March Species Seen
Journal - March, 2007
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This log is in chronological order and the most recent entries are at the
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The last update was on Saturday, March 31, 2007
Thursday, March 1, 2007
Out again today with Paul, Beth and Dave. Apart from a brief afternoon visit to Marion Paton's Yard, we spent all of our time on this beautiful blue sky day at Patagonia Lake State Park.
Birding at Patagonia Lake was far from spectacular yet we still managed to record 70+ species. Copulating AMERICAN KESTRELS along the entrance road got our day started and shortly thereafter I was pleased to find that the wintering BALD EAGLE was still on duty atop a regular cottonwood perch on the small island at the west end of the lake. My latest record for Bald Eagle at the lake is March 7.
We spent some time birding our way from the day use area near the marina to the visitor center. Our main objective in this area was Least Bittern. Although the bitterns don't become regular until the end of March, I have 10 records during the first three weeks of the month including 3 records in the first week (earliest arrival record: March 1, 2005; with a few winter records). However, we didn't have any success today. Nonetheless, the first hour was the most productive birding of the day with almost 50 species recorded.
At the east end of the lake we birded along the marsh trail, in all of the major washes and along the creek; and still managed to miss all the major rarities (Elegant Trogon, Black-capped Gnatcatcher and Louisiana Waterthrush; plus Rose-throated Becard that I later learned was seen yesterday).
The only real signs of spring migration were provided by four swallow species -- small groups of TREE, VIOLET-GREEN and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED in various locations over the water and a couple of BARN SWALLOWS over the creek.
Less common species at the lake were 10+ NORTHERN PINTAILS (decidedly scarce here except in fall -- this was my first March record); a pair of WESTERN BLUEBIRDS at Boulder Beach and a TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE in Nutting's Wash.
We had to work long and hard for RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW in the drier area well away from the lake proper. However, the eventual reward for our effort and persistence was a prolonged look at a bird perched in the open and singing its heart out. A bonus during the search came in the form of a small group of BLACK-CHINNED SPARROWS, including a male already sporting a full black chin. They don't winter at the lake every year and this was my own first sighting this winter (although I know of one other report). Other sparrows on the day were scads of CHIPPING, a few BREWER'S, 8+ LARK, plentiful BLACK-THROATED and the usual SONG, LINCOLN'S and WHITE-CROWNED.
Other species included 22+ NEOTROPIC CORMORANTS, still plentiful COMMON MERGANSERS, 2 WILSON'S SNIPE, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, 2 COMMON GROUND-DOVES, BELTED KINGFISHER, multiple VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, GREEN-TAILED, CANYON & ABERT'S TOWHEES and a MYRTLE WARBLER among the myriad AUDUBON'S (initially detected by its metallic chip).
Marion Paton's Yard was very quiet around 1:30pm and the only hummer we saw was ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD. A colorful LAZULI BUNTING was some consolation for missing Violet-crowned.77 species recorded:
Friday, March 2, 2007
Third and last day with Paul, Beth and Dave. A below freezing start turned into a decent day under high, thin clouds with a moderate wind starting in mid morning. We made successful visits to San Rafael Valley and Scheelite Canyon.
After a bird free drive via the west gate of Fort Huachuca, our first bird of the day came as we entered San Rafael Valley from the east -- a perched columbarius immature/female MERLIN.
At the west end of the valley, it didn't take long to find BAIRD'S SPARROW and by the time that we left at 8:30am we had seen two different individuals, probably three. In contrast to the ease of finding Baird's, we had to work for over 30 minutes before getting good looks at GRASSHOPPER SPARROW. As we scanned bird after bird for Grasshopper, we enjoyed multiple scope looks at Baird's including stunning views of one bird that perched very close to us. Since I usually don't carry my camera when working with non photo taking clients, I missed out on an excellent photo opportunity. C'est la vie. A small flock of 15ish CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPURS were in the area.
The recent changes to Fort Huachuca West Gate operating hours meant that we had to return to Sierra Vista via the long route. However, as things turned out, we picked up a few bonus birds along the way. At an RV park feeder on Harshaw Canyon Road in Patagonia, we had good looks at a couple of LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCHES and a few PINE SISKINS. A small group of EURASIAN COLLARED DOVES were closer to town and in town we added ACORN WOODPECKER, PHAINOPEPLA, WESTERN BLUEBIRD and AMERICAN ROBIN.
Our drive back to Sierra Vista through Sonoita Grasslands took us within 5 miles of "the longspur spot" off Upper Elgin Road so we decided to make a stop there. Although activity was fairly decent around 10:30am, it was quite windy and chilly here so we only made a token effort to see the Lapland Longspur that's been around for a little while now. This is a very rare species in Arizona and I only have one previous record from many years ago. The bird had been seen earlier in the morning and we may have seen it briefly. CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPURS were abundant and I saw one McCOWN'S LONGSPUR in flight.
We continued on to Scheelite Canyon to do battle with Spotted Owl once again. Before getting started, a brief delay to check out a mixed flock near the canyon entrance produced BUSHTIT, BRIDLED TITMOUSE, HUTTON'S VIREO a female TOWNSEND'S WARBLER, DARK & YELLOW-EYED JUNCOS and a few other species. A soaring adult GOLDEN EAGLE completed our pre-owl entertainment.
Unlike our long and unsuccessful search a couple of days ago, I'm happy to report that we easily found a pair of SPOTTED OWLS roosting closely together in a regularly used tree. Not exactly blatantly obvious, just off the trail, but not difficult to see either. Where were the little stinkers on Wednesday? We encountered a couple of calling ARIZONA WOODPECKERS but couldn't lay eyes on them. Nevertheless, an excellent end to the three days during which time we saw around 120 species and a high percentage of target species.48 species recorded:
Sunday, March 4, 2007
Out today with Jeff Rusinow and Jen from Cave Creek, AZ. We've birded together on one previous occasion at the end of December last year. Although it was a mostly sunny, relatively cool day with high thin clouds, it was also another very windy day. However, despite the wind, we managed to see all our principal targets on a "tick and run" type of day (Spotted Owl, Long-eared Owl, Black-chinned Sparrow, Lapland Longspur and McCown's Longspur).
