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A hot but fantastic day of target birding from Peña Blanca Canyon to Mt Lemmon, with an impressive 103 species in all.
We found a pair of BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS in a roadside oak. It’s always fun to see ducks in trees! They must be nesting nearby, maybe in a cavity in this tree. I’ve seen them in this area before, but not for a couple of years.
A BOTTERI’S SPARROW was easy to see near the Calabasas Campground.
A quick stop by the road produced GRAY HAWK, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, LUCY’S WARBLER, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, VARIED BUNTING, and HOODED ORIOLE.
Peña Blanca Canyon:
A pair of ELEGANT TROGONS continues near a nest hole. We didn’t get good views of the male, so hiked further up canyon to another nest hole and got better views, but still not perfect. They are definitely into breeding mode now, being far more quiet and elusive.
A female WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL popped her head out of a nest hole after her male called nearby.
We also encountered calling MONTEZUMA QUAIL, BLACK-CHINNED and BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRDS, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, PEREGRINE FALCON, DUSKY-CAPPED, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, HUTTON’S VIREO, CANYON WREN, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, PAINTED REDSTART, HEPATIC TANAGER, BLUE GROSBEAK, and SCOTT’S ORIOLE.
We also watched a pair of BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS building a nest in a cavity in the same tree as one of the trogon nests.
Las Lagunas/Palo Duro Ponds:
We took our chances in the lowlands briefly, finding ‘MEXICAN’ MALLARD, PIED-BILLED GREBE, GREAT BLUE HERON, GREATER ROADRUNNER, VERMILION and BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS, NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED, CLIFF, and BARN SWALLOWS, YELLOW WARBLER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, SUMMER TANAGER, and BULLOCK’S ORIOLE.
The heat was really building now, and with another fire in the Atascosa Highlands adding to the uncertainty of going to California Gulch, we decided to head to high elevation and headed up the mountain for the last few hours of the afternoon.
At Sky Center, the observatories at the very top of the mountain, the male BLUE-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD continued, with both VIRGINIA’S and RED-FACED WARBLERS nearby.
A pair of CASSIN’S FINCHES appeared briefly near the feeders in Summerhaven. Also here, and at a few other stops high up, we found ZONE-TAILED HAWK, WHITE-THROATED SWIFT, MAGNIFICENT and BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRDS, CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER, WARBLING VIREO, STELLER’S JAY, VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, WESTERN BLUEBIRD, HERMIT THRUSH, AMERICAN ROBIN, ‘AUDUBON’S’ YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, SPOTTED TOWHEE, YELLOW-EYED JUNCO, and BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK.
Even though the sun had gone down, there was just enough light to see a late BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHER at Rose Canyon, near the Lizard Rock Group Site.
As we drove back down the mountain in the dark, a MEXICAN WHIP-POOR-WILL flew across, a fitting end to a long and very fruitful day.