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January 26th, 2017
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Green Valley, Nogales, Patagonia, Las Cienegas

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A cold but delightful day of birding in Pima and Santa Cruz Counties.

Green Valley:

The desert was alive with birds, despite the low temperature, and we encountered most of the typical desert species, including COOPER’S HAWK, WHITE-WINGED DOVE, ANNA’S and COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRDS, CACTUS WREN, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, PHAINOPEPLA, and RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW.

Phainopepla

Rufous-winged Sparrows

Rufous-winged Sparrow

Verdin

Amado Pond:

The usual stuff was augmented by BUFFLEHEAD, NEOTROPIC CORMORANT, and nice views of a feeding WILSON’S SNIPE.

Nogales:

Both BLACK and TURKEY VULTURES were flying about.

Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center, Patagonia:

A SHARP-SHINNED HAWK flew by as we arrived, so it took a while for the birds to return to the feeders. When they did, we enjoyed close views of WHITE-WINGED and INCA DOVES, BRIDLED TITMOUSE, GREEN-TAILED and ABERT’S TOWHEES, LINCOLN’S SPARROW, PYRRHULOXIA, PINE SISKIN, and a couple of smart male LAZULI BUNTINGS. One of the group saw an unusual lower-elevation ARIZONA WOODPECKER along the creek beyond the house.

Bridled Titmouse

Green-tailed Towhee

Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting

White-winged Dove

Arizona Gray Squirrel

Patagonia:

A brilliant male VERMILION FLYCATCHER was popular as ever.

Las Cienegas:

A drive throught the grasslands produced a nice group of PRONGHORN, plus NORTHERN HARRIER, PRAIRIE FALCON, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, and plenty of BREWER’S, VESPER and SAVANNAH SPARROWS.

Red-tailed Hawk

Western Meadowlark

Pronghorn

Pronghorn

Las Cienegas

Las Cienegas

Greaterville Rd / Box Canyon Rd / Madera Canyon Rd:

Driving over the pass at dusk we saw three GREAT HORNED OWLS and two BARN OWLS to end the day on a pleasing note.

Great Horned Owl

 

January 24th, 2017
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Patagonia Lake, Paton Center, Las Cienegas

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An excellent day of winter birding around Patagonia and Sonoita, with 79 species.

Patagonia Lake:

A pair of BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS was in the thick mesquite and hackberry bosque leading to Nutting’s Wash. We saw a few more continuing rarities in the first quarter mile of the Birding Trail: a WINTER WREN, a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, and an EASTERN PHOEBE.

Winter Wren

Winter Wren

Winter Wren

Also at the lake, MEXICAN MALLARD, BUFFLEHEAD, COMMON MERGANSER, PIED-BILLED GREBE, NEOTROPIC CORMORANT, GREAT EGRET, WILSON’S SNIPE, GRAY and DUSKY FLYCATCHERS, HUTTON’S VIREO, CANYON, HOUSE, MARSH and BEWICK’S WRENS for a five-wren morning, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, and RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW.

Mexican Duck (Mexican Mallard)

Mexican Duck (Mexican Mallard)

Rufous-winged Sparrow

Rufous-winged Sparrow

Probably the most unusual sighting, however, was this COCKRUM’S GRAY SHREW which we found running along in a bit of a daze, then climbing the trunk of a cottonwood tree! I didn’t realize that seeing a live shrew was such a rare event, and while this species is known from Arizona, there are no previous records in iNaturalist. Wow!

Cockrum's Gray Shrew (Notiosorex cockrumi)

A quick stop at Mayas Ct. on the way out of the park produced both BOTTERI’S and CASSIN’S SPARROWS with relative ease.

Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds, Patagonia:

Still fabulous, despite the current construction work. We were entertained by close views of WHITE-WINGED and INCA DOVES, ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD, GREEN-TAILED and ABERT’S TOWHEES, LARK and LINCOLN’S SPARROWS, and much more.