I decided to start at the "longspur spot" near Elgin. I figured that an early morning visit would be our best chance to beat the wind that was forecast to increase as the day progressed. Even though we started birding at 7:30am, the wind was already a factor and produced a significant wind chill in addition to making the search for birds very difficult. Incredibly, after about 30 minutes of searching through scads of CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPURS and HORNED LARKS, we found the lone LAPLAND LONGSPUR and managed great scope views for about 5 minutes. We then turned our attention to looking for McCOWN'S LONGSPUR and again managed scope views -- first of a female and eventually a male. Given the conditions, I was blown away by our success (pun intended).
Although our next target was at Whitewater Draw, we made a relatively short detour to quickly check the two main ponds at St. David Monastery. Green Kingfisher wasn't obvious at either pond and we were quickly on our way again (the last sighting date that I am aware of is Feb 24). Noteworthy among about 30 species recorded were SNOWY EGRET (location species #156 for me at the Monastery) and CEDAR WAXWING (perhaps the same flock that has been around for several months).
At Whitewater Draw, it didn't take long to locate 3 LONG-EARED OWLS in the willows -- slightly south of where they have regularly roosted but easier to see today than last week. We didn't check for Barn Owl and saw just one GREAT HORNED OWL. The mixed SNOW and ROSS'S GOOSE flock was present.
Our next destination was the Granites where we had to work for about 30 minutes before getting good looks at BLACK-CHINNED SPARROW.
Birds noted in passing as we drove the valley included FERRUGINOUS HAWK, LONG-BILLED CURLEW, MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD and many large flocks of LARK BUNTINGS.
After a drive west, we resumed birding in Scheelite Canyon where SPOTTED OWL was extremely easy to find and improved my year-to-date numbers to a much more respectable 5 for 8 despite being well below average.
Before quitting, we checked a couple of sapwell trees in Sawmill Canyon without seeing any sign (other than fresh sap) of Williamson's Sapsucker. It was blowing a gale up there so there was no real chance to listen for them.72 species recorded:
Monday, March 5, 2007
Out today with Mandy Kachur from Ann Arbor, MI. We visited Patagonia Lake State Park and a couple of Patagonia area locations for general birding and photo opportunities. After a chilly and windy start (damn that wind) it was a moderately warm day under high clouds and (thankfully) diminishing wind.
As often seems to be the case at Patagonia Lake when I'm not specifically looking for gnatcatchers, we stumbled into a pair of BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS along the trail near the bench. We had great looks at both male and female at close range as they foraged and called to each other.
Unfortunately, this was the only rarity that we saw among a low total of 63 species at the lake and I didn't see or hear a single empid. Less common location species were MERLIN (4 records: 3 spring, 1 fall) and SCOTT'S ORIOLE (11 records: 9 spring, 2 post breeding). To give these numbers some perspective, today was my 460th visit. The only other obvious migrants/new arrivals (apart from waterfowl) were 4 species of swallows including my first of season CLIFF SWALLOWS. Some of the willows now have a significant amount of growth and it should only be a few days until the first Yellow Warblers and Lucy's Warblers are detected.
Other species included well over 20 NEOTROPIC CORMORANTS, several CINNAMON TEAL, 8+ REDHEADS, diminishing numbers of COMMON MERGANSERS (numbers typically drop substantially by mid March); numerous VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER and a few AMERICAN PIPITS.
GREEN-WINGED TEAL were in absolutely stunning plumage that I wasn't able to do justice to with any of the photos that I took. A cooperative VIRGINIA RAIL allowed me to get my best image to date of this species.
Marion Paton's yard was fairly quiet and we only turned up ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD. Even though Violet-crowned Hummingbird returned early this year (in January; early February is typical at this location), all of my recent visits have apparently been mistimed. A few LAZULI BUNTINGS were present including one fairly colorful male. 20 species in all.
In the early afternoon, we finished up along Harshaw Creek. It was very quiet here and even the MEXICAN JAYS were inconspicuous. Among the species not seen elsewhere were RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, ROCK WREN and RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW.75 species recorded:
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
First of three days with Chet Meyers from Minneapolis, MN. Chet has just visited the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico for Rosy-Finches. Now we'll be looking for some woodpecker photo targets as well as a few species that are lifers for Chet. Today our main targets were Spotted Owl and Arizona Woodpecker. Easy enough, right? Wrong! Winter has disappeared over the past couple of days (but could well return before all is said and done). Sierra Vista reached about 85 degrees this afternoon which is way too bloody warm in early March, too warm for me anytime of year.
We started in Sawmill Canyon where it didn't take long to locate (by calls), stalk, see and photograph a pair of ARIZONA WOODPECKERS.
Scheelite Canyon was another story. I thoroughly checked the lower roosting area without finding an owl. Chet decided that he didn't want to continue up canyon to the middle and upper areas so we struck out. We'll try again on Friday.
The canyon had a very warm, spring-like feel today -- HUTTON'S VIREOS were singing throughout; WHITE-THROATED SWIFTS soared and screamed overhead; a loud trilling advertised the presence of my first of season male BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD in flight; and at least one singing PAINTED REDSTART has returned to the canyon (I have one February record but the first week of March is usually when the first birds show up). We also saw three more ARIZONA WOODPECKERS (2 males and a female) and the usual CANYON WRENS and BRIDLED TITMICE..
We finished up near the San Pedro House where it was well into the 80s at 1:00pm. Nevertheless, we managed to entice a few GILA WOODPECKERS into view for a photo opportunity.36 species recorded:
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Out again with Chet for a long day on the road. We left Sierra Vista at 3:00am for a trip to "the thrasher spot" near Buckeye in Maricopa County; and followed that with a bout of my least favorite type of birding -- chasing stakeout rarities. We looked for Ruddy Ground-Dove, Rufous-backed Robin and Streak-backed Oriole with little success as it turned out. It was another unseasonably warm day approaching 90 degrees in mid afternoon. About 650 miles round trip from Sierra Vista.
The thrasher spot lived up to its name this morning and we saw four species -- BENDIRE'S THRASHER and CRISSAL THRASHER both perched up and singing; SAGE THRASHER (conservatively 3, probably twice that number); and most importantly, of course, our target LE CONTE'S THRASHER (at least two).
I always enjoy the challenge of a visit to this location. We had to work for a while for our success (started at 6:40am, left at 8:00am) but we enjoyed great scope looks at fairly close range for our efforts (of all thrasher species). Unlike my visit here last month, I heard only a very brief burst of song from Le Conte's today (presumably as the birds are now well into their nesting season).
