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January 30th, 2017
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Nutting’s Flycatcher at California Gulch again

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We tried to replicate yesterday’s successful target birding at California Gulch and Tumacacori, with varying results.

California Gulch:

It took more than three hours, but we eventually found the NUTTING’S FLYCATCHER, in an area we had already searched three times previously. As with my previous sightings, it was always on the move, working the denser sections of habitat and flying across the more open areas.

Nutting's Flycatcher

Nutting's Flycatcher

While we searched we also encountered SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, GRAY FLYCATCHER, CANYON WREN, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, HERMIT THRUSH, calling CRISSAL THRASHER, and BLACK-THROATED SPARROW.

Tumacacori:

We devoted the rest of the day to finding a Rose-throated Becard along the Santa Cruz River, but despite our best efforts, we came up empty. We did see a flyover GREAT EGRET, GREATER ROADRUNNER, BRIDLED TITMOUSE, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, GREEN-TAILED and ABERT’S TOWHEES, RUFOUS-WINGED, LARK, SONG and LINCOLN’S SPARROWS, and HEPATIC TANAGER. We also saw a couple of roosting GREAT HORNED OWLS, one of which was being constantly harassed by a pair of COMMON RAVENS, which kept flushing it and chasing it for about 30 minutes.

As we headed for the parking lot at dusk, a pair of WESTERN SCREECH-OWLS started up a delightful duet. Another GREAT HORNED OWL was by I-19 to end the day.

 

January 29th, 2017
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Nutting's Flycatcher, Rose-throated Becard

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A successful day of target birding in Santa Cruz County, with two major national rarities.

California Gulch:

Our main target for the day was the extremely rare NUTTING’S FLYCATCHER that has been present for a month or so. It took a while but we eventually tracked it down and enjoyed great views.

Also in the area, we found SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, GRAY FLYCATCHER, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, ROCK WREN, HERMIT THRUSH, LARK and BLACK-THROATED SPARROWS, HEPATIC TANAGER, and PYRRHULOXIA.

Oro Blanco Wash:

This is often a productive spot and today was no exception. Feeding by the roadside we found a few WESTERN BLUEBIRDS and three surprise SAGE THRASHERS.

Sage Thrasher

Amado:

A GREATER ROADRUNNER was at the roadside and a TURKEY VULTURE drifted over.

Anza Trail, Tumacacori:

There have been several ROSE-THROATED BECARDS wintering along the Santa Cruz, but they’ve been frustratingly difficult to find. Today we were in luck when another birder pointed out a smart male feeding high in an early-flowering cottonwood tree.

Rose-throated Becard

Rose-throated Becard

Also here, HUTTON’S VIREO, BRIDLED TITMOUSE, AMERICAN ROBIN, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, ABERT’S TOWHEE, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, and HEPATIC TANAGER.

Rock Corral Canyon:

A quick visit late afternoon produced a few birds as the sun sank below the mountains, the most notable being a DARK-EYED JUNCO of either the Slate-colored or Cassiar forms, or a hybrid (I hope that covers it!). We also found NORTHERN HARRIER, CANYON WREN, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, as well as the always entertaining ANTELOPE JACKRABBIT.

Dark-eyed Junco - Slate-colored or Cassiar or hybrid

 

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