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

Patagonia Lake Free Bird Walk

A few interesting sightings among 66 species on today’s Patagonia Lake State Park free bird walk, which concentrated on the birding trail at the eastern end of the lake. We struck out on trogons and bitterns, but there was plenty of other good stuff. Now that my camera and lens are both working again, Murphy compensated by giving me battery and charger problems, so I was back to horrible, fuzzy phone-scoped images.

The adult BROWN PELICAN continues, and was seen flying over various parts of the lake.

After the recent influx, I was on the lookout for gulls. We were rewarded with a RING-BILLED and three BONAPARTE’S GULLS, the latter being a new bird for my Santa Cruz County list. You’ll have to trust me that these white blobs are in fact Bonaparte’s Gulls!

Bonaparte's Gulls [1]

Ducks included CANVASBACK, LESSER SCAUP and BUFFLEHEAD. Both NEOTROPIC and DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS were present, as was a GREAT EGRET. Shorebirds included a SPOTTED and five LEAST SANDPIPERS, and a WILSON’S SNIPE.

Several BLACK VULTURES were overhead, and an OSPREY cruised by a few times.

Passerine highlights included a GRAY and a couple of ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHERS, a few PLUMBEOUS and one CASSIN’S VIREO, absolutely loads of RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS, several BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS, several BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLERS and a very late, presumably wintering YELLOW WARBLER.

I returned to the visitor center, where there were a couple of WHITE-WINGED and four INCA DOVES. I was asked by Park Ranger Pat (who is a real asset to the park) to check a white goose by the slipway at the western end of the lake (part of the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, permit required). It proved to be an immature SNOW GOOSE, my second new bird for Santa Cruz County of the day. While I was watching the goose, three BONAPARTE’S GULLS flew in, presumably the three seen earlier at the east end of the lake.

Snow Goose [2]

Snow Goose [3]

Finally, a bit of non-birding news: one of the two ‘temporary’ bridges over the creek at the eastern end of the lake, introduced last year, is now back, affording easy access to the excellent habitat beyond. The other, smaller bridge was lost during the monsoon season. It was removed from the creek in preparation for the monsoon, but a presumably well-meaning visitor put it back, and it was washed away and lost.