In addition to thrashers, other species present included ROADRUNNER, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, plenty of SAGE SPARROWS and ABERT'S TOWHEE. Along Baseline Road we added FERRUGINOUS HAWK.
We moved on to the 121st Avenue Ruddy Ground-Dove location near Avondale and gave it 30 minutes. I enjoyed instant success here on Feb 14 but not today. Numerous INCA DOVES were calling and EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES were near the cattle pens.
Now came a long drive to Jake's Corner in Gila County, site of the first county record of Rufous-backed Robin. I've driven past this location numerous times on my way from Slate Creek Divide to Roosevelt Lake but I've never stopped. I was worried that our late arrival (11:30am) would coincide with avian siesta time but that wasn't the case. Almost immediately, we saw a RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN (in fact, 2 of them) actively feeding on hackberries at the edge of the mobile home park closest to the creek. However, they weren't active very long so our timing was good. I managed only 3 shots in a twiggy location and was perhaps fortunate to get one useful image. Thanks to the folks who found these birds in this most unlikely location.
We resumed birding at Gilbert Water Ranch at 1:30pm. It was quite warm here and we only gave it an hour before heading home. Most recent reports of Steak-backed Oriole have been from the early morning hours and, as expected, we didn't get a sniff. Unfortunately, on the type of day such as today, you have to end up somewhere at a crappy time. We recorded about 40 species with nothing unusual noted save for the (singing) BELL'S VIREO that wintered here. The bird might soon have a buddy.66 species recorded:
Friday, March 9, 2007
Third and final day with Chet was another warm day in the 80s, well above average for this time of year. We visited Scheelite Canyon and San Pedro River Inn.
Our trip to Scheelite Canyon was successful but it very nearly didn't turn out that way. After the spate of warm days, I fully expected that the owls would choose a cool roost site today. However, I certainly didn't expect to see an owl in the location where we ended up seeing a bird. I track 5 types of roost sites of which "cliff" is used very infrequently. Furthermore, maximum usage occurs during the heat of June. Hence my surprise today.
SPOTTED OWL couldn't have been more obvious but I walked right past the bird. Had it not been for local birders Alicia and Dieter Kamm and the couple with them who spotted the owl, we would have embarked upon a long (and probably fruitless) walk to the upper canyon. Many thanks! The bird was roosting in plain sight on the east wall of the canyon almost at the 5/8 mile mark. Of course, all the regular roosting sites in this area are in the trees on the west side of the canyon making it easy to miss the bird if you don't glance in the right direction, even though it's obvious.
The canyon wall is a very cool location on warm days -- no early sun, brief sun during the middle part of the day and shaded in the afternoon. Clever bird. I remembered seeing an owl roosting here just once before, many years ago. I checked my records when I got home and it was indeed a long time ago -- June 1994! I was careful to check underneath the owl for whitewash. The good news was that there wasn't a trace which means that I didn't miss the bird in this location a couple of days ago or in recent months. Phew!
We finished up with a visit to San Pedro River Inn, ostensibly to look for Gilded Flicker. However, Chet spent time photographing GILA WOODPECKER and BARN OWL and we never did look for the flicker. Thanks to Michael Marsden and Donna Knox for their hospitality.
Over the three days, we saw 4 of 6 targets and Chet completed his North American owls and thrashers lists and managed a number of photo targets.
After parting company and taking a brief break, I decided to return to Scheelite Canyon to document the little used (an understatement!) roost site. By now it was very warm and the walk up the canyon carrying about 25lbs of gear was a bit of a slog to put it mildly.
Disappointingly, when I reached the owl, the light was terrible and even at ISO 800 the camera wanted to select a shutter speed of 1/50s. Yikes! I messed around for a while without ever obtaining the type of images that I wanted. I'll publish a couple of images here: this roost view shot gives you an overview of the site; this close up shot of the owl was the best I could obtain. This is a large image best viewed by using It's very difficult to keep a large bird completely in focus when the lens is wide open but I needed the light! Interestingly, I was able to get a better image using my 300mm f/4 lens hand-held at close range compared to 400mm f/4 on a tripod at a greater distance.
Every day is a learning experience. Today I learned a little more about Spotted Owl behavior and photography.45 species recorded:
Monday, March 12, 2007
This morning I visited Patagonia Lake State Park to check on migration happenings. I followed that with a short midday visit to Kino Springs then returned to Sierra Vista via Harshaw Canyon, San Rafael Valley and the west gate of Fort Huachuca. More of the same weather-wise -- sunny, warm and a moderate breeze.
At Patagonia Lake, I spent the first hour looking and listening for Least Bittern without success. I fully expected to detect one today. Despite the warm days, it was quite chilly down by the water as I wandered around the marshy areas near the marina and visitor center. I checked the same area again later in the morning to no avail. BLACK and TURKEY VULTURES were feeding on the ground around the picnic tables. The weekend fishermen and picnickers had left a disgusting mess.
Ducks have drastically cleared out apart from a few SHOVELERS and GREEN-WINGED TEAL, although 60+ COMMON MERGANSERS and a handful of EARED GREBES were a reminder that winter may not be done.
At the east end of the lake and along the creek, I wasn't able to come up with a hoped for Lucy's Warbler but I did manage a fair number of migrants and recent arrivals. Pick of the bunch was a COMMON BLACK-HAWK near the creek mouth. I also found 10 LEAST SANDPIPERS (super common in SE AZ but scarce at the lake), my first of season NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, 3 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS, 6+ YELLOW WARBLERS, 6+ WILSON'S WARBLERS and 2 SCOTT'S ORIOLES.
VERMILION FLYCATCHERS are now very common (I saw at least a dozen) and the males were performing their "skydance" display flights. For the second successive visit, empids were again scarce and I found only a single GRAY FLYCATCHER in the main mesquite bosque along with an ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER.
I stumbled into a pair of BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS working the area between the second and third washes. The birds called to each other regularly as they foraged. The photo is of a male still very much without a black cap. It's far from my best photographic effort for this species but it does show the undertail rather well. I actually wanted an image of the female but she was moving around too much and mostly obstructed by twigs.
