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A great day in Santa Cruz County with an impressive 100 species and lots of cool sightings.
A quick stop near the Calabasas Campground produced BOTTERI’S and a surprise GRASSHOPPER SPARROW. The latter was only a surprise in as much as I hadn’t seen one here before, but the habitat is perfectly suitable.
We found a perched GRAY HAWK, WESTERN TANAGER and a few BUSHTITS nearby.
White Rock Campground:
While visiting the bathrooms I heard a MONTEZUMA QUAIL calling from the nearby slope, and decided to investigate further. Before long we’d encouraged several birds to call back, both males and females, and with a little effort I got one male to show itself at very close range for incredible views of this difficult species.
Also there, GRAY HAWK, and BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER.
Peña Blanca Canyon:
We may have heard a Rufous-capped Warbler briefly, but I was unable to confirm.
The ELEGANT TROGON show continues, although it’s getting harder to get good views as they go into breeding mode. We did see a female, though, which is always nice.
Also in the canyon, more calling MONTEZUMA QUAIL, BLACK VULTURE, SHARP-SHINNED, GRAY and ZONE-TAILED HAWKS, COSTA’S and still lots of BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRDS, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, DUSKY-CAPPED, ASH-TROATED and BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS, BELL’S and HUTTON’S VIREOS, ORANGE-CROWNED, LUCY’S, BLACK-THROATED GRAY, TOWNSEND’S, HERMIT and WILSON’S WARBLERS, PAINTED REDSTART, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, HEPATIC and SUMMER TANAGERS, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, and HOODED, BULLOCK’S and SCOTT’S ORIOLES.
White Rock Campground:
We dropped in to use the bathrooms again and by chance met a couple of visiting herpetologists who had just released a SONORAN WHIPSNAKE they’d caught and studied. I try not to handle the wildlife unless it’s an emergency, but it was fun to see them catch the snake again so we could see it at close quarters. I also learned how ‘herpers’ get those fantastic posed photos. I’d assumed there was some trickery involving putting them in a cooler or some other method to keep them coiled and becalmed, but it turns out it’s as ‘simple’ as bunching the snake up, putting it on a rock, and holding it there until it’s calm enough to stay put. I was able to get some nice shots thanks to the herpers using this method, while sticking to my own policy of not touching.
A quick stop at this impressive local wetland produced ‘MEXICAN’ MALLARD, NORTHERN SHOVELER, PIED-BILLED GREBE, NEOTROPIC CORMORANT, more GRAY HAWKS, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, WESTERN KINGBIRD, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, YELLOW WARBLER, and LARK and SONG SPARROWS. We were watched by a COYOTE who appeared to be laughing at us while eyeing up a nice duck for lunch.
Another quick pond stop provided us with RING-NECKED DUCK, GRAY HAWK, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, and LARK SPARROW.
S River Rd, Rio Rico:
Guess what – great views of another GRAY HAWK!
Patagonia Roadside Rest:
We located the pair of THICK-BILLED KINGBIRDS, as well as the seemingly inevitable GRAY HAWK, and a WESTERN TANAGER.
Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center:
We failed to see a Violet-crowned Hummingbird, but did see BLACK-CHINNED, ANNA’S, a female BROAD-TAILED and lots of BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRDS.
Also there, BLACK VULTURE, SHARP-SHINNED and yet more GRAY HAWKS, INCA DOVE, YELLOW WARBLER, ‘AUDUBON’S’ YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, LARK and SONG SPARROWS, several WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS of the ‘MOUNTAIN’ subspecies, SUMMER TANAGER, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, and PINE SISKIN.
The new pond at the Paton Center is already a big hit and really adds something extra to the whole experience. My congratulations and thanks go to Tucson Audubon and all the staff and volunteers who are continually improving this fabulous place. Go visit!
Santa Cruz County:
One BARN OWL continues at the regular roost site.