A really great day of birding in mostly Santa Cruz County, with an impressive 85 species, including many fabulous SE Arizona specialty birds.
Rio Rico Ponds:
A quick stop produced a pair of BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS, TROPICAL KINGBIRD, YELLOW WARBLER, and YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT.
Peña Blanca Canyon:
We got off to the perfect start when a MONTEZUMA QUAIL appeared along the entrance road.
We found an active ELEGANT TROGON nest hole in a large Arizona Sycamore tree, and enjoyed close views of the male.
About a half mile down canyon, we relocated the continuing pair of RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS, which gave nice views.
In the same area we also found a BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER, which was quickly joined by (and driven off by?) a couple of BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHERS.
An eventful morning in the canyon was further enhanced by GRAY and ZONE-TAILED HAWKS, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, CORDILLERAN, DUSKY-CAPPED, ASH-THROATED and BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS, HUTTON’S and WARBLING VIREOS, BUSHTIT, PAINTED REDSTART, and RUFOUS-CROWNED and RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROWS, as well as a good selection of butterflies.
Very quiet in the midday heat, and the ponds (collectively known as Stacey Lake) have largely dried up, especially the second (westernmost) one. Hopefully they’ll be filled with the monsoon rains, but it doesn’t look like a place to look for buntings right now.
Patagonia Roadside Rest:
The THICK-BILLED KINGBIRDS were still feeding young on the nest, but the day of fledging must be near.
Also there, BELL’S VIREO, PHAINOPEPLA, and YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT.
Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center, Patagonia:
The usual suspects were duly added to the list in a brief visit, including INCA DOVE, and BLACK-CHINNED, BROAD-BILLED and several VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRDS.
An obliging SCALED QUAIL was found along Curly Horse Rd.
BURROWING OWLS continue at the BLACK-TAILED PRAIRIE-DOG introduction site.
We encountered a GREATER ROADRUNNER that had caught a lizard. We stalled for long enough to grab a photo, as it was obviously waiting for us to leave so it could cross the road and feed some hungry young nearby.
Around the grasslands we also found WHITE-TAILED KITE, SWAINSON’S and ZONE-TAILED HAWKS, load of WESTERN KINGBIRDS, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, HORNED LARK, and plentiful LARK, BOTTERI’S, CASSIN’S and GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS.
It’s always nice to get good views of a PRONGHORN. Can you spot the ‘LILIAN’S’ EASTERN MEADOWLARK?
The grasslands really come alive at this time of year, vibrant with the color and song of the monsoon season. A delightful place to be on a July afternoon.
Rio Rico again:
A few BLACK VULTURES were roosting in the same trees by the Santa Cruz River.