Other species included NEOTROPIC CORMORANT, GREAT EGRET, COOPER'S HAWK, continuing WESTERN BLUEBIRDS in the campground (I was checking feeders for Bullock's Oriole seen by others); and a variety of sparrows including singing RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW and many singing BREWER'S SPARROWS (very common today). 69 species in all.
Kino Springs wasn't very productive at midday. It was warm and windy here and I didn't hang around too long. I recorded 30+ species with nothing of real note seen, although COMMON MOORHEN has become fairly uncommon here. Among the species that I didn't see at the lake were PHAINOPEPLA, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE and SAVANNAH SPARROW (rare at Kino).83 species recorded:
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
My plan for the next few days is to visit Sawmill Canyon in an attempt to establish a new early arrival date for Buff-breasted Flycatcher. You might find that journal entries over the next few days read like a case of "déjà vu all over again". Although my earliest sighting date is March 16 (17 and 18 in other years), typical arrival dates are in the 21-24 region. Consequently, my hopes of finding one earlier than 16 are perhaps driven more by wishful thinking than by a sense of reality. However, since the bird is a short distance migrant and recent weather has been good with above average temperatures, conditions are conducive for an early arrival. Last year I was in busy in AZ and California during this period and didn't do any checking at all; this year I kept my schedule free this week in order to embark upon this exercise. As I'm so fond of saying, "if you don't buy a ticket, you won't win the raffle".
Well, guess what folks. I wrote the above introduction before heading out this morning. As things turned out, you won't have to endure any repetition and I get to go birding somewhere else.
I made a quick (15 minutes) stop at Garden Canyon fishing ponds on my way to Sawmill. I recorded about 20 species including 2 PIED-BILLED GREBES (perhaps they will breed here); a singing GREATER ROADRUNNER, a male ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD (on the same perch since mid February) and a beautiful male VERMILION FLYCATCHER.
Continuing on, a singing ROCK WREN was an unfamiliar sound in Garden Canyon (although the habitat is good in area T3 where I heard the bird). I counted a total of 6 PAINTED REDSTARTS singing between the middle picnic area and the pictograph site. Do you think that they think that spring is here?
The sun hadn't quite warmed the chilly cabin area when I arrived in Sawmill so I spent some time working on woodpeckers. Despite the noisy activities of the usual MEXICAN and STELLER'S JAYS, I was able to find 3 RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS, 2 WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKERS (image of a male) and numerous ARIZONA WOODPECKERS and FLICKERS.
When the flycatchers first arrive, I normally find them in the boggy area/pond (depends on rainfall) or along the creek near the cabin. I focused my attention in this area and around 8:30am I heard a faint but unmistakable "pit" call that gave me a rush of adrenalin. By 9:00am I was looking at my first BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHER of the season. What a great little bird. Obviously, I was elated to extend my previous early date by three days but couldn't help but ask myself the question "when did this bird actually arrive in the canyon?". Birders. Sheesh. Give 'em the sun and they went the moon as well. Although the bird was in excellent light, it's location in a twiggy willow made getting an unobstructed view very difficult. I persevered and managed a pretty decent image for my trouble. By 10:00am the wind became a significant factor and I wouldn't have fancied my chances of finding the bird with a late start.
Noteworthy dates for other birds among 21 species recorded in the canyon:
Sawmill Bar Graph
At least two singing PAINTED REDSTARTS were present. Their average arrival date in the canyon is March 19 and my earliest record is March 12. A single YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER represented my earliest spring record in Sawmill by more than a week (previously March 23). At the other end of the spectrum, WESTERN BLUEBIRDS were close to my latest departure date of March 15.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
At the risk of boring you do death, let me dig a little deeper into yesterday's early sighting of Buff-breasted Flycatcher. About a week ago, I posted to the local AZ/NM birding list about arrival and departure dates of this species. The gist of my post was that, compared to the data in the 1995 edition of "Finding Birds in SE AZ" which showed the birds as arriving in early April and departing in mid September, I have consistently found birds earlier and later than these dates with extremes of March 16 (now 13) and October 7.
My underlying take on this was that the extended dates were simply the result of my "pet project" -- a determined attempt to gather data on this species. Now I'm not so sure. As I suffer15 degrees above average temperatures in March before I've de-winterized my swamp coolers; and having just watched the documentary movie with Al Gore "An Inconvenient Truth" about the effects of global warming, I think maybe the birds really are arriving earlier and staying later -- it's certainly true for other species. How long before they don't leave SE AZ at all for the winter? I'll certainly be pushing up daisies by then but it's food for thought. By the way, if you haven't seen the movie, make a point to do so.
This morning I checked migration happenings on the San Pedro Riparian
National Conservation Area (SPRNCA). It's been my experience that the early
migrants reach here later than points west (such as Patagonia). The reason isn't
hard to understand. The earliest small passerine migrants are highly dependant
on leaf-out and must time their arrival so that food is available. Leaf-out in
Patagonia occurs significantly earlier than on the San Pedro so birds will
naturally arrive there first. You can see what I'm on about in the following
graphic. Although I have a couple more years worth of data for the river, March
visits are about the same in both locations so its a fair comparison.
I spent way too much time in the wash and paid for it later when I reached the river (in terms of temperature and lots of birders). Among the migrants/arrivals that I noted along the river were BELTED KINGFISHER, 2 HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHERS (could have been wintering birds); a few NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS; lots of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS and 3 YELLOW WARBLERS. I may also have heard a Wilson's Warbler but couldn't confirm.
Other species included COOPER'S HAWK, a constantly calling GREAT HORNED OWL, an amazing number of VERMILION FLYCATCHERS spaced at short intervals along the river, GREEN-TAILED, CANYON and ABERT'S TOWHEES (all fairly common) and the usual selection of sparrows. 43 species in all.
A late morning session at Sierra Vista EOP was a little more productive than I expected. The vegetation in the marshy ponds has recently been swealed which means that more open water than normal is visible. Less common species were 4 GREAT BLUE HERONS, 4 COMMON MOORHENS and lone GREATER YELLOWLEGS.
RUDDY DUCKS were abundant; GREEN-WINGED and CINNAMON TEAL numbered in the mid teens and I counted 3 RING-NECKED DUCKS and 20 AMERICAN PIPITS. 22 species in all.
