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February 21st, 2009
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Winter trogon

Another day, another opportunity to get out birding. This time it was another new friend, Susan, and her friend Clare, who are new birders and wanted a helping hand. They both live in Green Valley, so where else could I take them but Madera Canyon?

We started at Florida Canyon though, with the possibility of finding the Rufous-capped Warblers currently in residence. Whilst I’ve birded Florida Wash a fair few times, I’d not been to the canyon proper before and I was impressed. It’s very picturesque and the birding was good (the potential even better). I could also see exactly why the Rufous-capped Warblers have chosen this canyon over Madera Canyon next door. The habitat is presumably perfect for them, as the spot they’ve occupied for the past couple of months looks almost identical to the part of Sycamore Canyon I saw my first one in Arizona, and not unlike French Joe Canyon, the other main site in recent years for this species. All three sites have an almost subtropical feel – perenial, well-vegetated streams with fairly steep desert grassland slopes either side. Anyway, we didn’t see them, although other birders did so they are still there.

We did see an adult Golden Eagle soaring high above the ridge on several occasions, as well as a Dusky Flycatcher and a pair of wintering Hepatic Tanagers. There was a touch of spring in the air, with a few butterflies on the wing including Spring Azure and Sara Orangetip, the latter a new species for me (I’ve almost certainly seen them before but this is the first time I’ve got a positive ID).

We ate lunch at Santa Rita Lodge whilst watching the feeders. All the usual suspects were there, plus added entertainment in the form of a group of Wild Turkeys. I say “wild”…

Next stop was the Kubo cabins. A fruiting tree here has attracted a host of interesting species over the past two weeks, and didn’t disappoint today. Having seen my first Williamson’s Sapsucker only two months ago, a male, it was nice to see a female. You can see why they were originally thought to be two different species when you compare how the males look.

Star of the show, though, was a fine male Elegant Trogon, formerly very rare in winter but these days becoming more expected. He came in to feed, swooping dramatically and plucking berries in a flurry of feathers.

There were lots of other birds around the feeders, including a Magnificent Hummingbird, Arizona Woodpecker and a showy Painted Redstart.

It had been another amazing day in SE Arizona and we left happy with our haul. Thanks to Susan and Clare for the great company! 😀

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