- Southeast Arizona Birding Guide, Richard Fray - https://www.arizonabirder.com -

Buckeye thrasher spot, Santa Cruz Flats

Jenise Porter and I spent a very pleasant day birding the thrasher spot near Buckeye and the Santa Cruz Flats.

We spent almost six hours at the thrasher spot but couldn’t rustle up a Le Conte’s Thrasher, despite other birders telling us about two supposedly to the south of the road and three to the north. We did find four BENDIRE’S THRASHERS and a single SAGE THRASHER though. We also enjoyed 20+ SAGE SPARROWS, including my best ever views, plus an early ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER and flyover TREE, BARN and an early CLIFF SWALLOW.

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We enjoyed lots of  BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHERS including four having an enormous noisy fight. A good number of TURKEY VULTURES passed overhead, reminding us that spring is on the way, while a calling SANDHILL CRANE, which we never saw, let us know that winter was not quite over. ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRDS were everywhere and displaying furiously. It was nice to see a few lizards out in the warm sunshine, most of which appeared to be COMMON SIDE-BLOTCHED LIZARDS. From under a mesquite tree we also flushed a COYOTE, which slunk off in typical fashion.

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Even though we were there for a long time, and the habitat is most generously described as ‘sparse’, it felt like we’d only been there a short while as there was lots of wildlife to marvel at and search for in this intruiging area.

Heading back south in the late afternoon, we passed through the Santa Cruz Flats. Something of a lucky area for me this winter, it once more gave us our main target bird when we found 41 MOUNTAIN PLOVERS along the 2750 road north of Pretzer between Curry and Tweedy. We had excellent views of these scarce shorebirds with the glowing late afternoon sun right behind us.

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We also saw MERLIN, FERRUGINOUS HAWK, LARK BUNTINGS, various sparrows and a couple of GREAT HORNED OWLS at dusk to round off another fine birding day in Arizona! 😀