On January 11, 2014, I decided to venture to the southern part of Arizona to try for a second time to locate another new life bird that resides in some very select canyons in that area; the Rufous-capped Warbler. I contacted my Tucson birding friend, Chris Rohrer to see if he would be interested in going along. And of course, he said yes and we made our plans. There was another rare bird being seen in Tucson at the time. A Harris's Sparrow had been hanging out with several House Sparrows in a very well used city park. This is normally a bird of the central part of the United States, but one had managed to head west for the winter. This park was not far from where Chris lived, so we headed directly there and within 10 minutes we caught our first glimpse of it and within another 10 minutes, it was allowing us some photos. Very early in the morning and 1 new life bird found and enjoyed!
The main focus life bird, the Rufous-capped Warbler, which is found frequently in Florida Canyon, and we felt timing was critical to catch this bird. I had made an attempt last August to find this bird and came away with no sighting, but found out there were chiggers in that grass where they reside. This time was much colder the so chiggers were absent. We arrived early and hiked to location they were being reported. We knew we were probably early, so decided to wait a bit and sure enough, the first one was seen about 15 minutes later and we eventually had 2 of them flitting around for us. This is one sexy bird in my opinion and one of my birding highlights. Will have to go back for hopefully some better photos someday, but happy I got to see this bird and capture a few images.
Oddly we had another warbler in the same vicinity of the Rufous-capped Warblers (there were 2 of them) and I was really so wrapped up in trying to photograph the Rufous-capped Warblers, that it came a quite a surprise when I got home and started processing photos and discovered this photo of a Wilson's Warbler right in the midst of the others. While this is not a rare warbler to Arizona during spring or fall migration, it is uncommon to find one this far north in January as they spend winters much further south in Mexico.
A Loggerhead Shrike presented itself to us well on our drive out of Florida Canyon. Fairly common bird, but when they pose for the camera, one cannot resist the photo opportunity.
From Florida Canyon we then ventured further south and then east to make a visit to Patagonia Lake State Park which just happens to be a very reliable spot the past few years to find in the winter one of the most sought after birds in the United States, the Elegant Trogon. And we were not disappointed in our visit. This has to be one of the most unusual and fascinating, but also most beautiful birds to find in the US. Birding in Arizona is really awesome!
While there a pair of Western Bluebirds came down for a drink and displayed some more wonderful colors of the rainbow.
One last stop on our way home was at Paton's in Patagonia. Host Larry Morgan is the host extraordinaire and it is always a pleasure to stop and say hi and see what is new showing up in his yard. The yard is always full of wonderful and interesting birds and this visit was no exception.
Another great day of birding with great birds and great friends!