Gambel's Quail

Inca Dove

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Lincoln's Sparrow

Las Cienegas:

A drive through the grasslands in the afternoon added GREATER ROADRUNNER, HORNED LARK, WESTERN BLUEBIRD, CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR, and both WESTERN and ‘LILIAN’S’ EASTERN MEADOWLARKS.

S. River Rd, Nogales:

A GREAT HORNED OWL on wires by the road at dusk ended the day in style.

Great Horned Owl

 

January 23rd, 2017
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Peña Blanca Canyon, Palo Duro Creek GC, Paton Center, Las Cienegas

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A very pleasant day in mostly Santa Cruz County, despite strong winds and overcast skies.

Peña Blanca Canyon:

It was nice to see so much water running through the canyon, but it made it hard to hike and it was unusually cold and quiet. Looked good, though.

Palo Duro Creek GC:

A female HOODED MERGANSER was among the more regular winter ducks, while a WILSON’S SNIPE flushed from the water’s edge.

Paton Center, Patagonia:

Despite the backyard being closed for construction, the available feeders were busy and we enjoyed close views of WHITE-WINGED and INCA DOVES, several male ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRDS fighting over the feeders, ABERT’S TOWHEES, and a couple of PINE SISKINS.

Abert's Towhee

Abert's Towhee

Gambel's Quail

Inca Dove

Inca Dove

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-winged Dove

Las Cienegas:

Not surprisingly, the grasslands were hard work in the afternoon in strong winds, but we did see plenty of NORTHERN HARRIERS whizzing by, as well as COYOTE and BLACK-TAILED PRAIRIE-DOG.

Cottonwood Pond, Las Cienegas

American Kestrel

Black-tailed Prairie-Dog

Coyote

Vesper Sparrow

 

January 21st, 2017
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Rufous-backed Robin, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Mountain Plover

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An excellent day exploring the Santa Cruz Flats in Pinal County, even in gale force winds. At least we avoided the rain today.

We started at Evergreen Sod Farm, and after some searching spotted four MOUNTAIN PLOVERS flying across the fields and landing in the distance. We drove closer and a load more materialized for a total of 35. A couple of COMMON MERGANSERS were on a canal, and a wintering OSPREY flew by.

Mountain Plover

Mountain Plover

Osprey

Osprey

At Baumgartner Rd x Wheeler Rd, we didn’t find a Rufous-backed Roin but did see the continuing male RUDDY GROUND-DOVE with a bunch of INCA DOVES.

The usual section of sagebrush habitat north of Harmon Rd, a mile east of Sunland Gin Rd, produced the usual sagebrush specialties: several SAGEBRUSH SPARROW and a nice SAGE THRASHER.

Sagebrush Sparrow

Sagebrush Sparrow

Sage Thrasher

Sage Thrasher

Sage Thrasher

Sage Thrasher

A ‘HARLAN’S’ RED-TAILED HAWK, possibly wintering for its seventh year, was found along Green Reservoir Rd near Toltec Buttes Rd.

A GILDED FLICKER was a nice find along Greene Reservoir Rd just west of Picacho Hwy. A few MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS and LARK BUNTINGS were hanging out nearby.

Gilded Flicker

Gilded Flicker

Lark Bunting

Lark Bunting

Also in the flats, a couple of BLACK VULTURES, numerous NORTHERN HARRIERS, two HARRIS’S HAWKS, a FERRUGINOUS HAWK, a couple of flocks of LEAST SANDPIPERS, GREATER ROADRUNNER, BURROWING OWL, WHITE-THROATED SWIFT, PRAIRIE FALCON, loads of HORNED LARKS and AMERICAN PIPITS, and a BARN SWALLOW.

Burrowing Owl

Harris's Hawk

Back at Baumgartner Rd x Wheeler Rd, we got lucky with a five-second view of a RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN drinking from the garden hose at the side of the house.

Rufous-backed Robin

And after a full day driving the flats and actively looking, we finally connected with ten CRESTED CARACARAS just before dusk in the fields at Baumgartner Rd x Cripple Creek Rd (which we’d checked earlier). There must have been a plow somewhere with about 100 hungry caracaras behind it.