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April 30th, 2011
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Birds of Fray Birdathon 2011

In my second Birdathon of the season, the ‘expert-led’ team, Birds of Fray, took to the road. It wasn’t much of a team – in fact, it was just me. Mind you, I thought I led myself somewhat expertly!

If you’d like to sponsor me for this Birdathon (and I’m sure you can’t wait) please go to: https://tucsonaudubon.dojiggy.com/birdsoffray. Buy tenormin online Thank you.

I ended on a total of 144 species, a personal record for me in SE Arizona by some 20 species. That wasn’t bad considering I was a touch ‘delicate’ due to a friend’s keg-based 40th birthday party the night before, plus I couldn’t be bothered with night birds (translation: due to the keg, I was physically incapable of looking for night birds). Imagine how many I could see if I worked out a proper route, did some research beforehand, was both awake and sober and crucially, if I actually put in a bit of effort… 😀

Here are some highlights:

Sweetwater Wetlands:
The biggest surprise was a BARN OWL seen twice in flight early morning, first flying from a cottonwood near the ramada to the nearby island, followed by a Night-Heron, and then again between the ponds and recharge basins. My biggest disappointment was somehow missing Jerry Bock. Two SOLITARY SANDPIPERS were finding some habitat around the ponds (not the recharge basins). There was a WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE in the same spot as last week. A DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT flew over, a few (singing) BREWER’S SPARROWS continue and it was nice to see an INCA DOVE in the Santa Cruz river bed.

Christopher Columbus Park:
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT.

Reid Park:
Continuing RING-NECKED DUCK, AMERICAN WIGEON and ROSS’S GOOSE, plus LESSER SCAUP on the pond behind the Hardesty building.

Continental School:
The usual RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROWS and other desert dwellers. I saw a probable Vaux’s Swift zooming over the desert but unfortunately I was taking a pee behind a bush and couldn’t look at it through my binoculars!

Florida Canyon:
A small collection of tents and a large flock of boy scouts. Not much point birding there so I didn’t.

Florida Wash:
WARBLING VIREO, PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER, TOWNSEND’S and HERMIT WARBLERS.

Madera Canyon:
WILD TURKEY, DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHERS, plenty of TOWNSEND’S and HERMIT WARBLERS plus the usual good stuff around the feeders. A quick midday hike up canyon was pretty much pointless but I didn’t give it very long.

Amado Pond:
Two BLACK-NECKED STILTS, an AMERICAN AVOCET, a LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER and a few WILSON’S PHALAROPES looked like being quite important until I saw all those species and many more at Willcox later in the day.

Rio Rico:
About 30 BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING DUCKS, a GREAT EGRET and a GREEN HERON on the pond near the railroad tracks. SWAINSON’S HAWK overhead. I looked at a bunch of kingbirds all day but alas I couldn’t find a Tropical.

Kino Springs:
Two CANVASBACKS on the little recharge ponds along the private road opposite the club house, plus a male YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD.

Patagonia Roadside Rest:
SWAINSON’S THRUSH, CEDAR WAXWING, BLACK VULTURE, WHITE-THROATED SWIFTS.

Paton’s:
VIOLET-CROWNED, RUFOUS and BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRDS amongst others, plus YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT and GRAY HAWKS. As always, thank you Michael.

Willcox:
A LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE on wires on the edge of town. Could be a late wintering bird although they have bred in this general area recently.

Willcox Twin Lakes:
Six CASPIAN TERNS, 18 RING-BILLED GULLS and three FRANKLIN’S GULLS were the obvious stars. On the shorebird front, single SEMIPALMATED PLOVER and WILLET were among the hundreds of peeps, most of which were LEAST SANDPIPERS with a few WESTERNS in the mix. I didn’t spend too long scrutinizing them. Likewise, there were lots of WILSON’S PHALAROPES but I couldn’t find the Red-necked in a hurried search. There were a number of lingering ducks, including CINNAMON and BLUE-WINGED TEAL, NORTHERN PINTAIL and NORTHERN SHOVELER. PRAIRIE FALCON and SWAINSON’S HAWK were overhead.

Caspian-Tern-Willcox-11-0430-01

Caspian Tern

Miss of the day… you wouldn’t think it was possible… I normally see them hourly in Tucson… yet today, I managed to avoid Cooper’s Hawk all day! Go figure.

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