A fantastic day of birding in Santa Cruz County at two great sites, with 80 bird species, a couple more super mammal sightings, and really good company.
Peña Blanca Canyon:
It was an excellent day to see ELEGANT TROGONS. The males were very active and vocal, moving up and down canyon and fighting among themselves. We saw at least four, as well as two females, which are more shy and were keeping a lower profile.
A surprise COMMON BLACK HAWK flew low along the canyon, heading north.
The RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS remain elusive, and are presumably nesting. We heard a couple calling and singing, and got brief views of one.
The canyon was lively throughout, and we also found MONTEZUMA QUAIL, BLACK VULTURE, GRAY HAWK, BLACK-CHINNED, COSTA’S, BROAD-TAILED and BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRDS, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, HAMMOND’S, PACIFIC-SLOPE, VERMILION, DUSKY-CAPPED and ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHERS, HUTTON’S VIREO, BUSHTIT, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, DARK-EYED JUNCO, HEPATIC TANAGER, and HOODED and SCOTT’S ORIOLES. Warbler activity was good, with LUCY’S, NASHVILLE, YELLOW-RUMPED, BLACK-THROATED GRAY, TOWNSEND’S, HERMIT, and WILSON’S WARBLERS, plus PAINTED REDSTART.
Delighted with our haul, we left the canyon and began along Ruby Rd, but our progress was immediately halted before we even reached the lake, when a WHITE-NOSED COATI ambled across the road right in front of us, my second this month! We followed him as he moved along the grassy slope and disappeared over the ridge.
Along the entrance road we found BELL’S VIREO, PYRRHULOXIA, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW and CANYON TOWHEE.
At the golf club we only checked the sewage pond and surrounding area, but it was well worth it, with REDHEAD, RING-NECKED DUCK, LESSER SCAUP, PIED-BILLED GREBE, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, a pair of BELTED KINGFISHERS, and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED and BARN SWALLOWS.
Better still, a BOBCAT appeared on one of the fairways and we were able to watch it for several minutes. I’ve seen several Bobcats recently which is very pleasing.
An interesting find was a very bright AMERICAN ROBIN feeding on the practice green. In this habitat it was obviously a migrant, and to me it resembled an eastern bird, being much brighter and more solidly-colored than the usual pale, somewhat insipid robins we get nesting at high elevation in SE Arizona.
A GRAY HAWK was perched up alongside S. River Rd. We ended the day by watching a PEREGRINE FALCON stooping at Mourning Doves at high speed by the Santa Cruz River along Ruby Rd. We didn’t see where the dive ended until it reappeared much more slowly a couple of minutes later, carrying something tasty for dinner. An action packed way to end an exciting day.