A successful day of target birding in the Santa Rita Mountains and Santa Cruz Valley, the main birds all found, but not without a bit of effort. 68 species in total.
We eventually found a male BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER further down canyon than I’ve seen them lately (or looked for them, to be honest). It was mostly silent, which could indicate that nesting is underway. There are multiple pairs throughout the canyon, but this bird was about 0.25 miles down canyon from the 62A/481 intersection, or 0.5 miles before the parking area if you prefer.
Just look at the bill on that!
Adult male ELEGANT TROGON just beyond the first creek crossing, which is right at the parking area. Located by the quiet chuckle call they often do in winter.
Also there, GREATER ROADRUNNER, GRAY FLYCATCHER, HERMIT THRUSH, GREEN-TAILED, SPOTTED and CANYON TOWHEES, and singing RUFOUS-CROWNED and nesting RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROWS.
A quick drive through at Whitehouse Picnic Area revealed RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER and ACORN WOODPECKER taking turns at the Red-breasted Sapsucker’s regular tree, so the star bird went unseen by us.
The LEWIS’S WOODPECKER continues at Playground of the Pecans in Madera Highlands, which is on N Campbell Ave, 0.75 miles beyond the first roundabout when arriving from Madera Highlands Parkway. The park can be viewed from the public road.
Anza Trail, Tubac:
The SINALOA WREN continues, 0.8 miles south of the bridge at Bridge Rd, just south of the power line cut. It was ratchet-calling repeatedly – a knowledge of this and other vocalizations is almost essential when locating this bird. Listen here . It eventually showed well enough for me to get my first identifiable record shots of this bird in the 18 months it’s been there, off and on.
Also there, PLUMBEOUS VIREO, and plenty of BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRDS and RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROWS.
Ron Morriss Park, Tubac:
We arrived at the hawk watch just before midday, in perfect time to witness the 30th COMMON BLACK HAWK of the morning. Again, really good to see so many familiar faces.
The PACIFIC LOON continues, along with a female BUFFLEHEAD and a couple of NEOTROPIC CORMORANTS.
We spent a while in the afternoon exploring the area that a Rufous-capped Warbler was reported recently. We parked at the end of the jeep trail at around 5.5 km and walked only a little way back down the trail, then back down the road to the 5 km mark, so we didn’t reach the right spot due to time and group mobility. The habitat in this little-watched, higher part of the canyon is reminiscent of the upper reaches of Florida Canyon, although drier. The area below the 4.5km marker looks more lush and possibly has some water, which would make it very suitable for this species. It should be noted that the road up to this point, and beyond to Mt. Hopkins Observatory, is easy enough to drive, but it’s not for everyone, as it’s a narrow and winding dirt road, with steep drops, few passing places, and more traffic than you’d expect.
Also in this higher part of the canyon, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, singing HUTTON’S VIREOS, WESTERN SCRUB-JAY, BUSHTIT, HERMIT THRUSH, BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, and RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW. A BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER was at the 2 km mark, and RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROWS were singing up a storm along the road in. We didn’t stop at the culvert or other more regularly-birded spots.