Birding Blog Archives

September 5th, 2008
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Patagonia for the Sinaloa

The day before I left for California, Matt Brown and Robin Baxter found a Sinaloa Wren at Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve here in SE Arizona, a first record for the USA.

Bruce has a very big list, it’s fair to say. In fact, in the lower 48 states he’s seen more species than only two or three other people and is one of a small handful to have seen more than 800 species in the ABA area (these tables only include those who have uploaded their totals so are not totally accurate). Ergo, new birds are quite important to Bruce. The day the wren was found, Bruce was heading back from dipping out on a Jabiru Stork in Texas. He was way behind on work and had me to put up with, and now this wren. The immediate plan was to fly straight back on the Saturday afternoon with me, but as the days progressed the wren eventually settled into a pattern and he put it off until Friday 5th.

Bruce and Bren arrived at Tucson airport a little before midnight, so we only got a few hours kip before setting off for Blue Haven Road about a quarter of a mile southwest of the Patons’ house in Patagonia.

Well, to cut a long story short, I’d had enough by 9:00 and we went for breakfast (which was excellent, by the way – The Home Plate in the Stage Stop Inn), with Bruce having seen the bird briefly a number of times, and me having seen not one bit of it. Beautiful song though, the tone very reminiscent of a Nightingale. I was keeping an eye out for a Northern Waterthrush that had been seen the day before, but that had gone. We returned after breakfast but true to form the wren wasn’t seen again that day, and we soon wandered off along the road to look for a Yellow-throated Vireo, which would be a new bird for me in Arizona. Yet again, it was heard but not seen.

By this point I was feeling a bit miserable, but, of all things, a patch of lush roadside weeds instantly cheered me up. For whatever reason, a 30 yard stretch of verge was dripping with insects, most notably grasshoppers which reached almost plague proportions (many of them were locusts, after all). I’ve got the grasshoppers ID book now so at some point I’ll have a stab at naming these.

Butterflies included Dull Firetip, Eleda and Tiny Checkerspot, Black and Pipevine Swallowtails, Texan Crescent, Bordered Patch and more. There was a bright Flame Skimmer dragonfly, several White-lined Sphinx moths feeding on flowers, some very funky caterpillars and a really nice, big, friendly bumble bee.

Feeling far better about life in general, we headed off home via the somewhat circuitous route of Tombstone, where we ate an ice cream and laughed at the cowboys.

Writing this, as I am, on September 17th, the wren is still there and the hummingbird feeders at Paton’s are currently hosting Ruby-throated Hummer and Plain-capped Starthroat, all of which might prompt a return visit in the next few days…

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