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Another windy but productive and fun day of birding in Santa Cruz County, from the Peña Blanca area to Patagonia.
Ruby Rd, Calabasas Campground Overlook:
At least five BOTTERI’S SPARROWS were singing, and we also found GREATER ROADRUNNER, ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER, and BLACK-THROATED and RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROWS.
A 15-minute stop produced 23 species, including GRAY HAWK, COSTA’S and BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRDS, DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, and BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK.
White Rock Campground:
A quick bathroom break was taken, with GRAY HAWK and LAZULI BUNTING calling in the background.
Peña Blanca Canyon:
We spent the rest of the morning in this wonderful canyon. We only found 33 species, but it was quality over quantity, as is often the case here. Chief among the highlights was a minimum of five ELEGANT TROGONS, none of which showed particularly well. I checked a nest hole that had housed a pair of trogons the past two years, and was surprised and delighted to see a WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL poking out! Another, presumably its mate, was calling nearby.
Also in the canyon, DUSKY-CAPPED, and my first BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS of the year, ROCK, CANYON, HOUSE and BEWICK’S WRENS, PAINTED REDSTART, BLACK-THROATED, LARK and RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROWS, LAZULI BUNTING, and HOODED and SCOTT’S ORIOLES.
We enjoyed the other wildlife, especially the impressive butterfly show. I saw my first ever COMMON MESTRA, a rare butterfly in the US, only found with any regularity along the border in SE Arizona.
We also spotted this fantastic little BLACK-NECKED GARTERSNAKE, which was caught and posed for us by a visiting herpetologist.
Peña Blanca Lake:
We ate our lunches while taking in views of NEOTROPIC CORMORANT, GREEN HERON, COOPER’S and GRAY HAWKS, BLACK-CHINNED and BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRDS, DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER, and LAZULI BUNTING.
Patagonia Roadside Rest:
We made a quick stop in the heat of the afternoon in the hope of finding a Thick-billed Kingbird, but we couldn’t locate one. We did find BLACK VULTURE, WHITE-THROATED SWIFT, DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER, and LUCY’S and YELLOW WARBLERS.
Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds, Patagonia:
Even though it was mid-afternoon and there was an event being set up with marquees and lots of people, we found 33 species and had fantastic views of some beautiful, colorful birds around the feeders and continually improving native habitat at this exceptional, special place. The highlight for me was a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW, fairly rare in SE Arizona. Coincidentally, I saw one here on the same date last year.
Other birds included GRAY HAWK, INCA DOVE, BLACK-CHINNED, ANNA’S, BROAD-BILLED and VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRDS, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER, my first YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT of the year, WHITE-CROWNED and SONG SPARROWS, ABERT’S TOWHEE, SUMMER TANAGER, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, and LAZULI BUNTING.