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May 25th, 2015
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Seven Black-capped Gnatcatchers, Two Buff-collared Nightjars

A fabulous day of birding, from the Santa Ritas to the Atascosas, with 81 species and two major personal highlights.

Green Valley:

To start the day on a good note, I found a juvenile GIANT MESQUITE BUG in the hotel parking lot.

Juvenile Giant Mesquite Bug

Madera Canyon:

We didn’t see the Plain-capped Starthroat at Santa Rita Lodge, and neither has anyone for a couple of days, it seems. We did, however, find the usual sparkling variety of birds around the lodge and feeders, including WILD TURKEY, MAGNIFICENT HUMMINGBIRD, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, calling SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, several gorgeous male BLUE GROSBEAKS, a female INDIGO BUNTING, male BRONZED COWBIRD, and female SCOTT’S ORIOLE. Thanks Steve!

Blue Grosbeak

Bronzed Cowbird

Florida Canyon:

I was delighted to find a pair of BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS building a new nest, high in an oak tree about 50 yards before the metal gate. We watched in wonder as they hurriedly collected first spider web, then flakes of bark, to layer the nest.

Black-capped Gnatcatcher

Black-capped Gnatcatcher

Black-capped Gnatcatcher

Black-capped Gnatcatcher nest site

Black-capped Gnatcatcher

Black-capped Gnatcatcher

Black-capped Gnatcatcher

Also in the canyon we found nesting GRAY HAWKS, a high-soaring GOLDEN EAGLE (which also has a nest high in the canyon), and a stunning VARIED BUNTING. We didn’t go up for the Rufous-capped Warblers.

Varied Bunting

Arivaca Rd:

A ZONE-TAILED HAWK drifted over near Arivaca.

Arivaca Lake:

A pair of THICK-BILLED KINGBIRDS continue in the dead-looking cottonwoods on the opposite side of the parking lot to the bathrooms. Also there, GRAY HAWK, and BOTTERI’S SPARROW along the approach road.

Thick-billed Kingbirds

Vermilion Flycatcher

California Gulch:

FIVE-STRIPED SPARROWS were easy to find, despite our late arrival at 6:00 p.m., with at least a dozen seen from midway down the hill to the fourth (dry) creek crossing.

Five-striped Sparrow

A family group of five BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS (one adult male with black cap, four female/juvenile types) were found at what I think of as the start of their habitat, just after the fourth crossing, which is just over 0.5 miles down canyon from the parking area. A female-type BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER joined them for a good comparison.

Black-capped Gnatcatcher

Also there, VARIED BUNTING.

Confluence of California Gulch and Warsaw Canyon:

A BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJAR, first found on March 31st, began calling at 7:38 p.m., and proceeded to give us unexpectedly amazing views, both perched and in flight, until 8:00 p.m. when we left. To make it even better, we heard a second bird in the same area. It was by far my best experience with this fantastic species.

VARIED BUNTING was here as well, along with several roosting HOODED ORIOLES. We had brief views of GREAT HORNED OWL and good views of COMMON POORWILL along the road as we left.

Arivaca Rd again:

We saw two BARN OWLS along the road after dark, one about 100 yards into Pima County, the other a couple of miles inside Santa Cruz County. I saw another one two nights ago, a mile from my house in Rio Rico, and the roosting Barn Owl remains at the undisclosed site in Santa Cruz County (which is none of the above). And to think I’d never seen a Barn Owl in Santa Cruz County until three months ago…

 

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