60 species recorded:
Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Gadwall, Green-winged & Cinnamon Teal; Mallard, Ring-necked & Ruddy Ducks; N. Harrier, Cooper's & Red-tailed Hawks; Common Moorhen, Am. Coot, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Rock Pigeon, Mourning & White-winged Doves; Great Horned Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Gila & Ladder-backed Woodpeckers; N. Flicker, Hammond's & Vermilion Flycatchers; Black & Say's Phoebes; N. Rough-winged Swallow, Am. Pipit, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Bewick's & Marsh Wrens; Curve-billed Thrasher, Bushtit, Bridled Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Verdin, Loggerhead Shrike, European Starling, House Sparrow, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Yellow & Yellow-rumped Warblers; Green-tailed, Canyon & Abert's Towhees; Rufous-crowned, Chipping, Brewer's, Vesper, Black-throated, Savannah, Song, Lincoln's & White-crowned Sparrows; Pyrrhuloxia, Red-winged & Yellow-headed Blackbirds; and Great-tailed Grackle.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Today I birded at both ends of Sulphur Springs Valley working my way from south to north. I was primarily looking for migrants but I did equally well on wintering species. It was another ridiculously warm day for this time of year.
Beware the ides of March? Actually, I like the 15th of any month because it's the end of week 2 from a data collection standpoint. Consequently, it's always possible to pick up an early bird. However, when I began my day by checking the fields on Davis Road just east of Coffman, I was wishing it was the 16th or later. Why is that you ask? Well, because at least 30 MOUNTAIN PLOVERS were still present. Last year was the first year that I've recorded this species in March in Sulphur Springs Valley and my latest sighting date was March 16. It's interesting that they are hanging around when the weather is so warm. Perhaps they know where the snow line is which would prevent them from making much northward progress. Or something.
Other species on Davis included a few FERRUGINOUS HAWKS, SAGE THRASHER and many YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS.
Coffman Road produced a singing BENDIRE'S THRASHER (one of 4 on the day), a few MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS, many LARK BUNTINGS, WESTERN MEADOWLARK and the usual sparrow species.
Next, I spent 3 hours wandering around at Whitewater Draw. The 3 LONG-EARED OWLS continue in the willows but they were very difficult to see today. Even if they stick around, they will be well nigh impossible to see with another week of growth. I didn't attempt to weed out all the BARN OWLS but I did see 3 of them with a quick and dirty check. I also saw the regular 2 GREAT HORNED OWLS. The interior of the willow grove is starting to look quite green and should harbor many migrants over the coming weeks.
There's plenty of habitat in multiple locations for migrant waders and sandpipers (large areas of mud flats adjacent to shallow water), although, unfortunately, much of it is beyond reasonable scoping distance. Present today were 20+ AMERICAN AVOCETS (some on the small island in the main pond, perhaps staking out territories); 1 GREATER & 3 LESSER YELLOWLEGS, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, my first of season WESTERN SANDPIPER (my earliest Cochise County record by 1 week) and over 100 LEAST SANDPIPERS in multiple small groups of 10-20 birds.
Out on the water I saw a few EARED GREBES, 12 species of ducks including CANVASBACK, LESSER SCAUP and COMMON MERGANSER; a lone COMMON MOORHEN and 3 RING-BILLED GULLS.
A small group of 11 SANDHILL CRANES were the only cranes that I saw all day.
Among the other species from 60 that I recorded were MERLIN, ROADRUNNER, lots of VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, a small flock of migrant VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS, a few AMERICAN PIPITS and a singing BENDIRE'S THRASHER.
The most interesting bird of the day was a singing CASSIN'S SPARROW on Lee Road (east of Central). Generally, this resident species is hard to come across outside of its July-September breeding period. I've heard them singing in March and April in previous years and have always thought that it needed to be a wet year to make them sing at this time. That theory very much went down in flames today!
As I headed north, I picked up SCALED QUAIL, EURASIAN COLLARED DOVE, a second SAGE THRASHER and a couple more BENDIRE'S THRASHERS.
It was warm but bearable at Willcox around noon. Shorebird habitat here was limited to the temporal pond just south of the main golf course pond. Even here I only found a few KILLDEER and LEAST SANDPIPERS. Elsewhere I saw 3 AMERICAN AVOCETS in spectacular plumage.
Noteworthy among 30 species were over 400 AMERICAN WIGEON, 2 male BLUE-WINGED TEAL, 20 LESSER SCAUP (including some green-headed individuals side by side and in the same light as "regularly colored" birds); a female BUFFLEHEAD and a few fly-by CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPURS.
I debated with myself about detouring to check the Monastery in St. David on the way home. Unfortunately, I won. Since the temperature upon arrival at 2:00pm was 87 degrees, I should probably have listened to myself. My first of season PLUMBEOUS VIREO was the only real highlight among 25 species found in 45 minutes before I threw in the towel. Others species included BELTED KINGFISHER, PHAINOPEPLA, YELLOW WARBLER and CARDINAL.
No report tomorrow. Gotta get those bloody swamp coolers operational.94 species recorded:
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Out today with Joe Nowak from Wheaton, IL who I've birded with on one previous occasion -- a couple of days earlier this year in January. Disappointingly, I failed to find a Spotted Owl despite considerable effort on both days. We tried again today (Joe's a glutton for punishment and you already know about me) and I'm happy to report that we didn't dip for a third time. This was a short day since Joe had other things to do and we only visited Sawmill and Scheelite Canyons. It was quite cool in Sawmill at 7:30am but the day quickly warmed (83 at noon, slightly cooler than of late under high clouds -- what a shame).
When Joe contacted me about this trip, I suggested trying for an unlikely early Buff-breasted Flycatcher. However, after my success earlier in the week, I felt quite confident when we arrived in Sawmill this morning. Unfortunately, not so much two hours later. A couple of times I thought that I heard a bird calling but we couldn't turn that into a sighting.
All of our time was spent from 1/4 mile below the cabin to the first 1/2 mile of the canyon proper. Notable species among 22 that I recorded on this short and focused visit were MONTEZUMA QUAIL (several calling from a nearby hillside) and a calling ELEGANT TROGON working its way up canyon in a sycamore drainage. Although Trogon's don't become regular in Sawmill until mid April, I have a half dozen records in March.
Among the other species were several RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS and ARIZONA WOODPECKERS, BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD, PAINTED REDSTART plus the usual jays and juncos.
