Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Huachuca Mountains -- 15 April 2013
After my first 2 days of birding down south, on Monday the 15th, I headed out of Tucson and drove to Patagonia to the Paton House, which is a well known birding spot as it draws a huge variety of birds and at the same time, birders from around the world can be seen here any day of the week. Then on the positive side, the caretaker is a good friend and birder by the name of Larry Morgan and his hospitality is second to none. Once he got his feeders filled, we then set out for Ft Huachuca. (More about the birds at the Paton House on the next blog post.) Once we got to the military post and checked in, we were given some vague instructions on where to go birding. Unbeknownst to us, we ended up in the wrong canyon. We ended up in Garden Canyon instead of Huachuca Canyon, but before we realized our error, we had traveled as far as the Upper Picnic Area and we decided to check out the birds anyway. It was very windy and anything high in the trees was difficult to see and photograph, but birds near the ground were much easier to observe. It must have been fate that brought us on a wrong road as we discovered a new life bird for both of us, a Buff-breasted Flycatcher, the smallest flycatcher in the Empidonax family, but actually one of the easiest to identify because of its warm orangish color to breast and belly. This is a bird that can be found in the southeastern areas of Arizona and a few casual sightings have occurred in New Mexico and Texas. There were actually 2 of them in this location and one of them was not particularly fearful of us as we watched it on a low perch and it eventually flew out to capture a small butterfly and then devour it. Great for the photographer, sad for the butterfly!
What an amazing find and so glad we got lost and went to a wrong canyon! From there, we backtracked to find Huachuca Canyon, and on the way we had a lone Pronghorn Antelope run across the road and it had traveled quite a distance before I could get the car stopped to snap a photo.
Once we found Huachuca Canyon we got to relish and enjoy the drive to the 1.7 mile parking lot; mush have taken 30 minutes to travel that distance. It is passable by a passenger car, but very slow going. Wind advisories had been issued for that day and they were right. While we did not have a lot of birds on this day, one of the American Robins stopped to pose for a photo and I also captured a photo of a male Springwater Dancer Damselfly. Then it was time for lunch in Sierra Vista and then on the Ash Canyon B & B.
Springwater Dancer Damselfly
After lunch, we headed to Ash Canyon Bed & Breakfast where Mary Jo has many feeders set up and they attract all kinds of birds. For a meager $5.00 donation, one can sit down and enjoy the show. Below are just a few photos of just a few of the many birds we watched and observed.
Lazuli Bunting--still molting into its summer finest.
Scott's Oriole--adult breeding plumage male
Scott's Oriole--first year male
What a great variety of birds and colors for the day. We then returned to the Paton House and arrived before the sun set and had a great number of birds come to the feeders before we retired for the night.