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September 11th, 2014
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Least Grebes, Five-striped Sparrow, Thick-billed Kingbird

More great birding, mostly in the Atascosa Mountains to the west of Nogales, with 87 species in all. It’s an interesting time of year, when you don’t know if you’ll encounter migrants, a few early winter birds, or some late departing breeders. Today, we managed all three.

Ruby Road, west of Nogales:
GRAY HAWK, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, ‘Azure’ EASTERN BLUEBIRDS, and RUFOUS-WINGED, BOTTERI’S, CHIPPING, and LARK SPARROWS.

California Gulch:
The road in to California Gulch got ripped up somewhat by last Monday’s storms, but it’s fairly easily passable with a high clearance 4×4. The two really big puddles between Ruby Rd and the dam actually look bigger than recent times, but the huge amount of silt that must have been deposited mean that they are now slightly shallower (only 18 inches to two feet deep). The gulch itself was wetter than usual, and we were only able to get to the fourth creek crossing before we turned back instead of wading further.

California Gulch

California Gulch

Quite a change from my previous few visits, FIVE-STRIPED SPARROWS were still present, but hardly singing and much harder to see. We did eventually see half a dozen, including a juvenile.
Also, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, a pair of NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULETS, DUSKY and DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHERS, HUTTON’S and WARBLING VIREOS, ORANGE-CROWNED, NASHVILLE, YELLOW, TOWNSEND’S and WILSON’S WARBLERS, RUFOUS-CROWNED and BLACK-THROATED SPARROWS, SUMMER TANAGER, VARIED BUNTING, and HOODED ORIOLE.

California Gulch Dam:
At the pond a quarter mile down canyon from the dam, I found four LEAST GREBES again, but this time it was two adults and two juveniles. Last time it was one adult and three juveniles, so I’ve seen at least five individuals here over my last two visits. The juveniles are less stripy-headed now, but still different from the adults. They seem to spend most time hidden from view underneath the overhanging willows, but they give good views when they do come out.

Least Grebe

Least Grebe

Juvenile Least Grebe

Juvenile Least Grebe and Sonoran Mud Turtle

Least Grebe

Least Grebe

Least Grebe

Also, a pair of BLUE-WINGED TEAL, GRAY HAWK, a surprise juvenile SORA, PACIFIC-SLOPE and DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHERS, NASHVILLE, YELLOW, and WILSON’S WARBLERS, SUMMER TANAGER, and VARIED BUNTING.

Sora

Sora

My little dog Minno, who was along for the ride, found a Sonoran Gophersnake! Thankfully, all protagonists were unharmed, although the snake hissed a lot and adopted a threat posture for a while.

Sonoran Gophersnake

Sonoran Gophersnake

Sonoran Gophersnake

Sonoran Gophersnake

Sonoran Gophersnake

Not only is this a fabulous area for wildlife, it’s also particularly scenic.

California Gulch Dam

California Gulch Dam

California Gulch Dam

Arivaca Lake:
Two THICK-BILLED KINGBIRDS remain in the large trees by the parking lot and bathrooms.
An impressive number of migrants were in this area, including GRAY and PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHERS, BELL’S and WARBLING VIREOS, LUCY’S, MacGILLIVRAY’S, NASHVILLE, YELLOW, TOWNSEND’S, and WILSON’S WARBLERS, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, ABERT’S TOWHEE, RUFOUS-WINGED, CHIPPING, LARK, and my FOS immature WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, and SUMMER TANAGER.
Also, an OSPREY flew over, and GRAY HAWK, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and LAZULI BUNTING were around.

Santa Rita Lodge, Madera Canyon:
The usual five hummingbird species, but it seems the Plain-capped Starthroats have not been seen since Sunday 7 September, and the White-eared Hummingbird has been absent for a couple of days at least.
I did find my FOS RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER and there was plenty of action at the feeders.

 

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