It was already uncomfortably warm for the walk up Scheelite at 10:00am and our time in the canyon was mercifully short. We found 2 SPOTTED OWLS, one in a regular tree up against a cliff providing a cool roosting location; the other in a location where I hadn't seen an owl before, completely in the open with very little shade at all. Go figure. Other species in the canyon included 12+ WHITE-THROATED SWIFTS, BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD and PAINTED REDSTART.35 species recorded:
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
First of two days with Bob and Pearl Bergad from Minneapolis, MN, who I've birded with once before; and Billie Joe and Howard Greenberg from New York, NY. We birded at Patagonia Lake, Kino Springs and Paton's Yard. Another fairly warm day (low 80s) under high clouds becoming windy by late afternoon.
It was quite chilly when we scanned the west end of the lake at 6:45am. Highlights were 3 AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS, 3 RING-BILLED GULLS and an OSPREY. I'd say that spring migration is well underway! Interestingly, even though we're now well into March, I still haven't seen or heard any Least Bitterns in the marshy areas where they nest annually.
Among the other species around the day use area near the marina and at the visitor center were several BLACK VULTURES, COMMON MOORHEN (common throughout today, most with bright red bills), SPOTTED SANDPIPER, many WHITE-WINGED DOVES, BROAD-BILLED and RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS, BELTED KINGFISHER, NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW and a female BULLOCK'S ORIOLE.
At the east end of the lake we walked the main trail without entering any of the washes and barely touched the creek. We didn't have any target species in mind and just enjoyed whatever we saw -- the good thing about this type of birding is that you can't fail. The vegetation has really greened up since my last visit and LUCY'S and YELLOW WARBLERS were very common; both singing, especially Yellow. BELL'S VIREOS were vocal but less plentiful. VERMILION FLYCATCHERS are obvious everywhere with plenty of male/female interaction and males doing their skydance.
I didn't see or hear any empids and a couple of NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULETS were the only flycatchers noted apart from BLACK & SAY'S PHOEBES. I may have heard Cassin's Kingbird but couldn't rule out Mockingbird. Birds on the water are thinning out and I didn't see any Mergansers today. Many NEOTROPIC and a handful of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS were loafing in the usual spot near the northeast corner of the lake.
Other species included a few EARED GREBES, COOPER'S HAWK (great looks at a perched adult), TREE SWALLOWS, a couple of AMERICAN PIPITS, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER and CARDINAL & PYRRHULOXIA in close proximity for good comparison. About 65 species in all.
I thought that we might find a recently arrived Gray Hawk during a short midday visit to Kino Springs. Alas, we did not. However, 3 LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCH including a beautiful male were a good find (I haven't seen any here for many weeks). We also had decent looks at a male BULLOCK'S ORIOLE. The (a) lone AMERICAN ROBIN continues.
Hummingbird activity in Marion Paton's yard was quite good in the early afternoon. We saw VIOLET-CROWNED, many BROAD-BILLED and had great side by side view of male ANNA'S and RUFOUS, tolerating each other on the same feeder. Several LAZULI BUNTINGS were regular at the seed feeders.86 species recorded:
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Out again with Bob, Pearl, BJ and Howard for more casual birding. Quite a change in weather today -- much cooler than recent days (60s instead of 80s) with lots of cloud cover and increasing wind. We visited the southern end of Sulphur Springs Valley and St. David Monastery without looking for any specific targets.
In Sulphur Springs Valley, the fields bordered by Davis Road and Central highway and adjacent areas produced FERRUGINOUS HAWK (a few immature birds, no adults seen), a good sized flock of LONG-BILLED CURLEWS, EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE, a nesting GREAT HORNED OWL, CRISSAL THRASHER, numerous medium sized flocks of LARK BUNTINGS (30-50 birds per flock with some males looking very black) and several very large flocks of YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS.
Birds seen on Coffman and Lee Roads included SCALED QUAIL, ROADRUNNER, BENDIRE'S THRASHER, MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD (2 females) and lots of BREWER'S SPARROWS.
Owls were the highlight of our visit to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area with 2 GREAT HORNED OWLS, 4 BARN OWLS and 1 LONG-EARED OWL. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to the find the Long-eared having expected the vegetation growth to be a problem. We only saw one bird but didn't look hard for the other two.
The wind (which picked up considerably during the 2.5 hours we spent birding here) and less than ideal light were perhaps responsible for a relatively low species total. No cranes seen or heard (200 reported present on Monday) and duck diversity and numbers species were limited. Among the 45 species noted were LESSER SCAUP (1 male), BUFFLEHEAD (1 female), COMMON MERGANSER (1 female), COOPER'S HAWK, 6+ AMERICAN AVOCETS, WILSON'S SNIPE, my first of season CASSIN'S KINGBIRD (a bird that was obviously migrating through at a fair clip), the usual VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, TREE & BARN SWALLOWS, a briefly out-in-the-open MARSH WREN, a migrant BELL'S VIREO (my first at this location) and 2 beautiful male BULLOCK'S ORIOLES.
It was very windy by the time we reached St. David Monastery and birding was a challenge. Highlights of 25 species were great flight views of my first of season GRAY HAWKS (at least two present, possibly four) -- impossible to see once they entered the cottonwoods being blown around by the wind.80 species recorded:
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Out today with Neil Davis from Langley, BC who I've birded with on one previous occasion. We had a number of targets in Santa Cruz County where the weather certainly didn't do us any favors. After plenty of overnight rain in Sierra Vista, it was mostly cloudy, cool and windy for much of the day and I noticed some fresh snow on the highest parts of Carr and Miller peaks in the Huachucas when I returned home. A short and not so sweet report today.
We began in San Rafael Valley for a try at Baird's Sparrow. I'd told Neil that our chances were low this late in the season and we didn't have any success. It was quite cold and very windy during the time that we allocated (1.5 hours) and even the common SAVANNAH SPARROWS were scarce. I'm not sure if Baird's has already departed or if the weather was responsible for the failure (my first for some time after a good run of success with this species). The only bird of note was a single fly-by CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR.
We fared much better with our four target species at Patagonia Lake. RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW was easy to find but we had to work for 30 minutes or so before getting a good view. GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE found us as we began the search for BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER which I soon heard. We enjoyed great views of a foraging female. NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET played a little hard to get in that we had to walk almost to the creek before hearing and then seeing a bird. Once again, we had wonderful close range views.
