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February 7th, 2010
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Madera Canyon, Reid Park, Woodland Rd

Cooper's-Hawk-Reid-Park-020710-01I joined Clare, Susan Fallon, and Ellen West for a trip to Madera Canyon. Leaving Tucson in uncharacteristic heavy rain, I was somewhat dubious and it proved to be a problem all morning. A White-winged Dove was in full song at Continental as I passed through. We explored the area around the school where I eventually located a Rufous-winged Sparrow, but unfortunately only managed a brief view and couldn’t refind it to show to the girls. A rain shower disrupted our walk in a birdless Florida Wash, and again as soon as we arrived at Proctor Road. We decided to head to Santa Rita Lodge, where we could at least watch a few birds from the car. Oddly, in comparison to the previous visit, the feeders were thick with birds despite the heavy rain. We compared the juncos, the Yellow-eyed with three forms of Dark-eyed, and saw good numbers of Pine Siskins, close Spotted Towhees and 18 Wild Turkeys, my highest count. But unusually for Southeast Arizona, the weather had beaten us and after hanging around in the middle of a very wet cloud for a while, we all headed home.

The rain cleared away in the afternoon, so Jenise Porter, Ed Tobin and I tried a couple of Tucson sites. The various ponds at Reid Park produced several interesting birds: an early Tree Swallow, a Belted Kingfisher, 16 Canvasbacks, Lesser Scaups on every pond and the highlight, four Hooded Mergansers, two females, an immature male and a fine adult male. We also enjoyed Vermilion Flycatchers, Western Bluebirds, a beautiful male American Kestrel and Cooper’s Hawks everywhere, including good looks at an adult bird that had caught prey (possibly a bluebird). The ducks were especially entertaining and we had really nice views of Lesser Scaup and Canvasback amongst others.

Canvasback-Reid-Park-020710-02Lesser-Scaup-Reid-Park-020710-01Lesser-Scaup-Reid-Park-020710-03

Lesser-Scaup-Reid-Park-020710-02Lesser-Scaup-Reid-Park-020710-04Ring-necked-Duck-Reid-Park-020710-01

Ring-necked-Duck-Reid-Park-020710-02Hooded-Merganser-Reid-Park-020710-02Hooded-Merganser-Reid-Park-020710-05

Hooded-Merganser-Reid-Park-020710-10Hooded-Merganser-Reid-Park-020710-11

 

We then headed to Woodland Road, a “rural” road in northeast Tucson. There’s always good birding here, and today was no exception. We looked for a Lewis’s Woodpecker and Jenise quickly located it in the grove where it had previously been reported. It’s a really wacky bird, Lewis’s Woodpecker, the strangest woodpecker I’ve ever seen. Very few, if any other birds are a combination of green, red, Lewis's-Woodpecker-Woodland-Rd-020710-01Lewis's-Woodpecker-Woodland-Rd-020710-04gray and genuine pink. Mad! At least this one was behaving like a woodpecker by pecking some wood, and not flycatching from the top of a tree like they often do.

Our good luck with woodpeckers continued, with Gila and Ladder-backed, Red-naped Sapsucker, Northern Flicker and a splendid pair of Gilded Flickers. We watched the male get very agitated, frequently showing the yellow shafts of the tail feathers, as he inspected a potential nest hole. We admired more brilliant Vermilion Flycatchers and various other birds, and ended the day with a Great Horned Owl leaving its roost and heading out into a gorgeous sunset.

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