A really different and interesting day of target birding, because we weren’t looking for the usual targets…
Today was all about seeing certain birds in certain plumages, which made for a pleasant change and presented a bit of a challenge. Our number one goal was getting good views of a female or immature VARIED BUNTING. We had no trouble finding a male, but it took longer to find a confiding ‘brown’ one. We managed excellent views in the end, and saw them again elsewhere, so it was a successful mission.
The canyon was quite birdy early morning, with BELL’S and WARBLING VIREOS, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, and NASHVILLE and BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLERS all seen from the road.
Mount Hopkins Rd:
My next challenge was to find a RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW in juvenile plumage. They don’t hold that plumage for long, but there were bound to be some around, and a couple of stops at the side of the road a mile or two west of Montosa Canyon did the trick. Straight away we had good but fairly brief views of a brownish, dark-billed juvenile, after which it was easy enough to see the adults, but the juveniles kept low.
Also in the mesquite habitat along the road, we found several GREATER ROADRUNNERS, and a few singing CASSIN’S and BLACK-THROATED SPARROWS, which are expected at this time of year, but also a few surprises: a COMMON GROUND-DOVE, a migrant YELLOW WARBLER, and two juvenile SCOTT’S ORIOLES.
A two-minute stop mid day gave us NEOTROPIC CORMORANT and ‘MEXICAN’ CLIFF SWALLOW, and not a lot else.
Potrero Creek, Rio Rico:
A TROPICAL KINGBIRD was calling again near the truck stop.
Both BOTTERI’S SPARROW and BLUE GROSBEAK were added to the list.
Peña Blanca Canyon:
Our final target was to try to locate a female or immature ELEGANT TROGON. We eventually got good views of an adult male – normally the plumage people want to see – but the others eluded us.
Somewhat typically, on a day we weren’t even trying for it, we stumbled into fabulous close views of a RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER.
Also in the canyon in the heat of the afternoon, we were able to locate GRAY HAWK, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, DUSKY, PACIFIC-SLOPE, and DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHERS, HUTTON’S VIREO, NASHVILLE, MacGILLIVRAY’S and WILSON’S WARBLERS, PAINTED REDSTART, CHIPPING SPARROW, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, and more VARIED BUNTINGS, for a very successful day with a difference.