Unfortunately, that was the end of our success. An hour fighting the wind at Las Cienegas didn't produce a hoped for Cassin's Sparrow. VESPER, SAVANNAH and BREWER'S were all common.
At the Elgin longspur spot, any longspur species would have been okay but windy conditions were once again a problem and we only managed flight views of a dozen or so CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPURS.54 species recorded:
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Out today with the Rottas family and friend from Mesa and Phoenix, AZ. We visited Patagonia Lake State Park, Kino Springs and Marion Paton's yard for some gentle beginning birding.
[Weather note: After a long spell of sunny and 12+ degrees above average days, we've had a few days of 12+ degree below average days with thunderstorms, heavy rain and high elevation snow. Mt. Lemmon received a few inches of snow and the white stuff was very evident this morning in the Huachuca and Santa Rita Mountains. There's a reason those mountain birds usually don't show up early; the early arriving Buff-breasted Flycatchers in Sawmill Canyon are probably getting a reality check. I had one myself this morning at 5:30am when I had to scrape ice and pry the wipers off the windshield. You see, there was a reason that I didn't really want to get my swamp coolers de-winterized.]
Anyway, after a chilly start it was beautiful sunny morning followed by afternoon high clouds with a pleasant temperature and zero wind. Patagonia Lake State Park was packed to the rafters with campers, although the trails were relatively people free. We spent almost 5 hours starting near the visitor center then working the east marsh trail without ever entering any of the washes, the mesquite bosque or walking the creek trail. Bird activity was decent and I recorded ~65 species.
The wintering flock of Mergansers has departed and waterfowl numbers are now quite low. Both NEOTROPIC and DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS were easy to see and we had close range views of BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON and human habituated GADWALL, GREEN-WINGED & CINNAMON TEAL, SHOVELER and COMMON MOORHEN.
VERMILION FLYCATCHERS are always a crowd pleaser and they were very much in evidence today. Although we didn't see any of the regular wintering flycatchers (Hammond's, Dusky or Gray), a migrant PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER was my first March record at the lake. BLACK PHOEBE, CASSIN'S KINGBIRD and a calling NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET rounded out the flycatchers.
LUCY'S WARBLERS were even more abundant than YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS and many individuals of both species were feeding on ground. BELL'S VIREOS sang in multiple locations and we actually managed good views with minimal effort.
In addition to TURKEY and BLACK VULTURES over the lake, raptors included calling COOPER'S and GRAY HAWKS and SHARP-SHINNED HAWK seen in flight. Four species of swallows worked over the water.
BLACK-THROATED SPARROWS were easy to see near the bench at the trailhead. In the same location, the irony of a relatively easy to see RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW did not escape me (I had to work for 30 minutes for such a view on Thursday). More evidence of my constant battle with that guy Murphy came in the form of a singing CASSIN'S SPARROW as we drove along Patagonia Lake Road to Hwy 82. A couple of days ago in the high winds I couldn't buy one.
Highlights of 35 species at Kino Springs around midday were some stunning RUDDY DUCKS in full breeding plumage and a scope view of a perched GRAY HAWK.
Activity in Marion Paton's Yard was frenetic during the time that we had the place to ourselves then died down quickly as a crowd gathered. Highlights here were a couple of GRAY HAWKS in flight, four species of hummers including many BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRDS and star of the show VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD; and a few colorful LAZULI BUNTINGS. Among the other species noted were ACORN WOODPECKER, ABERT'S TOWHEE, LINCOLN'S SPARROW, NORTHERN CARDINAL and PYRRHULOXIA.
Final bird of the day was a EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE in the parking lot of Sonoita Inn. In the not too distant past, this was a highly sought after bird in Arizona. Now not so much.82 species recorded (*=heard only):
Monday, March 26, 2007
Out today with Jon and Alison Elliot from Richmond in the UK. Another beautiful day spent birding at Patagonia Lake State Park, Kino Springs and in Marion Paton's yard. We didn't look for any species in particular and had a very productive and enjoyable day.
Patagonia Lake was very birdy and 6 hours produced 75 species. All the birds were good for Jon and Alison but the highlight for me was my first of season FRANKLIN'S GULL showing a full black cap and a blush of pink on the breast (spotted in a flock of 8 RING-BILLED GULLS by Jon). The gull turned out to be an even better bird when I checked my records later-- it was a first at the lake for me, location species #259. The sighting also tied my earliest spring record, seen on this date at Sierra Vista EOP back in 1998. Although published data shows them as more common as a spring migrant, my 40 SE AZ records are evenly split in spring and fall.
Other good stuff included my first of season (finally!) LEAST BITTERN calling from the marsh near the visitor center; a soaring COMMON BLACK-HAWK that was a little too far away for great views; and a lowland migrant PAINTED REDSTART in the big willows at the bottom of the steps (and it was a real stunner, too). Also of note was a PIED-BILLED GREBE with 3 chicks (must have laid eggs in February).
Other species included both DOUBLE-CRESTED and NEOTROPIC CORMORANTS seen at close range, LESSER SCAUP in flight, a female BUFFLEHEAD, OSPREY, a poorly seen COOPER'S HAWK near the nest in the willow forest, great looks at a VIRGINIA RAIL spotted by Alison as we scanned in vain trying to see a calling MARSH WREN; a handful of LEAST SANDPIPERS, BROAD-BILLED, BLACK-CHINNED and RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRDS near the visitor center, super close looks of NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, decent looks at DUSKY FLYCATCHER, a very reticent (FOS) DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER, gobs of VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, several CASSIN'S KINGBIRDS and a sloppy BELL'S VIREO in a leafless mesquite that allowed us to get very close (we had already paid our dues though).
Warblers were very much in evidence today -- YELLOW-RUMPED, YELLOW and LUCY'S were all very common and we also saw ORANGE-CROWNED, BLACK-THROATED GRAY and WILSON'S WARBLERS. Sparrows were mostly AWOL apart from a singing RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW near the bench and several BLACK-THROATED SPARROWS.
A midday visit to Kino Springs was understandably less productive but we did pick up the expected GRAY HAWK (scope views of a perched bird), a very close GRAY FLYCATCHER, a male PHAINOPEPLA hanging out near mistletoe, not so great views of a male BULLOCK'S ORIOLE and scope looks at a couple of LAWRENCE'S GOLDFINCHES. I thought the goldfinches had all bailed out -- not the case.
