This past weekend, I had the honor and privilege to take part in a 3 day trip to Rancho El Aribabi in the northern part of Sonora, Mexico. We were a group of 8, consisting of a herpetologist, a botanist, a photographer, a couple of trackers and 3 birders. Quite a nice variety of backgrounds with a lot of knowledge on the flora and fauna of the region. Less than 2 hours from the United States/Mexico border and situated in a remote valley with a small stream running through the valley. It is located off Mexico Highway 2 between the towns of Imuris and Cananea and is a private ranch that is open to naturalists with advanced registrations. We arrived on Friday afternoon and once all the unpacking was complete, just about everyone took off on their adventures. A good friend, birder, and blogger, of mine that had just recently returned from Guatemala joined me on this trip, Chris Rohrer. While birding was our primary goal we were also interested in just about any other living creature we could find.
I have decided that I have way too many photos for just one post on this trip, so I am going to create 3 different posts on the experience. I got 4 new life bird during this time, but they did not occur on the first day, so the future posts will include those. The first thing we noticed was the huge cacophony of birds singing everywhere, and the very vocal and loudest of all was the Yellow-breasted Chat. Every spring I look forward to the return of this bird to Arizona, but at this location they were everywhere, including juveniles. We even spent the better part of an hour trying to get views of a odd calling bird in deep vegetation only to discover it was a fledgling still being fed by adults. As normal for this bird, they do not usually pose for the camera, but even a fair photo really shows off the brilliance of this bird. (This one was trying to hide its face behind a leaf!)
Another very common bird in this location was the Vermilion Flycatcher and the juveniles from this year's hatch were everywhere. We had one that was constantly hanging around the ranch house with what appears to be leucistic with the amount of white on the top of its head. He was a bird that was very consistent about claiming its territory right off the patio area. I nicknamed him Cotton Top during our stay.
Of course we also had many normal males to be seen throughout the vicinity. When I saw my first Vermilion Flycatcher after moving to Arizona, it really strengthened my interest in birds.
One of the first things we did on arrival on Friday was to fill the hummingbird feeders. They had been empty for a short time and did not take too long before the hummers found them. At first it was just a few, but by the time we left, the feeders had become a very valuable bit of territory for the various hummers. One of the first to visit was a Violet-crowned Hummingbird. This is one of my first photos of one, but I got more photos the next 2 days when more of them arrived.
As I mentioned early in the post, we also sought out other creatures and for those that have read some of my previous posts, you know I love to post photos of these other creatures as well. (May not be an expert at them, but still learning.) So we will being with a Clark's Spiny Lizard that was caught climbing a tree and showing off its bright blue colors.
Clark's Spiny Lizard
The small tributary streams were abundant with Lowland Leopard Frogs and they were hard to capture on a photo as they are almost invisible as long as they don't move, but once they move it is usually jumping into the water and out of sight.
Lowland Leopard Frog
Later that afternoon and evening, thanks to Jim Rorabaugh, we got to meet a couple of toads; a Red-spotted Toad and a Sonoran Desert Toad. The Red-spotted quite easily fit into a person hand, but the Sonoran Desert Toad was HUGE, probably about 7".
Sonoran Desert Toad
Stayed tuned for part 2 coming up later in the week.