- Southeast Arizona Birding Guide, Richard Fray - https://arizonabirder.com -

SW Wings Spring Fling: San Pedro House & Escapule Wash

Another field trip for the SW Wings Spring Fling, this time to San Pedro House and Escapule Wash. We saw and heard 74 species, which was pretty good given the gale force winds that had whipped up by late afternoon.

We spent the morning walking from San Pedro House, through the mesquite desert grasslands for a while, then ducked down into the cottonwoods by the river once the wind really picked up. The highlight was probably an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER along the river. It was a good morning for flycatchers in general, with WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE, DUSKY, PACIFIC-SLOPE, VERMILION, ASH-THROATED and BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS, BLACK and SAY’S PHOEBES, and CASSIN’S and WESTERN KINGBIRDS.

Olive-sided Flycatcher [1]

Another highlight was found in the parking lot, my first BLUE GROSBEAK of the year, but it was unfortunately brief.

Kingfisher Pond gave us views of ‘MEXICAN’ MALLARD, PIED-BILLED GREBE, and GREAT BLUE HERON, while TREE, VIOLET-GREEN, NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED and BARN SWALLOWS flitted over the water.

We also had NORTHERN HARRIER, calling GRAY HAWK, brief but close views of both SWAINSON’S and ZONE-TAILED HAWKS in flight, INCA DOVE, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, a showy BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, an equally showy male PYRRHULOXIA, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, LUCY’S, YELLOW, ‘AUDUBON’S’ YELLOW-RUMPED, and WILSON’S WARBLERS, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, GREEN-TAILED, CANYON and ABERT’S TOWHEES, LARK, BLACK-THROATED, SONG and ‘MOUNTAIN’ WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS, BULLOCK’S ORIOLE, SUMMER and WESTERN TANAGERS, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, and LAZULI BUNTING.

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher [2]

Common Ground-Dove [3]

Pyrrhuloxia [4]

Pyrrhuloxia [5]

Pyrrhuloxia [6]

Yellow-breasted Chat [7]

Desert Grassland Whiptail [8]

Birders at San Pedro House [9]

We ate lunch at the picnic tables back at the house, hunkered down as the wind roared through. I decided it was time to retire my scope for the day after it was blown over, hitting the ground with a great thud, for the third time. Amazingly it survived. It appears to be indestructible, even after 24 years of terrible abuse.

We were under the watchful gaze of the WESTERN SCREECH-OWL that is resident in one of the huge cottonwoods next to the house. Well, I say watchful…

Western Screech-Owl [10]

Western Screech-Owl [11]

We moved on to Escapule Wash but the wind here was intolerable, and after getting good views of BELL’S VIREO and VERDIN by the road we decided to try our luck at Charleston Bridge, another access point to the San Pedro River. It wasn’t much more sheltered here, but it was a little, and we were able to add GRAY HAWK, CANYON WREN, and TOWNSEND’S WARBLER to the list before calling it a day.

Charleston Bridge [12]