Marion Paton's yard was again very good for hummers with BROAD-BILLED, VIOLET-CROWNED, BLACK-CHINNED, ANNA'S and RUFOUS (a stunning male). Also of note was a lowland migrant female BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD. I have a dozen records at the Paton's over the years with most from March and April.
A couple of noisy GRAY HAWKS were perched in the open just west of the yard. Other feeder denizens included GAMBEL'S QUAIL, INCA DOVE, ACORN WOODPECKER, ABERT'S TOWHEE and several colorful LAZULI BUNTINGS getting more blue and orange by the day.
A good day by any standards.90 species recorded (*=heard only):
Friday, March 30, 2007
Out today with Dean & Joan Luehrs from Sun City, AZ who I've birded with on five previous occasions. Today we visited Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area at the south end of Sulphur Springs Valley; Holy Trinity Monastery in St. David; then finished up with a short mid afternoon session on the San Pedro. It was a sunny, relatively cool (mid to high 60s) day with increasing wind after mid morning.
This trip was originally scheduled for mid February when target species such as Long-eared Owl, Mountain Plover and Sage Thrasher would have been highly likely. Unfortunately, we saw none of them today so I was happy that Dean and Joan were able to successfully follow up on my Monday sighting of Lawrence's Goldfinch at Kino Springs (they saw at least 6 there yesterday).
Coffman Road was very active and it took us 40 minutes to drive the 2.5 miles stretch from Davis Road to Whitewater Draw entrance. BREWER'S SPARROWS were abundant and their bubbling song was incessant. LARK BUNTINGS were also numerous including some almost solid black plumaged males. Among the other species were my first of season SWAINSON'S HAWK, small groups of GAMBEL'S and SCALED QUAIL, GREATER ROADRUNNER, numerous LOGGERHEAD SHRIKES, EASTERN & WESTERN MEADOWLARKS, BREWER'S BLACKBIRD and many BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS.
At Whitewater Draw we proceeded directly to the south willows to look for the Long-eared Owls. While the vegetation is now much greener, it wasn't as dense as I expected. Nevertheless, I wasn't able to find an owl in their previously reliable location. I spoke with the site host who told me that she had not seen the birds since Tuesday. They may have already headed north or I may simply have missed them. I also searched for them in the interior of the grove and didn't come up with a single Barn Owl in the process (the site host had also not seen the Barn Owls for several days).
Leaving the willows behind, we spent an hour looking at the various impoundments. Somewhat disappointingly, ducks (especially) and shorebirds were in short supply. The only uncommon duck was a female BUFFLEHEAD; shorebird/waders noted were several AMERICAN AVOCETS, 7 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS, a heard only GREATER YELLOWLEGS and SPOTTED & LEAST SANDPIPERS.
Other species included a continuing COMMON MOORHEN (this winter was my first sighting at this location); 3 distant gulls -- 2 RING-BILLED GULLS and an adult CALIFORNIA GULL (a rare transient in SE AZ); 2 GREAT HORNED OWLS, several gorgeous VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, newly arrived and soon to be abundant WESTERN KINGBIRDS, AMERICAN PIPIT, MARSH WREN and YELLOW WARBLER. 40 species in all.
An hour spent at St. David around midday was not very productive. Species here included calling GRAY HAWKS, a singing PLUMBEOUS VIREO in the same tree as last week (a bird that I thought was a migrant and may still be such), a singing BELL'S VIREO, LUCY'S & YELLOW WARBLERS, an elusive WILSON'S WARBLER, LINCOLN'S SPARROW and several NORTHERN CARDINALS. 30 species in all.
The San Pedro House feeders had plenty of customers, most of which were LESSER GOLDFINCHES and RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS. A few PINE SISKINS represented an uncommon migrant on the river -- I've seen them almost every year and in all months except June, July and August, but always in low numbers.
Lots of swallows worked over the open fields between the San Pedro House and the river. NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (a breeder on the river) were most common; CLIFF SWALLOWS were fairly numerous (an uncommon migrant in this location, a breeder in town); VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS were also present.
A short mid afternoon walk south along the cottonwood gallery produced a number of typical species but nothing unusual. I heard a loudly calling HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER and glimpsed a probable "Western Flycatcher.30+ species in all.86 species recorded (*=heard only):
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Out with Jamie Massey and Janet Forrer from Tucson, AZ for an evening owling session. I've birded with Jamie on one previous occasion. Carr Canyon is the best location that I know to find all three low elevation small owls in very close proximity on public land. However, I hate visiting here on weekends (and Friday) because of the amazing amount of traffic for a dead end road up a mountain; and there were certainly lots of yahoos kicking up dust tonight. Probably not what was envisaged when the concept of National Forests was developed. Nevertheless, while really irritating, our results were not impacted.
Vehicular traffic notwithstanding, conditions were ideal -- fairly mild after a moderately warm day, clear sky, full moon and most importantly, zero wind. Our primary target was Western Screech-Owl which we saw well along with secondary targets Elf Owl and Whiskered Screech-Owl..
The chronology of events was fairly typical -- the first bats were up and about in good light at 6:44pm, the first Western Screech and Elf Owls were heard at 7:01pm and COMMON POORWILLS fired up at 7:05pm (soon to fall silent and never call again over the next 1.5 hours). We worked first on WESTERN SCREECH-OWL and found a curious though hardly aggressive individual that led us around for a while on difficult terrain. Eventually, we had an excellent view of the bird perched while calling and preening before it disappeared into the darkness. A screeching juvenile GREAT HORNED OWL showed interest in our activities.
Next we turned to ELF OWLS whose almost constant calls made it easy to find their general location. We had a couple of flight views of a male before seeing a female in a nest cavity in a regularly used tree. At least one other pair were in the neighborhood.
We finished up with WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL, the most common species in the bottom of the canyon and usually the easiest to locate and see. Tonight wasn't quite in the "slam dunk" category but we only needed to expend a few minutes of time and effort to obtain a perfect view of bird perched completely in the open. An excellent end to the proceedings.
Although the evening turned out very well, regular readers over the years will be well aware that there have been nights when I couldn't buy an owl!
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The last update was on Saturday, March 31, 2007
March Species Seen
Journal - March, 2007
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