This year I took part in the Tucson CBC (Christmas Bird Count) for the first time. The CBC was being held on Sunday and good friend, Chris Rohrer, invited me to come down on Saturday night so we could get an early start on Sunday. I decided to try taking advantage of the Saturday road trip and do some birding on the way by detouring through the Santa Cruz Flats area. The weather was definitely not in my favor as it had rained earlier in the day and when I reached the Flats, the rain had stopped, but the roads were a bit muddy, so I restricted myself to the paved and good gravel roads. Not too much to report, as I dipped on the Black-throated Blue Warbler that had been reported, but as I started heading to Tucson, some of the birds along the road were very interesting such as several Lark Sparrows, a Prairie Falcon, a pair of Harris's Hawks, and a juvenile Cooper's Hawk.
Cooper's Hawk - Juvenile
Once I left the Flats, I texted Chris to let him know I was on my way as we had made plans to meet at Sweetwater Wetlands. Amazingly, as I turned the corner onto Sweetwater Road, Chris was coming in from the south. Talk about perfect timing! Sweetwater Wetlands is one of the premier birding spots in the Tucson area and I have never been disappointed with any of my visits to this spot. Great place to find raptors and waterfowl together.
Cooper's Hawk - Adult
Ladderback Woodpecker - Male
From here we still had a bit of daylight left and we headed to Reid Park in Tucson. Usually a crowded place with lots of people, but with the dark and overcast sky, the number of humans were quite low and it actually started raining while we were there and we had to take cover for a brief time in one of the ramadas. The waterfowl here are so accustomed to people that they actually swim right up to the shore looking for handouts.
Canvasback - Female
Canvasback - Male
Another Pied-billed Grebe - had to use a flash as it was very dark with cloud cover
Results of the CBC and photos will have to be addressed in the next blog post.