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April 26th, 2010
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AveVentura Birdathon 2010

The AveVentura birdathon team got together for the 2010 effort, to benefit Tucson Audubon Society. We managed 110 species last year… could we beat it?

Harriss-Hawk-Sweetwater-10-0424-01Harriss-Hawk-Sweetwater-10-0424-02We started at Sweetwater at 6:oo and put in a good shift around the ponds, the recharge basins and along the road. We were left a bit light on shorebirds and ducks but after three hours we’d passed 50 species with highlights including a pair of AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES in a mulberry in the grounds of Roger Rd Treatment Plant with a male WESTERN TANAGER nearby, a flyover PRAIRIE FALCON and HARRIS’S HAWKS and CEDAR WAXWINGS everywhere. On the recharge basins, several pairs of CINNAMON and at least three pairs of BLUE-WINGED TEAL, a few AMERICAN AVOCETS, BLACK-NECKED STILTS and a couple of spotty SPOTTED SANDPIPERS.

Great-Horned-Owl-Ft-Lowell-Pk-10-0424-01We made a pass by a couple of Tucson sites, Ft. Lowell Park giving us a fine GREAT HORNED OWL. But it was time to head south. Via a largely unsuccessful stop at Las Cienegas we arrived at Paton’s and soon racked up some great birds: VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD, HOODED and BULLOCK’S ORIOLES, soaring GRAY HAWK, INCA DOVES, LAZULI BUNTINGS, a couple of ACORN WOODPECKERS (displaced by an event in the park) and lots of other goodies. Thanks as always to Michael Marsden for pointing them all out.

We added a few more to the list along Blue Haven Road, including BLACK VULTURE, CANYON TOWHEE and WILSON’S WARBLER.

A SOLITARY SANDPIPER at Rio Rico was a bonus, as were two GREEN HERONS, a GREAT EGRET and 40 or so WHITE-FACED IBIS.

We were still a way short and arriving late in the day, Madera Canyon had to deliver. It did – SCOTT’S ORIOLE, HEPATIC TANAGER and PAINTED REDSTART were added at Kubo Cabins and Santa Rita Lodge produced ARIZONA WOODPECKER, BLACK-THROATED GRAY and TOWNSEND’S WARBLERS, a surprise BAND-TAILED PIGEON coming to drink and eventually EFL OWL calling from inside their pole, where they defiantly stayed. A COMMON POORWILL flying across the road as we headed out made it 113 for the day, short of our 120 target but still a new record for the AveVentura team.

It was fun, hard work, and ultimately very rewarding, as we’ve raised a bunch of money for Tucson Audubon. Many thanks to those who sponsored AveVentura this year. It’s not too late to sponsor the team (click here) and I’m going around again next week on my own, with camera to the fore, in Richard’s Photothon 2010 (click here). Please get involved in Birdathon: it’s great! 😀

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