Monday, March 17, 2014

AZ Big Year - Week Seven

17 March 2014 Monday:  I had hoped to write at the conclusion of February, it didn’t happen.  So my new plan for blogging is to post at least once a week with a target day of the week being Tuesday.
I took the February 15th & 16th off from birding in any form.  On the 17th, I guided Jean from Mount Vernon, Washington to Fort Huachuca and Whitewater Draw.  The Sinaloa Wren again put on a great show.  I heard the wren calling within five minutes of arriving.  We were able to get eyes on target a few minutes later and watched for the next forty minutes.  
Sinaloa Wren leaf diving in Huachuca Canyon 

After losing track of the wren we hung around hoping to hear (and see) Montezuma Quail.  No luck with the quail however we did find a female Hermit Warbler that had been reported the previous day (see bad photo on Flicker).  Though a nice species to see (lifer for Jean), the Hermit Warbler is one I expected to get in April during their northbound migration.  Over at Whitewater Draw, we failed to see the pair of Ruddy Ground-Doves that had been wintering.  For two hours we searched, I must have been blinded & deafened by all the Sandhill Cranes. 
Sandhill Cranes, Snow & Ross's Geese
I conservatively estimated that there were 5000 cranes flying about and bugling.  My personal highlight for this late morning was a Northern Harrier that hunted through the field we were searching for the doves.  I got several nice photographs of the Harrier but it probably cost Jean her lifer Ruddy Ground-Dove.
Female Northern Harrier - probably second year

On the 18th, I guided Heather from frozen British Columbia.  Heather was interested in seeing anything she wouldn’t see in BC.  That is not too difficult request to satisfy. I picked Heather up near Ventana Canyon and headed over to Sabino Canyon.  We walked from the parking area to the Sabino Dam.   Some of the first birds we saw were Cedar Waxwings & Western Bluebirds and a Greater Roadrunner was nest building right on the trail.  
One of two dozen Cedar Waxwings near the visitor center 

Female Greater Roadrunner nest building next to the trail

At the dam, I got my eyes on the wintering Louisiana Waterthrush (but not my camera).  I believe Heather saw this bird in flight but not well enough to count it.  Also near the dam were Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Black-throated Gray Warblers, a single Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, a few of the Ruby-crowned Kinglets showed off their crowns once enticed, and a pair of Cooper’s Hawk that are apparently nesting.  During the walk back to the parking area, we worked on sparrows (Rufous-winged, Black-throated, & Gambel’s White-crowned) and had some excellent looks at several Phainopeplas (both male & female).  While the Waterthrush was not new for the year, I was able to upgrade its status from heard only to seen. 

Our next stop was at the Middle Bear Canyon Picnic Area.  Heather was delighted with the Mexican & Steller’s Jays though I believe her particular favorite was the Acorn Woodpeckers.  We also saw several Yellow-eyed Juncos and had a good look at a male Red-naped Sapsucker. 
Acorn Woodpecker - Always fun to see

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