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

Sycamore Canyon, Pena Blanca Lake, California Gulch

An extremely long but ultimately very rewarding day of target birding, back in the Atascosas again.

Atascosa Peak, from Ruby Rd [1]

Ruby Rd:

A couple of GRAY HAWKS and multiple RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROWS were noted along the road at dawn.

Sycamore Canyon:

We arrived early and hoped for another MONTEZUMA QUAIL show, and while we did hear multiple male and female quail calling from close range, we only managed one brief view.

A very late OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was a surprise.

Also in the first mile of the canyon, COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRD, two nest sites of ELEGANT TROGON in the first half mile, with multiple views of males and females, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, the continuing pair of THICK-BILLED KINGBIRDS, BUSHTIT, ‘AZURE’ EASTERN BLUEBIRD, PAINTED REDSTART, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, HEPATIC TANAGER, BLUE GROSBEAK, VARIED BUNTING, and HOODED ORIOLE.

Painted Redstart [2]

Chiricahua Leopard Frog [3]

Chiricahua Leopard Frog [4]

Giant Swallowtail [5]

Variegated Fritillary [6]

Arizona Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus [7]

Arizona-Rainbow-Hedgehog-Sycamore-Canyon-15-0617-02 [8]

Peña Blanca Lake:

The nesting ZONE-TAILED HAWKS have at least one chick on the nest.

Zone-tailed Hawk [9]

Also at the lake, a pair of BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS, both ‘MEXICAN’ and several ‘NORTHERN’ MALLARDS, single RUDDY DUCK and PIED-BILLED GREBE (noticeably down from previous years, since the deliberate, needless and rather stupid introduction of a large, predatory, non-native fish species), GREEN HERON, BLACK VULTURE, GRAY and ZONE-TAILED HAWK, all three myiarchus flycatchers (DUSKY-CAPPED, ASH-THROATED and BROWN-CRESTED), BUSHTIT, BLUE GROSBEAK, and VARIED BUNTING.

Brown-crested Flycatcher [10]

White-tailed Deer [11]

Blue Dasher [12]

Peña Blanca Lake [13]

Peña Blanca Lake [14]

Ruby Lakes (pond near California Gulch Dam, NOT at Ruby):

The THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD I saw here a couple of days ago now has a mate. Also, GRAY HAWK, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, ‘MEXICAN’ CLIFF SWALLOW, BLUE GROSBEAK, VARIED BUNTING, BRONZED COWBIRD, and HOODED ORIOLE.

California Gulch:

Despite the afternoon heat, several FIVE-STRIPED SPARROWS were seen quite easily.

Five-striped Sparrow [15]

Additionally, we noted ZONE-TAILED HAWK, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, all three myiarchus flycatchers, several BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHERS (but no Black-capped today), BLUE GROSBEAK, and VARIED BUNTING.

Varied Bunting [16]

Confluence of California Gulch and Warsaw Canyon:

As dusk approached, we saw four ‘DESERT’ PURPLE MARTINS, brief views of a CRISSAL THRASHER, RUFOUS-WINGED and a pair of FIVE-STRIPED SPARROWS, VARIED BUNTING, and lots of HOODED ORIOLES.

California Gulch [17]

Confluence of California Gulch and Warsaw Canyon [18]

Confluence of California Gulch and Warsaw Canyon [19]

The first BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJAR began singing at 7:53 p.m., and we had great views of both male and female, including seeing them on the ground as well as perched on bare branches. We headed back to the car, parked in the little unofficial camp site, at 8:11 p.m., and encountered another male BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJAR on the ground, our third bird for the evening.

Buff-collared Nightjar [20]

More birders were further down canyon to the south, where I gather they also saw additional Buff-collared Nightjars.

To end the day on another high, we had fantastic views of a couple of COMMON POORWILLS on the road on the way out of the gulch.

Common Poorwill [21]