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An excellent day and night in the Atascosa Mountains and Pajarito Wilderness, with 91 species and lots of highlights.
Our day started out perfectly as a stunning male MONTEZUMA QUAIL slowly ambled across the road in front of us in full early morning sunlight, giving us all excellent close views.
Peña Blanca Canyon:
We couldn’t rustle up a Rufous-capped Warbler today despite a concerted effort. We didn’t have that problem with ELEGANT TROGONS, with views of several birds.
The hummingbird show in the canyon at the moment is exceptional. The highlight was a nice little male CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD feeding on the abundant Desert (Mexican) Honeysuckle, along with a female COSTA’S, a couple of RUFOUS, quite a few BROAD-BILLED and literally dozens of BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRDS. The latter are supposed to be migrating through to higher elevation but I’m surprised so many are still around this late in the spring, and even more surprised to see so many males performing full display dives. They’re not going to stay to breed… are they? That would be weird!
The flycatcher show was almost as good, although less visually stunning, with WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE, HAMMOND’S, DUSKY, PACIFIC-SLOPE, DUSKY-CAPPED, ASH-THROATED and BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS, plus CASSIN’S KINGBIRDS at the entrance and up on the slopes.
Also in the canyon, more MONTEZUMA QUAIL, BLACK VULTURE, nesting ZONE-TAILED HAWKS, a brief view of a WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL at the entrance to a nest hole, calling ELF OWL, WHITE-THROATED SWIFT, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, HUTTON’S and WARBLING VIREOS, a singing CURVE-BILLED THRASHER (interestingly, as this habitat is more suited to the resident but extremely elusive Crissal Thrasher), ORANGE-CROWNED, NASHVILLE, BLACK-THROATED GRAY, TOWNSEND’S, HERMIT, and WILSON’S WARBLERS, PAINTED REDSTART, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, SUMMER TANAGER, NORTHERN CARDINAL, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, and the delightful HOODED, BULLOCK’S and SCOTT’S ORIOLE trifecta.
I also had a brief flight view of what may have been a Broad-winged Hawk, but we didn’t see it again to confirm.
Further along the road we encountered LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, and a few nice ‘AZURE’ EASTERN BLUEBIRDS.
Ruby Lakes (California Gulch Dam, NOT at Ruby):
A quick walk to the pond produced ‘MEXICAN’ MALLARD, GRAY HAWK, BELL’S VIREO, VIOLET-GREEN and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS, CHIPPING, LARK, and LINCOLN’S SPARROWS, SUMMER and WESTERN TANAGERS, LAZULI BUNTING, and PINE SISKIN.
Confluence of California Gulch & Warsaw Canyon:
I was delighted to find my first FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW of the year late in the afternoon. Also there before sundown we found a pair of BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHERS (bit no Black-capped today), HERMIT THRUSH, SUMMER TANAGER, NORTHERN CARDINAL, LAZULI BUNTING, and HOODED ORIOLE.
As nighttime took hold we teamed up with Dave Stejskal and his tour group from Field Guides and all had good views of a male BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJAR, followed by equally satisfying looks at an ELF OWL. We also heard COMMON POORWILL calling in the distance and encountered BLACK-TAILED JACKRABBIT and a GRAY FOX on the way home to round off a great adventure!