over the past few weeks I've seen most of the winter denizens of the canyon with the notable exceptions of Pine Siskin (regular and fairly common) and Cassin's Finch (irregular and uncommon). Still no Pink-sided or Oregon Juncos, just Gray-headed.
In Garden Canyon, a stop just below the upper picnic area yielded 2 HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHERS (interacting and calling vigorously), a silently foraging TOWNSEND'S WARBLER and a mostly silent PAINTED REDSTART (just a few weak calls to get my attention).
Lower Garden Pond wasn't productive today but the surrounding mesquite-grassland held 10+ CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS. I tried to nonchalantly sidle over to photograph a perched RED-TAILED HAWK but managed just an opportunistic flight shot as the bird took off with disdain.
My third surprise of the morning came at the Fishing Ponds -- the MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER that I saw here on October 18 is still present! I studied the bird as best I could (this skulker rarely stays in view very long) and my best guess is that it's a first fall female. For reasons best known to the bird, it's hanging around quite late for this species.
There's not much habitat for SORA at the fishing ponds this year and a single (swimming) bird was a location first this fall. RING-NECKED DUCKS continue while Lawrence's Goldfinches continue to stay away in droves. LINCOLN'S SPARROWS were very common around the smaller pond (same place as the MacGillivray's) where I noted several CANYON TOWHEES and a single SPOTTED TOWHEE.
A slightly routine morning that turned out to be a little less routine than I expected..
59 species recorded:
Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, Sharp-shinned, Cooper's & Red-tailed Hawks, Am. Kestrel, Sora, Am. Coot, Rock Pigeon, Mourning & White-winged Doves, Acorn, Gila & Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Williamson's & Red-naped Sapsuckers, N. Flicker, Hammond's Flycatcher, Black Phoebe, Cassin's Kingbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Phainopepla, Canyon & Bewick's Wrens, N. Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, Western Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, Bushtit, Bridled Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Verdin, Steller's & Mexican Jays, Chihuahuan & Common Raven, European Starling, House Sparrow, Hutton's Vireo, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Olive, Yellow-rumped, Townsend's & MacGillivray's Warblers, Painted Redstart, Hepatic Tanager, Spotted & Canyon Towhees, Chipping, Vesper, Lincoln's & White-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed & Yellow-eyed Juncos, Pyrrhuloxia, Eastern Meadowlark and Great-tailed Grackle.
Friday, October 27, 2006
A clear overnight sky produced a crisp morning on the San Pedro. As usual though, the day warmed quickly and the temperature was in the low 70s by mid morning. In terms of number of species and number of individuals, the birding was a little slow. However, over a period of 3+ hours I had good success in terms of less common species.
First up was a lowly DARK-EYED JUNCO near the San Pedro House, my first pink-sided race of the season. This is a fairly scarce species on the San Pedro RNCA (at least the Hwy 90 section).
The first bird that I saw at Kingfisher Pond was a female BUFFLEHEAD, one of my favorite ducks. While they are generally uncommon as a migrant and wintering species in SE AZ, Bufflehead is a scarce species in this neck of the woods. To give some perspective to my statement, I have a total of 7 records (5 of which were spring migrants) and I've only recorded them in 4 of the 14 years that I've birded on the river.
No sign of Green Kingfisher at the pond but the beautiful male VERMILION FLYCATCHER continues along with GREEN HERON. Also present was a male BELTED KINGFISHER, MARSH WREN and a few common regulars. When I made a second pass at the pond a couple of hours later, I found this MERLIN. Although it's usually easy to pin down the race of a Merlin, this one's a Taiga (columbarius), I always seem to have trouble sexing juveniles. After much deliberation, I decided that this bird is a juvenile male (reasons left unstated so you can have an unbiased look). See what you think (I've included a couple of inset shots for better perspective). It's amazing how a different viewing angle and/or seeing the bird in good and poor light can cause you to do a 180.
A handful of LAZULI BUNTINGS continue in Garden wash which had far less birds than my last visit. Black Phoebe pond didn't even have the obligatory Black Phoebe.
While at Kingfisher Pond I thought that I heard the song of CASSIN'S VIREO. Later, as I walked north along the river, I found the little sucker as well as a PLUMBEOUS VIREO. Even though overall I have slightly more records of Plumbeous on the river, fall is probably a better time to see Cassin's here.
