I spent the day birding with my friend Steve Nesbitt. It turned into something of an epic.
We started in the desert to the west of Continental Elementary School. As usual it gave us plenty of vocal RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROWS, plus a migrant GRAY FLYCATCHER, calling BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, and migrant WILSON’S WARBLER, LARK SPARROW and WESTERN TANAGER, all of which were seen at multiple sites throughout the day.
Moving on to Madera Canyon, we had good views of LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE and BOTTERI’S and CASSIN’S SPARROWS along the approach road. A quick stop at Proctor Road produced multiple VARIED BUNTINGS and BLUE GROSBEAKS in song, more BOTTERI’S SPARROWS, an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, a few WARBLING VIREOS and the first of many migrant WESTERN WOOD-PEWEES.
We hiked a third of a mile uphill on the Carrie Nation Trail and heard calling SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, but couldn’t get on it. Two flocks, one by the trailhead and one by the bench, contained PLUMBEOUS and HUTTON’S VIREOS, several BROWN CREEPERS, numerous PAINTED REDSTARTS, a BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER and lots of BRIDLED TITMICE. Also there, DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER and ARIZONA WOODPECKER. A quick stop at Madera Kubo produced VIOLET-CROWNED and MAGNIFICENT HUMMINGBIRDS.
We spent a few minutes with this ridiculously friendly Arizona Sister butterfly. Amazing!
Our next stop was Montosa Canyon. We parked at the concrete wash crossing and within 50 yards to the east we found a showy, singing FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW and a family party of at least five BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS, as well as VARIED BUNTING, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, CANYON WREN and more.
Continuing south, Rio Rico had a GREAT EGRET on the railroad pond and a molting male INDIGO BUNTING with LESSER GOLDFINCHES in the wet corner by the intersection of Rio Rico Dr and Pendleton Dr.
We stopped in at Pena Blanca Lake briefly. There were a pair of adult LEAST GREBES simultaneously looking after two juveniles whilst building a nest near the old boat ramp. As we left Pena Blanca Lake we saw a roadside RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW for another five-Aimophila day.
We heard and then had good views of two THICK-BILLED KINGBIRDS at Patagonia Roadside Rest. Along Blue Haven Road we found three ZONE-TAILED HAWKS, LAZULI BUNTINGS and an INCA DOVE. Paton’s was great, with lots of hummingbirds including RUFOUS and VIOLET-CROWNED, plus calling GRAY HAWK, a pair of COMMON GROUND-DOVES, YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER, ABERT’S TOWHEE and plenty more.
Phew! We ended with 86 species on a really special day in birding paradise.