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?
 We 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.
We 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! 😀