The best bird of the morning also came along the river. I first heard then briefly saw a LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH approximately midway between Kingfisher pond and where the San Pedro House trail meets the river. This is possibly (probably?) the same individual that has wintered here for the past five years, although I missed it during its first winter. The/a GREEN KINGFISHER was present in the same area. I heard the bird giving its "ticking" call but could only manage a rear view in a well tucked away location. Consequently, I can't say if it was the same female that's been around for several weeks. A bird was seen yesterday north of the Highway 90 bridge but the sex wasn't reported.
CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS and various flavors of sparrows (in low numbers) were in the grassland. Only LINCOLN'S SPARROWS and ABERT'S TOWHEES were common.
49 species recorded:
Great Blue & Green Herons, Mallard, Bufflehead, Cooper's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Merlin, Am. Coot, Killdeer, Mourning & White-winged Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Belted & Green Kingfishers, Gila Woodpecker, N. Flicker, Black & Say's Phoebes, Vermilion Flycatcher, Cassin's Kingbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Cactus, Bewick's, House & Marsh Wrens, Curve-billed Thrasher, Verdin, Chihuahuan Raven, House Sparrow, Plumbeous & Cassin's Vireos, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, Green-tailed, Canyon & Abert's Towhees, Brewer's, Savannah, Song, Lincoln's & White-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed (pink-sided) Junco, Pyrrhuloxia, Lazuli Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird & Great-tailed Grackle.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Out today with Clifford Cathers from Tucson, AZ. We last birded together in the White Mountains earlier this year on July 30 (a rainy but successful day). Obviously, Clifford is an experienced local birder and could do just as well without hiring me. This was simply his way of saying thanks for all the information that I've provided over the years on my web site and on the local bird list. Thanks Clifford!
We spent a few hours on the San Pedro with Green Kingfisher as the only (year bird) target for Clifford. Anything else would be gravy. Initially, the weather was quite reasonable (cool with patchy clouds) and bird activity was decent. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the sky to become heavy and gray with a commensurate drop in temperature. Birds all but disappeared and we went long periods without seeing or hearing a single species.
On the plus side, the little green guy (gal, actually) was waiting for us at kingfisher pond. The female GREEN KINGFISHER was quite active and vocal for the 45 minutes or so that we stayed at the pond. I couldn't get really close to the bird and the light was lousy, but as you all know this rarely stops me from trying for a photograph of anything. If you don't buy a ticket, you won't win the raffle. I cranked up the ISO to 800 and gave it a shot. I managed a decent image under the circumstances. What a cracking birds this is.
Incidentally, it's worth mentioning that this individual (and almost all of the female Green Kingfishers that I can recall) has a significant amount of orangish wash under the chin and some on the belly. Interestingly, (disturbingly?), this is not shown nor even mentioned in most of the field guides that I own including National Geo., Peterson Western, Kaufman and Stokes. It is shown in Sibley and mentioned in the National Geo. "complete guide".
The MERLIN that I mentioned on Friday continues at the pond along with a male BELTED KINGFISHER and the delightful male VERMILION FLYCATCHER. Also present were a few LAZULI BUNTINGS including one individual that gave us pause as a potential immature male Indigo (by voice and plumage). However, close inspection revealed too much in the way of wing bars for a male. Can't rule out a possible hybrid though.
One, possibly two HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHERS (including a loudly calling individual); SPOTTED TOWHEE and singing WESTERN MEADOWLARK were the least common location species that we encountered and they represented the best of what was indeed slim pickings elsewhere. Both Clifford and I heard brief calls from an almost certain Cedar Waxwing but couldn't track it down. Even though I'm 99.99% certain, this would be a new location species for me so I didn't count the bird.
Among the regularly occurring species were several BLACK PHOEBES, continuing CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS, many calling HOUSE WRENS (including one bird that was singing) and the usual ABERT'S & GREEN-TAILED TOWHEES and LINCOLN'S & WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS. Other sparrows were scarce, especially BREWER'S SPARROW, a species that can already be abundant by this time. A handful of WHITE-WINGED DOVES were mooching from the San Pedro House feeders where ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRDS continue (they'll be gone from here pretty soon).
