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April 15th, 2015
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Atascosa Highlands, Tubac

A great day of target birding, once more into the Atascosa Highlands, with 70 bird species and three wonderful snakes.

Ruby Rd:
A quick stop by the side of the road just west of the Calabasas Campground produced a pair of GRAY HAWKS, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, and several singing BOTTERI’S SPARROWS.
GRAY HAWK, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, and abundant LUCY’S WARBLERS and RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROWS were found by the roadside at Walker Canyon.
A few ‘AZURE’ EASTERN BLUEBIRDS were between Sycamore Canyon and Ruby.
An OSPREY was on a roadside pole not far from Peña Blanca Lake.

Botteri's Sparrow

Osprey

It turned out to be a fantastic day for snakes! We saw two along Ruby Rd, an EASTERN PATCH-NOSED SNAKE, which was extremely nice but overshadowed by my third BROWN VINESNAKE in eight months, another one in full cryptic pose in the middle of Ruby Rd. I was able to walk around it and photograph from every angle, and even had to give it a few nudges with my fingers before it slithered away, and straight into the low branches of a roadside tree (which were about a foot off the ground). I took my eye off it for a second, and it had disappeared. I suspect it was still right in front of us, but we simply couldn’t see it once it became just another branch!

Brown Vinesnake

Brown Vinesnake

Brown Vinesnake

Brown Vinesnake

Brown Vinesnake

Brown Vinesnake

Eastern Patch-nosed Snake

Eastern Patch-nosed Snake

Eastern Patch-nosed Snake

Sycamore Canyon:
A male ELEGANT TROGON was about 0.5 miles down canyon from the parking area.
Also in the first mile of the canyon, calling MONTEZUMA QUAIL, GRAY and ZONE-TAILED HAWKS, WHITE-THROATED SWIFT, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER, HUTTON’S VIREO, VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW, BUSHTIT, several ‘AZURE’ EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, PAINTED REDSTART, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, HEPATIC TANAGER, and HOODED ORIOLE.

Canyon Wren

Hepatic Tanager

Hutton's Vireo

Elegant Earless Lizard

Scarlet Hedgehog Cactus

Sycamore Canyon

Sycamore Canyon

California Gulch:
Despite spending three hours trying, we only heard a couple of FIVE-STRIPED SPARROWS calling, and never got a visual. Mid-afternoon is really not the best time to find them.
We did find COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRD, DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE, and RUFOUS-CROWNED and LINCOLN’S SPARROWS.

Black-chinned Hummingbird

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Our third snake of the day was a gorgeous SONORAN WHIPSNAKE which gave us a good look before it disappeared into the undergrowth.

Sonoran Whipsnake

Sonoran Whipsnake

Rio Rico:
A GREAT EGRET flew along Portrero Creek, past the Pilot Travel Center.

Tubac:
The SINALOA WREN gave a couple of bursts of song, and several ratchet calls, but typically stayed out of sight in the short time we tried late afternoon. It was again in the area south of the power line cut.
Also there, BLACK VULTURE, GRAY HAWK, and DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER.

We also saw a BARN OWL at an undisclosed location.

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