Friday, May 30, 2014

AZ Big Year - Week Eighteen

30 April 2014 Wednesday: Birding Madera & Florida Canyons with Kellylynn & Ron from Minnesota and Fred & Anne from Seattle, all guest of the Chuparosa B&B
Chuparosa B&B – upon my arrival, two male Elegant Trogon decided this was the place to have a discussion.  Makes my job easier.
Florida Canyon – heard Montezuma Quail singing, Zone-tailed Hawk, two calling/singing Northern Beardless Tyrannulets, many “Western” Flycatchers – five identified by call as Pacific-slope, one as Cordilleran, and at least four were silent, heard Black-capped Gnatcatcher, a Swainson’s Thrush, and three Rufous-capped Warblers.
Madera Picnic Area – female Gray Hawk on nest
Madera Kubo – Magnificent, Black-chinned, & Broad-billed Hummingbirds
1 May 2014 Thursday: Out with Mark & Chris Taylor from the U.K. also guests of the Chuparosa B&B.  We birded Florida and Madera Canyons.
Florida Canyon – Golden Eagle, Immature Gray Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, two Rufous-capped Warblers, singing Black-chinned Sparrow
Carrie Nation Trail – a somewhat late Red-naped Sapsucker, four Violet-green Swallow (not common in Madera Canyon)
Madera Kubo (alone) – continuing Inca Dove, Grace’s Warbler, male Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Proctor Road (alone & much later) – Elf & Western Screech-Owl, Common Poorwill
2 May 2014 Friday: Out with Mark Frankel, his son Steve, and his two cousins. We met at the Amado Territory and headed to California Gulch.
Amado WTP (alone) – continuing female Greater Scaup, continuing Neotropic Cormorant, one Cattle Egret, 36 Wilson’s Phalarope.
California Gulch – two Gray Hawk in riparian area at sough end, Costa’s Hummingbird, Olive-sided Flycatcher, five Five-striped Sparrows (3 singing males, 2 calling females)
Montosa Canyon – a second year male Elegant Trogon called, possibly the bird that wintered in this canyon and has yet to head to the high country; identified a Dusky Flycatcher by sight & sound, and heard a Black-capped Gnatcatcher calling near the culvert.
Amado WTP (alone again) – thirty-eight Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, a continuing female Greater Scaup, 86 Wilson’s & 2 Red-necked Phalaropes, and an early Tropical Kingbird.
3 May 2014 Saturday: A bit of personal birding with Andrew in the Green Valley area. Can’t or won’t talk about our first stop.  Our second stop was the Amado WTP where we found a male & two female Blue-winged Teal, the continuing Greater Scaup, one Neotropic Cororant, a Willet, and 90 Wilson’s Phalarope.  Nearby we stopped under the highway bridge and studied Cliff Swallows (northern & southwestern) and saw a Gray Hawk.  Next we headed to Green Valley WWTP.  Besides finding Mark & Molly, we saw three more Blue-winged Teal, 10 White-faced Ibis, 105 Wilson’s Phalaropes, and a Long-billed Dowitcher. A quick check at the Mulberry trees at the Continental Wash yielded 30 Cedar Waxwings, 12 Western Tanagers, & nine Black-headed Grosbeaks.
4 May 2014 Sunday: Out with Richard May of Hawaii to Florida Canyon & Huachuca Mountains
Florida Canyon – Costa’s Hummingbird, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, many Western Tanagers
Huachuca Canyon – Olive-sided Flycatcher, Sinaloa Wren, Swainson’s Thrush, calling Cordilleran Flycatcher,
Miller Canyon – female Northern Goshawk on nest, female Northern Pygmy-Owl in cavity, male “Mexican” Spotted Owl near nest, Blue-throated Hummingbird, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, seven Red-faced Warblers
5 May 2014 Monday: Out with Jeff Shenot target birding in the Huachucas.
Huachuca Canyon – The Sinaloa Wren was a challenge today.  It took an hour & twenty-two minutes to find the wren.  We had not heard it and were about to give up when I checked yet another bird flitting in the lower branches of a sycamore.  It was silent and foraging like a warbler.  I had seen this behavior before from this individual but for only a few seconds between its more typical foraging in the leaf liter & low shrubs. After about ten minutes of the unusual foraging method, the wren dropped to the low bushes and made it way over to a bush near the bridge.  This also happens to be within a few feet of the nest he built late last fall.  Within this bush, barely visible, he began singing a very song version of his song. 
Next we headed to Miller Canyon to see nesting owls & a goshawk.  We were not able to find the roosting male Spotted Owl so I had to resort to finding the female on (or is that in) the nest.  All that we could see of the female owl was the top corner of her head. A few hundred yards past the Spotted Owl nest is the nest cavity of the Northern Pygmy-Owl.  The female pygmy-owl poked her head up for a brief look out her cavity while we watched.  We looked for but could not find the male pygmy-owl.  He was probably watching us though.  We continued up the trail with a nesting Northern Goshawk as our main goal.  I’ve seen her several times this spring and again she sitting on the nest with her head barely showing above the rim.  Even this view is wondrous. 
Jeff and I continue up Miller Canyon hoping to find a second pair of Spotted Owls that were seen roosting over the trail yesterday. We do not find any more Spotted Owls but on the hike up and the return hike we find a hybrid Flame-colored x Western Tanager, several Buff-breasted Flycatchers, a pair of Greater Pewees, singing Grace’s Warblers, nesting Red-faced Warblers, and a locally uncommon Red-breasted Nuthatch.
Having finished a wonderful day with Jeff, having daylight left, and a rare bird not exactly on the way home, what do I do? I call Max and ask if I can come by to get a look at a Gray Catbird that has been spending some time in his yard. Max agrees and forty–eight minutes later greets me at his back gate, pulls up a couple of chairs, and spots the catbird before I do (it is his backyard).  We watch the Mulberry Tree (the big attraction) and the birds coming & going. 
After an hour or so I excuse myself and head over to Lake Cochise.  Several rare and/or interesting year birds were found yesterday and seen earlier today.   The first of these I see is the Semipalmated Sandpiper & then a Lesser Yellowlegs. While counting individuals in two large flocks of Willets a Marbled Godwit flies in a lands in the middle of them.  I have to start my Willet count over. As I am leaving Lake Cochise, I pull over into the large dirt area near the observation platform overlooking one of the golf course ponds.  I nearly run over a Least Tern.  The tern flushes and I get some seriously backlit photos.  The tern disappears to the west.  I check the ponds & nearby golf course and see the Least Tern as returned. It hunts over the close pond before flying to the east of me allowing for some decent flight shots with the sun at my back and then settles down on the graveled open area for more photographs.  I am able swing wide and drive away without disturbing the bird (at least it didn’t flush again).  I got five new year-birds in two hours – that fact makes the hour & half drive home flyby.
I get home after 8pm exhausted but with a smile, it has been a long 15-hour day.
6 May 2014 Tuesday: First day with Susan & Warner, the itinerary today is much like yesterdays. 
Huachuca Canyon – found the Sinaloa Wren within 5 minutes of arriving, chased migrants around the picnic area including a Buff-breasted Flycatcher.  Above the 1.7-mile picnic area, we found a pair of and a single male Elegant Trogon.

Miller Canyon – I was able to find the male Spotted Owl roosting in his once preferred roost site (directly over lower trail).  The female Northern Goshawk continues incubating eggs; we could see her tail and her head.  We heard the male calling from lower in the canyon and hoped would deliver food while we waited. Other species of interest include Greater Pewees, Cordilleran Flycatcher, two Buff-breasted Flycatchers, and a Canyon Wren nest.

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