Driving back to town, we made a brief stop at Sierra Vista EOP just as the Sunday tour was finishing up. We managed a few minutes before the gate was closed and noted a few regulars including PEREGRINE FALCON and a flock of YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS
57 species recorded:
Great Blue Heron, Am. Wigeon, Mallard, N. Harrier, Cooper's & Red-tailed Hawks, Am. Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Sora, Am. Coot, Rock Pigeon, Mourning & White-winged Doves, Greater Roadrunner, Anna's Hummingbird, Belted & Green Kingfishers, Gila & Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, N. Flicker, Hammond's & Vermilion Flycatchers, Black & Say's Phoebes, Cassin's Kingbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Bewick's, House & Marsh Wrens, N. Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, White-breasted Nuthatch, Loggerhead Shrike, Chihuahuan Raven, European Starling, House Sparrow, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Green-tailed, Spotted & Abert's Towhees, Chipping, Brewer's, Vesper, Song, Lincoln's & White-crowned Sparrows, Pyrrhuloxia, Lazuli Bunting, Western Meadowlark, Red-winged, Yellow-headed & Brewer's Blackbirds and Great-tailed Grackle.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
First of two days with Polly and Russ Boley from Evergreen, CO and Becky Isham from Portland, OR. We visited Patagonia Lake, Kino Springs and Paton's yard without any specific targets in mind. After a chilly start, it was a sunny and warm day to finish up October. Early bird activity was good but nose dived significantly after 11:00am.
At Patagonia Lake, we started near the Marina and visitor center then walked the trail at the east end of the lake without getting as far as the creek. We turned up 60+ species in 4.5 hours. Highlights were a soaring BLACK VULTURE (my first at the lake in October), my first EASTERN PHOEBE of the season and my umpteenth three phoebe day in Arizona, several BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS (on the upper trail near the bench) and a surprise group of MEXICAN JAYS calling from the hillside above the bench (only my third record at the lake).
We found the usual wintering empids -- HAMMOND'S, DUSKY and GRAY FLYCATCHERS although, somewhat annoyingly, we never managed to lay eyes on a Gray despite chasing a few. We encountered a decent sized mixed flock that had lots of BUSHTITS, a few BRIDLED TITMICE, three species of vireos -- HUTTON'S and multiple PLUMBEOUS & CASSIN'S (both singing), and an elusive TOWNSEND'S WARBLER.
Out on the water, ducks are still scarce but I did see a distant SCAUP species with RING-NECKED DUCKS that I couldn't say wasn't a Greater Scaup (or that it was, with certainty). However, it didn't strike me as a Lesser. Next trip maybe. A group of WESTERN GREBES numbered 5 or 6 and the usual EARED and PIED BILLED GREBES were present along with 1 NEOTROPIC and 2 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, 1 GREAT EGRET, a couple of GREEN HERONS and a juvenile BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON. At the marsh edge, we heard multiple VIRGINIA RAILS and SORAS but didn't see either.
It was quite warm by the time we reached Kino Springs and I was extremely surprised that we managed to see 35 species between 12:30-1:30pm. Highlights at the clubhouse pond were OSPREY, MERLIN, RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, GILDED FLICKER, VERMILION FLYCATCHER and CASSIN'S KINGBIRD.
At the first pond, a decent (but unknown) sized group of LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCHES were chattering away completely hidden from our view in a small tree. Fortunately, one bird took pity on us and perched in the open.
Except for HOUSE SPARROWS, Marion Paton's yard was devoid of birds around 2:00pm. Nevertheless, a very productive outing.
83 species recorded:
Pied-billed, Eared & Western Grebes, Double-crested & Neotropic Cormorants, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Am. Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck, Black & Turkey Vultures, Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, Am. Kestrel, Merlin, Gambel's Quail, Virginia Rail, Sora, Common Moorhen, Am. Coot, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpiper, Rock Pigeon, Mourning & White-winged Doves, Common Ground-Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Gila & Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Red-naped Sapsucker, Northern & Gilded Flickers, Hammond's, Gray, Dusky & Vermilion Flycatchers, Eastern, Black & Say's Phoebes, Cassin's Kingbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Cactus, Bewick's, House & Marsh Wrens, N. Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, Hermit Thrush, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Bushtit, Bridled Titmouse, Verdin, Loggerhead Shrike, Mexican Jay, Chihuahuan & Common Ravens, House Sparrow, Plumbeous, Cassin's & Hutton's Vireos, House Finch, Lesser & Lawrence's Goldfinches, Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped & Townsend's Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Abert's Towhee, Chipping, Lark, Song, Lincoln's & White-crowned Sparrows, N. Cardinal, Red-winged & Brewer's Blackbirds and Great-tailed Grackle.
This log is in chronological order and the most recent entries
are at the bottom of the page.
The last update was on Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Oct. Species Seen
Journal - October, 2006
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