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January 24th, 2016
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Sulphur Springs Valley

A classic day of winter birding in SE Arizona, touring the Sulphur Springs Valley, with many memorable highlights.

Willcox Twin Lakes:

Starting early at Lake Cochise, we saw our first SANDHILL CRANES of the day heading over. The lake was quiet only a few ducks, including CINNAMON TEAL and RING-NECKED DUCK, but more was to be found around the edges. A handful of CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPURS and HORNED LARKS flew back and forth, and a singing WHITE-WINGED DOVE was a sign of the coming spring, as were courting VERMILION FLYCATCHERS.

American Coot

American Coot

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

Killdeer

Killdeer

Willcox Twin Lakes

Lake Cochise, Willox Twin Lakes

The nearby community compost site gave us good views of SCALED QUAIL, as usual.

Scaled Quail

Curve-billed Thrasher

Kansas Settlement:

We were treated to excellent close views of one of the regular FERRUGINOUS HAWKS.

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

Even better, a huge number of SANDHILL CRANES were feeding distantly in the fields. As we watched, they began to take off, swarming above us, befor heading off towards the roost at Whitewater Draw. It was an incredible spectacle.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

We also saw CHIHUAHUAN RAVEN here, and had great views of a friendly GREATER ROADRUNNER.

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Elfrida:

We found a BARN OWL roosting in an abandoned cotton gin, and were delighted to get brief views of a BOBCAT nearby.

Barn Owl

 

Near McNeal:

We couldn’t find any Sagebrush Sparrows today along Grants Rd, but a SAGE THRASHER was good compensation. A few BLACK-TAILED JACKRABBITS sped through the sagebrush.

Sage Thrasher

Black-throated Sparrow

Whitewater Draw:

The SANDHILL CRANES had arrived from the fields and put on another show.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

We also found GREAT EGRET, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, several GREATER YELLOWLEGS, plenty of stunning VERMILION FLYCATCHERS, and a few early TREE SWALLOWS.

The same female MERLIN as a couple of days ago was going back and forth to the same tree with a succession of sparrow snacks. As dusk approached we watched the YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD flock build up, and a GREAT HORNED OWL appear and hoot its approval of the coming night. We reluctantly departed, delighted with our fabulous day in the valley.
.
Northern Harrier

Northern Shoveler

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

 

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