Michael Gertz and his family was moving from San Francisco to Ohio, and Mike was going to drive to Ohio via Arizona, while his family was flying to Ohio. We made arrangements to meet in Madera Canyon as I thought that would be the easiest place to use as a base camp for the day and a half that I had to spare and the place he might see the biggest diversity of our avian wonders. What I quickly discovered is that Mike is an excellent birder. He has a very good ear and a very quick eye. He does not miss much when it comes to birding and he has studied his birds well and needed very little assistance from someone like me. It is always fun to watch birders new to Arizona react to some of these new birds they get to witness.
After spending some time at the feeders at Santa Rita Lodge, and racking up some birds for Mike, we headed to Florida Canyon. This past winter, several reports with photographs indicated that a male Elegant Trogon had been seen fairly frequently near the parking area. I knew there were possibilities for other birds in this location as well and even though it was already afternoon, we decided to check it out. We did not find the Elegant Trogon when we arrived and when we returned from the hike, so that was a miss. However, we did have some success on the trail. At one point, we had stopped on the trail and while we were talking, we noticed something move in the dry grass about 3 feet in front of us. Did not get a good look so was not sure what it might be, but just a few seconds after the first movement, a second and a third critter moved and that was when we caught a good glimpse of them: 3 Montezuma Quail, rustling away in the undercover of the dried grass! This is not always an easy bird to detect, so every viewing of one is pretty exciting. Obviously, we were not able to get photos, but the next bird along the trail was a different story.
We had detected a gnatcatcher, and knowing that this location is a good spot for Black-capped Gnatcatcher, I had a hunch this was our bird. (Although, we did have a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher calling earlier on along the trail.) Arizona is about the only reliable spot in the United States to see Black-capped Gnatcatcher, and we not only got to see it and photograph a nice male, we also got to witness it in the construction of a new nest.