Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Monday, July 8, 2013

Rancho El Aribabi, Sonora, Mexico - Part 1

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!)

Yellow-breasted Chat

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.

Vermilion Flycatcher

 Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

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.

 Vermilion Flycatcher

 Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher

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.

Violet-crowned Hummingbird

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".

 Red-spotted Toad

Red-spotted Toad

Sonoran Desert Toad

Stayed tuned for part 2 coming up later in the week.













5 comments:

  1. Gordon, I'm curious as to whether you traveled to this location my car, and if so did you have any concerns en route as regards your personal safety traveling in this part of Mexico.
    Thanks,
    Jerry

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    Replies
    1. Jerry,
      Thank you for your comments. You mention a concern that many people mention about traveling in Mexico. Here are my personal thoughts. I think the fear most people have is due to media hype and what people perceive as possibly dangerous. I have used my personal car to travel to Puerto Penasco in Mexico several times and will do it again in a heartbeat. I have never had a problem and have never felt threatened. This trip was not any different. We had 3 vehicles and we did travel together, but at no time did we have any issues or threats. Most of it is using common sense, travel during daylight hours to avoid putting yourself at risk. The people I have met on every trip has been very friendly and they love the American tourists; and of course the financial benefits we bring. My thinking is that one can travel in the US and have just as much danger. Traffic accidents in the US would be more a more statistical risk than the danger in Mexico. When there are bombings in Boston at the Marathon and mass shootings in New Orleans at a Mother's Day Parade, you have just as much danger in the US. Decided not to live in fear. This area I went to, is very isolated and we did not see anyone while we were there. I will go back in the future, may even plan a trip with a few others and take group down there. Have already had a few people mention that they would love to go. Americans are crossing the border by the thousands every day for vacationing, so the media hype is overblown in my opinion. Very rewarding for me and I think I will be doing more trips to more destinations in Mexico next year. Thank you for asking!

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  2. Gordon,
    Thank you for your well-considered and detailed response. I was planning a trip to the Copper Canyon region to assist with some new route (climbing) development, and I was a bit concerned about the "situation" in that area. Looks like the trip has been postponed until next year. I've also wanted to explore the upper reaches of the San Pedro in Mexico, and your comments have helped encourage me in that regard. Thanks, again...!

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  3. Oops... almost forgot. I love the Clark's Spiny. Of the trio (Desert, Yarrow's, and Clark's) the Clark's is one I've yet to see. I see the defining characteristic (2 bands on the forearm/leg) clearly in this shot. I didn't know they were so colorful though...!

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    Replies
    1. They don't always show that bright blue, but they are handsome never-the-less. And the bars on the forelegs is definitely the key. They love to climb trees.
      Thanks again and let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.

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