Monday, July 29, 2013


7/24/2013 Wednesday:  I was spending a nice morning scouting Montosa and Madera Canyons for an upcoming client.  I heard and saw the Five-striped Sparrow in Montosa.  I saw the two Violet-crowned Hummingbirds at Madera Kubo however missed the suspected White-eared & Berylline Hummingbirds.  As I am walking from Madera Kubo back to my truck at the Amphitheater Parking Area I receive a message from Andrew, “STRE in Huachuca Cyn”.  Once I get out of the canyon I check email and find that Melody Kehl has reported a Slate-throated Redstart above the 1.7 mile parking area in Huachuca Canyon.  Andrew is not able to go, I have to decide whether I want to try on Thursday or head over immediately.  At 11:30 I turn right onto Box Canyon Road, every rabbit scatters and the dust cloud takes hours to settle. 
I arrive at the 1.7-mile picnic/parking area at 12:49 without speeding on any of the highways.  Mine is the only vehicle there, could I be the first to respond to the posting? I hike up the streambed and the jeep trail looking for the dam referenced in the report.  I have been to the dam before but do not remember exactly where it is.  I pass several trogons, two families actually, that had I taken a little time I could have had some neat photographs.  But there is something else destined to be photographed today.  At 0.6 mile above where I parked, I find another vehicle parked in a second turnaround parking area.  There Arlene & Doug Ripley are also searching for the Slate-throated Redstart.  Arlene informs me that we are not the first responders; a bunch of birders has already come and gone.  She also tells me about a bear attacking someone’s vehicle back where I have parked.  Nothing I can do about it now.  Arlene and I walk up the north side of the creek bed while Doug travels within the creek bed.  Upon reaching a second small dam Arlene spots a redstart foraging directly over my head.  I look up and through my binoculars witness the tail fanned with the pattern of the Slate-throated Redstart.  I try to raise the camera when it flies and then lands on the trunk of a Sycamore.  I snap off a half dozen images and it flies again.  All three of us get wonderful looks at the celebrated bird. We follow it for the next eight to ten minutes, watching and photographing it.  Then it disappears.  We probably could have re-found it had we not began chatting and simply felt very satisfied.  Doug & Arlene leave and I casually resume searching for the bird for several minutes.  I notice I have internet access so I post to the listserve and then begin the walk back down to my truck.  My head is in the clouds.  As I walk down the canyon, I hear trogons calling but do not give them much attention.  I watch a butterfly that seems to be leading me down the trail.  I try taking a few pictures of this yet to be identified butterfly, but again my thoughts are on the Slate-throated Redstart.  Another totally unexpected lifer that I missed a few months ago, my last North American Wood-warbler until we discover another one north of the border, and a really special bird.

Slate-throated Redstart - 7/24/2013 Huachuca Canyon, Cochise County, AZ
A few more images are posted at my Flicker site

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