Birding Blog Archives

August 20th, 2011
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Mt Lemmon

The inaugural Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival continues. Today, I led a field trip to Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains. We had a full and enthusiastic van load of festival goers and we set off bright and early.


Birding on Mt Lemmon

As day broke, we found our first interesting bird at the base of the mountain. A field trip yesterday had located a VARIED BUNTING, unusual in the Santa Catalinas, and as soon as we got out of the van at the base of the mountain by the sign as you enter the Coronado National Forest, it was there, singing its head off. It’s a first-summer male, basically brownish with a few purple feathers just starting to peep through.

Moving up, we saw more desert species at Babad Do’ag Vista, including BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER and BLACK-THROATED SPARROW, whilst a migrant WESTERN TANAGER gave good views. Windy Vista provided mid elevations species such as CANYON WREN, calling BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER and a juvenile PEREGRINE FALCON, probably one from the nesting site relatively nearby.

We moved straight up to the top of the mountain to look for high elevation species. In Summerhaven we found an ORANGE-CROWNED and several VIRGINIA’S WARBLERS, calling CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER, WESTERN BLUEBIRD, SPOTTED TOWHEE and great views of STELLER’S JAY and YELLOW-EYED JUNCO by the realtor’s office. Elsewhere high on the mountain we found ZONE-TAILED HAWK and WARBLING VIREO.

We visited a cabin which had feeders with MAGNIFICENT and CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRDS, PINE SISKINS and close views of more mountain birds.

At Bear Wallow we found a mixed flock and settled in to watch. It turned out that the birds were coming down to bathe and drink at a couple of small puddles by the side of the road. We had amazing views of MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, HERMIT THRUSH, HERMIT WARBLER and RED-FACED WARBLER. When the latter came in and landed on the ground at close range, there was the distinctive sound of a mega-bird giving mind-blowing views when everyone, myself included, said “aaaaaahhhhhh, wow!” in perfect harmony. Quite a memorable moment.

We continued birding our way down the mountain without adding anything too remarkable, but enjoying a beautiful day in the stunning Santa Catalina mountains.

Congratulations to all the staff and volunteers of Tucson Audubon Society, in particular Erin Olmstead and Paul Green, for putting on an amazing first Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival. The dates for next year’s festival are: August 15-19 2012. Make a note in your diary now! 😀

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