Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Monday, May 20, 2013

Conquering a Nemesis Bird

This past weekend, I traveled south to the Tucson area and teamed up with fellow blogger/birder Chris Rohrer to do some birding in southeast Arizona.  Chris spent a lot of time and research on hot spots to hit with only about a day and a half to work with.  He did his homework very well as I came home with 8 new life birds as we explored the proper places and habitat to find some wonderful birds.  We spent most of the day on Saturday racking up the bird species, but I am once again going to post our Sunday adventure first as it turned out to be quite awesome.  

The Elegant Trogon is a bird that neither of us had the fortune of viewing before.  Both of us, and I think Chris more than I, has spent time trying to locate this bird.  It is a much sought after bird for birders who want to add it to their United States list.  It is a colorful tropical bird who's range reaches the extreme southern part of Arizona where breeding does occur in the U.S.  It is not an easy bird to find as it usually is found in higher elevations during breeding season which requires some hiking into higher elevations.  Some of these birds do winter in Arizona at lower elevations, but most migrate south into Mexico.  

The Carrie Nation Trail in Madera Canyon is well known for its nesting trogons and the nest is usually monitored and most serious birders know where and how to find it.  That was our game plan as we hit the trail early and started uphill to the nesting sight.  We had probably only traveled about ½ mile, far short of the nesting site, when Chris heard one calling somewhere near to us on the opposite side of the canyon.  So we decided to stop a bit off to the side of the trail and listen for it to see if we could pinpoint where it might be.  As we waited, it seemed to very slowly get closer to us as we waited quietly and patiently.  Then I spotted it by its bright red belly flying in and landing on a tree not far from us.  What a moment of inspiration for both of us as we relished the viewing, its calling and allowing us to capture some photos.  There was also a great bit of satisfaction for both us knowing that had actually found one without the assistance of others or staking out its nest cavity. As we were enjoying it another birder by the name of Nancy was coming down the trail after spending a long time near the nesting site without finding one, so she also had the privilege of joining in on the viewing.  Finally both Chris and I were able to add this bird to our life lists and the rest of the morning was like walking on clouds!  So without further ado, hear are my photos of the Elegant Trogon.

 Elegant Trogon

Elegant Trogon

The trogon was our main objective, but in the process of hiking up the trail to the trogon, I also added another new life bird to my list, the Swainson's Thrush. Very similar to the Hermit Thrush of which I have seen many, but enough subtle differences to be able to ID them with good looks in the field and also by its song.  

 Swainson's Thrush

Swainson's Thrush

From there we headed back down the canyon and made a stop at the Santa Rita Lodge, which is a great place to stay if anyone wants to plan a trip to Madera Canyon and spend a night or two.  They have a great set up of feeders out front with wonderful relaxed viewing in the shade.  While there I managed to capture a few photos of some beautiful birds.  There were lots of Black-headed Grosbeaks and they were easy to view and there was a lone Blue Grosbeak that wanted to feed in a feeder in the deep shade behind one of the cabins.  For one brief moment it flew up to a fence in the sun and I managed to get 1 photo.  Also captured photos of a Mexican Jay and a Pine Siskin.

 Black-headed Grosbeak

 Blue Grosbeak

 Mexican Jay

Pine Siskin

From there we headed even lower in elevation to the Proctor Trail.  On this trail we found many birds and the photos I have below are just a small sampling.  They include a Canyon Towhee, a Bell's Vireo, and a Varied Bunting that did not want to show off its beautiful colors in the sunlight.  

 Bell's Vireo

 Canyon Towhee

Varied Bunting

So much for the bird photos, but other photos of interest include a Clark's Spiny Lizard showing off its blue belly and throat, an Ornate Tree Lizard, a Gray Squirrel, and a Carpenter Bee on a white flower.

Clark's Spiny Lizard

Ornate Tree Lizard

 Gray Squirrel

Carpenter Bee

What a grand and wonderful ½ day of birding with Chris!  




10 comments:

  1. NICE!

    Congratulations Gordon, "walking on clouds" is exactly the feeling after seeing that bird, even when it's not a lifer!
    The Varied Bunting and Botteri's Sparrow were super finds too.
    Great post Gordon.

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    1. Its a pretty special bird and hope to see it more often in the future. The Botteri's Sparrow and Varied Bunting were not new to me, but they were for Chris and they are still a great find anytime when out birding. Thanks for the comments.

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  2. It was an amazing day Gordon. I think we need to do these treks more often. Arizona birders watch out!:)

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    1. Chris, I totally agree. I think we have already discussed some of the future sites and I really appreciate all the work you put into our weekend! Thanks!

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  3. Have you been or do you plan to go to Ramsey Canyon? You would love it. Your photos are great. I found the Trogan in two spots, Garden Canyon in the Huachucas and in the canyon at Beatty's Orchard.
    Nita

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    1. Nita, funny you should mention those 2 spots. I went to try and find the trogon in Huachuca Canyon as they have been reported there this spring. Got off on the wrong road at first and ended up in Garden Canyon where I found my first Buff-breasted Flycatcher, so it was worth getting lost. Still missed the trogon in Huachuca Canyon. I have not been to Ramsey Canyon yet, but it is on my list of places to visit sometime in the future. Thanks for your comments!

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  4. Wonderful photos! So glad you were able to do this together! How exciting to find the trogon and the rest of the birds species!

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    1. Just wish you could have been with us Kathie! That would have been awesome!

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  5. Congratulations!! What a great feeling it is to finally see a bird that has eluded you for so long. Brings back great memories of my short visit to Madera Canyon although I never found the trogon myself. Superb images Gordon!

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    1. Thank you Duncan! It is not the easiest bird to find, but it is a great feeling to finally see it. Not another bird int he United States quite like it. Obviously there are in Mexico and Central and South America, but Arizona is unique in the fact that it has some habitats that are appealing to some of these more exotic birds.

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