Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Day 2 with Muriel & Tommy

After having such a successful first day of birding in SE Arizona, day 2 started early with a drive to Montosa Canyon which is on the west side of the Santa Rita Mountains.  Our goal at this location was to try and locate another rare bird that a few had seen for a couple of days, a specialty of Mexico, the Yellow-green Vireo.  From the sketchy reports, we knew it would not be an easy find and alas, it is one of the birds we missed.  There were probably another dozen birders also there looking for it and one gentleman had seen it briefly, but we were not so lucky.  We did catch a fleeting glimpse of another rare bird, the Black-capped Gnatcatcher which breeds in this canyon and a couple of other places in Arizona and no where else in the US.  The best bird that we found and photographed was one that we had all seen numerous times before, but it is not one that is easily photographed, the Varied Bunting.  It likes to hide in dense thickets most of the time, but we had some males at this location that were perching high and singing loudly. It unique coloration is also a bit difficult to capture the true colors without the right light.

 Varied Bunting

 Varied Bunting

Varied Bunting

From Montosa Canyon, we then headed to Florida Canyon which is a well known location to find the Rufous-capped Warbler.  Once again we missed this bird, but someone else had been there about 2 hours earlier and got good looks at it.  This is a spiffy little warbler with really good looks and one that I will have to return for in the future.  A great consolation prize, was a beautiful Gray Hawk along the road on the way to Florida Canyon.

Gray Hawk

We wanted to finish the day in Madera Canyon with some of its specialties.  Along the road to Madera Canyon, Muriel knew of a nice little side road to check out and so we checked it out and once again we had Botteri's Sparrows, but I also discovered an adult with a juvenile Rufous-winged Sparrow in the low part of the wash.  Was able to get photos of each and it is always nice to compare the differences between adults and juveniles.

 Rufuos-winged Sparrow, adult

Rufous-winged Sparrow, juvenile

At this same place a Spiny Lizard stuck its head out to check me out and with my zoom lens the photo kind of reminds me of something from Jurassic Park!

Spiny Lizard

One of the keys birds we wanted to find in Madera Canyon was the Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher which is probably the most colorful and interesting flycatcher to be found in Arizona.  It was not a new bird to any of us, but I have never gotten a very good photo of one.  Amazingly, we found a whole family of them; 2 adults and 3 fledglings and even witnessed one of the adults feeding one of the fledglings.  For once I got some decent photos of this wonderful bird.  Their call sounds like a squeaky dog toy, so they are very unique.

 Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers

 Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, adult

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, fledgling

The flycatchers were found just a short distance from Santa Rita Lodge, so it was almost certain that we would spend some time viewing their hummingbird feeders as a Lucifer Hummingbird had recently been reported visiting this place.  Sure enough, it did not take long for this stunning male to show up and make an appearance at the feeders.  We also observed several Rufous Hummingbirds at the feeders.

 Lucifer Hummingbird

Lucifer Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

This last photo of the Rufous Hummingbird also shows that the rain had started to fall, notice the couple of white lines in the background.  With that we bid adieu to Madera Canyon and headed for home.  We had all had a great weekend of birding and the trip home was quite enjoyable.  One last photo to share was a cactus within the shady trees at Montosa Canyon that was covered in blossoms ready to open.  The color was a nice stark contrast to the surrounding shady trees and the beads of dew gave it a cool and inviting look. 



  1. Hey Gordon, fan-freakin-tastic photos!!

    I was able to follow up this weekend, hitting some of the places where you and Tommy and Muriel rocked it. Good grief, southeastern AZ is loaded!

    1. Laurence,
      Really glad you were able to make it down there this weekend and collect some of these goodies for yourself. Still bummed you were not able to join us. It would have been a birders extravaganza had you been with us. This area is definitely a hotbed for birds especially after the monsoon rains they get.
      Thanks for the comments!

  2. Wow Gordon, awesome photos! I've found Varied Bunting and Gray Hawk hard to photograph. The Sulphur-bellied and Lucifer are incredible too.

  3. Beautiful hummingbirds and I love the Varied Bunting. Wonderful photos! Happy Birding!