Day eight of the tour was another long day as we headed north to Phoenix, with lots of miles covered, and some unique target birds seen.
The Thrasher Spot, west of Buckeye:
Our main target here was Le Conte’s Thrasher, and we heard one singing as soon as we got out of the car, but we couldn’t locate it. Over the next couple of hours we found double figures of BENDIRE’S THRASHERS, including recently-fledged young, before heading back to the car. On a whim we decided to give it one more try for ten minutes before leaving, and to our delight we found and followed two LE CONTE’S THRASHER right away, apparently an adult and a begging juvenile. Sometimes, a bit of extra perseverance pays off!
Also there, HORNED LARK, and multiple pairs of BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHERS.
Nearby, we were delighted to get close views of a pair of BURROWING OWLS by the roadside, one of which was incongruously perched high on an overhead wire. Another flew across the road soon after, giving interesting daytime flight views. Cool!
Baseline & Meridian Wildlife Area:
This was a new site for me, and while we didn’t locate our target, the recently-split Ridgeway’s Rail (formerly a subspecies of Clapper Rail) in the midday sun, we did find some expected birds of an impressive wetland such as this. They included SNOWY EGRET, GREEN HERON, COMMON GALLINULE, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, YELLOW WARBLER, bundles of ABERT’S TOWHEES, and our unique Southwestern subspecies of SONG SPARROW, which many visiting birders from either coast are almost unwilling to accept is the same species as the ones they’re familiar with, because they look so different. Having seen the Mexican subspecies of CLIFF SWALLOW further south, it was good to contrast the more regular Northern subspecies nesting under the bridge, with their bright white foreheads.
Encanto Park, Phoenix:
Unlike my previous visits here when I heard them calling before we had even parked the car, it took quite a long time to locate ROSY-FACED LOVEBIRDS in the afternoon heat, but we eventually found a few snoozing in a mesquite tree, then heading back and forth from a palm tree, where they were presumably nesting.
Also in the park, several CANADA GEESE, which are only noteworthy to someone living in SE Arizona, and likewise multiple INCA DOVES, which have become a rarity in Tucson but continue to thrive in Phoenix. A GILDED FLICKER rounded out the birds that seem to be far easier to see in this city than it’s more southerly cousin.