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A successful day and night of target birding in the Atascosa Highlands and Pajarito Wilderness.
We stopped in the usual spot to pick up BOTTERI’S SPARROW.
Peña Blanca Canyon:
Our first target was ELEGANT TROGON, and we were able to watch a pair around an active nest hole.
Also in the canyon, GRAY and ZONE-TAILED HAWKS, GREATER ROADRUNNER, COSTA’S HUMMINGBIRD, PEREGRINE FALCON, PACIFIC-SLOPE, DUSKY-CAPPED, ASH-THROATED, and BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS, HUTTON’S VIREO, PAINTED REDSTART, HEPATIC TANAGER, BLACK-HEADED and BLUE GROSBEAKS, VARIED BUNTING, and HOODED ORIOLE.
Peña Blanca Lake:
Having failed to find Rufous-capped Warblers at the canyon, we tried at the lake but struck out here as well. We were compensated by finding COMMON BLACK HAWK near the dam, plus ZONE-TAILED HAWK, GREATER ROADRUNNER, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, PACIFIC-SLOPE and DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHERS, SUMMER TANAGER, BLACK-HEADED and BLUE GROSBEAKS, and VARIED BUNTING.
Ruby Lakes (aka California Gulch Dam):
A GOLDEN EAGLE passed overhead. Also here, ‘MEXICAN’ MALLARD, GREAT BLUE HERON, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, and a bunch of BLUE GROSBEAKS. It was fun to watch two bulls butting heads. The victor was very proud of himself.
Confluence of California Gulch & Warsaw Canyon:
As we arrived, a pair of MONTEZUMA QUAIL crept away through the undergrowth.
A pair of BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS was eventually found in the usual spot, keeping very quiet around what I assume is a nest site.
Also in the area, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, BLACK-HEADED and BLUE GROSBEAKS, VARIED BUNTING, and HOODED ORIOLE.
I thought we were going to miss FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW despite concerted efforts during the late afternoon heat, but one duly popped up onto an ocotillo well after sun down for a brief, dark, but diagnostic view. Thankfully, this is often one of the last birds to go to bed, so I see them at dusk on a regularly basis.
A few minutes later, after a few bursts of song from a male BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJAR, one came out onto a rock and sallied upwards to catch insects multiple times, landing back on the same rock for some great views.
We also heard ELF OWL and COMMON POORWILL calling, but didn’t see them.
Ruby Rd again:
We stopped at my regular spot to get good views of a WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL.
Peña Blanca Lake again:
Having failed to see an ELF OWL at California Gulch, we made up for it at the lake with excellent views of a cooperative individual in the Lower Thumbrock picnic area.