Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Continuing Education: Grasslands and Riparian

It did not take long for me to head back south to the grasslands of southeastern Arizona after my first trip with Barb and Jeanne.  Four days later, I was heading back again and this time I asked Kyle Waites if he would be interested in checking out some of these grasslands.  He readily accepted and off we went.  This time we headed straight to the grasslands and the longspur pond just east of the town of Sonoita, Arizona.  We arrived early, around sunrise, and it was overcast, cloudy and windy.  But we had prepared for that and we bundled up, got out our scopes and started scanning.  We actually arrived a bit too early as the only activity we had in the beginning was a few Horned Larks and Savannah Sparrows. It did not take long to hear the first of the longspurs flying in.  Once again, this was educational for me to experience their flight calls as they arrived and to also observe the flight patterns and compare those flight patterns to the Horned Lark flocks.  One can read about these details in books and hear it from other birders, but to actually experience it, it then gives a new meaning to continuing education. Hopefully, I will remember these points for the future.

On this visit I managed to capture a photo of the single Lapland Longspur that had eluded me on the first visit. Sad fact to this photo was that after finding the bird in my scope, and then trying to find it in my binoculars, when I raised my camera, I had no idea what I was seeing.  I just saw something moving in all the piles of cattle manure, I just started taking photos.  Surprised to get home and find I had the right bird.  We did manage to find and see all 3 species of longspurs;  Chestnut-collared, McCown's, and Lapland .

Lapland Longspur

Grsshopper Sparrow - Nice have this one pay a visit as well.

Pronghorn - I always love seeing these mammals.

From here we headed to the quaint and fun town of Patagonia to stop in for a visit to Paton's Hummingbird Haven which is now managed by the Tucson Audubon Society.  This place is well known to most birders in the United States as the best place to find the Violet-crowned Hummingbird.  And once again it lived up to its expectations as one came in to visit one of the feeders.  

 Violet-crowned Hummingbird

Keeping an eye to the sky!

Finding Cassin's Finches at this location was a bit unexpected and was a welcome bird to add to my Santa Cruz County list.  

 Cassin's Finch - Female

 Cassin's Finch - Male

 Lincoln's Sparrow

And of course Pyrrhuloxia is never a bad bird to see.

 Pyrrhuloxia - Male

Pyrrhuloxia - Female

Since we were already that far south and needed to plan a route home, I suggested stopping at Santa Gertrudis Lane on the west side of the Santa Rita Mountains.  There had been reports of a Sinaloa Wren in the recent past, but it had proven to be a bit difficult to find and did not always cooperate with many birders.  Guess this day, it decided to cooperate with a few of us birders that were there. This is Mexican species that seems to be a bit more regular in the past few years in Arizona.  It has not been reported in any other state in the United States. 

Sinaloa Wren

Our final stop was at the Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon, which is one of my favorite spots in the entire state of Arizona.  They have created a great setup for birders to watch and enjoy the birds.  And they have made it very friendly for the birds themselves.  

 Arizona Woodpecker

 Hepatic Tanager - Male

 Rivoli's Hummingbird

 Rufous-winged Sparrow

Wild Turkey - Male

We had an amazing day of birding and was able to see many of the southeastern Arizona specialties along with a lot of the really great regulars as well.  I believe Kyle ended up with 8 new life birds and he now knows where to find some great birds in some amazing spots in that part of the state. I am sure he will venture to the southeastern part of the state a bit more in the future.  It is amazing in the diversity of birds only a couple hours away from the Phoenix metro area.  We have our specialties as well, so many from the southeast also make the trek northward to see some of our great birds.    

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