Malcolm Chesworth joined me for an all-English “Birds of Fray” Birdathon, to benefit Tucson Audubon Society. At the very last minute, just to be different, we decided to restrict our efforts to just Santa Cruz County, which turned out to be a really fun idea that I think I’ll stick with for future Birdathons.
We ended on 116 species, a very decent total considering we did it on the fly with no planning, we only birded from dawn to dusk with no night birding, and bearing in mind the early date (the peak time for birdathons will be in a couple of weeks), and our self-imposed habitat restriction (we didn’t see any shorebirds or egrets, or high elevation species).
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Pena Blanca Lake:
A very smart white-striped WHITE-THROATED SPARROW popped up for photos on the south side of the cove that lies midway along the west side of the lake. It was in the exact same tangle I saw a White-throated Sparrow a couple of times in February, so it was presumably the same bird. That said, I had it down previously as a tan-striped, but I didn’t see it as well as I did this time, and it has presumably molted since.
I followed an unfamiliar song coming from cattails on the northern shore of the same cove, which proved to be a singing SWAMP SPARROW. There have been a couple of Swamp Sparrows here all winter, but I’ve never heard one singing before.
Also at the lake, ‘MEXICAN’ MALLARD, calling MONTEZUMA QUAIL, NEOTROPIC CORMORANT, GREEN HERON, BLACK VULTURE, OSPREY, GRAY and ZONE-TAILED HAWKS, COMMON GALLINULE, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, GRAY and DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHERS, TREE, VIOLET-GREEN and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, RUFOUS-CROWNED and RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROWS, and HOODED ORIOLE. We didn’t locate a Least Grebe in any of the coves we visited.
Pena Blanca Canyon (accessed by a dirt road heading south from Ruby Rd, 0.5 miles southwest of the Pena Blanca Lake turn):
Male ELEGANT TROGON calling about 0.5 miles down canyon.
Also, BLACK VULTURE, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, HAMMOND’S and DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHERS, BUSHTIT, ORANGE-CROWNED and BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLERS, PAINTED REDSTART, BREWER’S SPARROW, HEPATIC TANAGER, and my FOS BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK.
Walmart Pond, Nogales (SW corner of N. Mastick Way and W. White Park Dr.):
Three NORTHERN SHOVELERS, a RING-NECKED DUCK, and a flock of c.30 CLIFF SWALLOWS, plus a few BREWER’S BLACKBIRDS in the Walmart parking lot.
Three LESSER SCAUP, a RING-NECKED DUCK, calling VIRGINIA RAIL and SORA (the latter also seen), COMMON GROUND-DOVE, and HOODED ORIOLE.
Patagonia Lake Rd:
A couple of BOTTERI’S SPARROWS at the end of Atzeca Court.
Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds, Patagonia:
The GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW continues at feeders in the front yard. Around the back, INCA DOVE, and VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD.
A GREAT HORNED OWL was at Esplendor Resort. The area around my home in Rio Rico Northeast produced GREATER ROADRUNNER, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, and CACTUS WREN.
We had to travel out of Santa Cruz County to get to Madera Canyon, so dropped in to see if the LEWIS’S WOODPECKER was still at the previously-described location in Madera Highlands. It was, but we didn’t include it on our birdathon list.
At Santa Rita Lodge, WILD TURKEY, MAGNIFICENT HUMMINGBIRD, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, and DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER.
The SINALOA WREN gave a volley of ratchet calls and popped up for a reasonable view, at the previously-described Anza Trail location. It was in a medium-thickness tree with a large broken limb hanging down to the right side, a place I’ve seen it several times recently. This is viewable from the start of the short side trail that has been formed by birders looking for the wren, just south of the power line cut, on the east side of the Anza Trail.
Also there, WESTERN SCREECH-OWL and ABERT’S TOWHEE to round out the day.
A pair of BARN OWLS seen earlier in the day, my first in Santa Cruz County.
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