21 May 2014 Wednesday: With a last minute cancellation, I found myself with a free day. With little time to plan, I chose to visit a few of the ponds near Green Valley. A quick visit to the Amado WTP produced two Snowy Egrets and a male Ring-necked Duck that will probably be spending the summer. Otherwise, I rested and began catching up on paperwork.
22 May 2014 Thursday: Today I guided Bruce & Kris to Huachuca and Miller Canyons. The Sinaloa Wren was not to be heard or seen this morning. Two Pacific-slope Flycatchers seem to me to be late. To be expected, Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers were visible & vocal at both ends of Huachuca Canyon Road. A pair of Curve-billed Thrasher appeared to be building a nest a near the Camp Gila Picnic Area. Above the 1.7 mile picnic area we were blessed with wonderful looks at a male Elegant Trogon. In Miller Canyon above the Beatty’s Guest Ranch, the female Northern Goshawk continues incubating or brooding, the female Spotted Owl was perched just outside the cavity, the Northern Pygmy-Owls were not to be seen. At the Beatty’s feeders, the male White-eared Hummingbird continues to dazzle.
After I finished guiding, I headed over to Lake Cochise with hopes of seeing several rarities found yesterday and see earlier this morning. I first saw the American Golden-Plover. I took some distant yet identifiable photographs of this rare species for southeast Arizona and very good year bird. On the east edge of the lake I found three Ring-billed Gulls and one ratty California Gull. And then I see the Black Tern hunting over the lake nearby. On my pass around the lake, I found the Snowy Plover foraging & hiding beyond clumps of grass. I was fortunate to see it and had no time to even attempt to get a photo. I looked for the Snowy Plover from other vantage points without seeing it again. Back on the east side of the lake, amongst the four larger gulls was the basic plumaged Bonapart’s Gull, probably a second year bird that won’t get full alternate plumage this summer. I check out the golf course pond prior to leaving. The sun is low in the sky and makes viewing this pond and the nearby golf course difficult. However, I found a Willow Flycatcher in the willows (go figure) at the northeast corner of the pond. This little excursion netted five year birds! And I saw several other species of personal interest like Scaled Quail, Green-winged Teal (rare this time of year), a flock of White-faced Ibis, and twenty-two Spotted Sandpipers.
23 May 2014 Friday: I was out again with Bruce & Kris in the Huachuca Mountains. We first climbed up Carr Canyon Road to the Reef Townsite and Ramsey Vista Campgrounds. At Reef Townsite among the numerous Buff-breasted Flycatchers were pair of Greater Pewees that appear territorial. We also scored with the warblers, good views of singing male Virginia’s, Grace’s, and Olive. At Ramsey Vista, we found three Band-tailed Pigeons perched up fairly close (rather than flying by), an Olive-sided Flycatcher, a male “Azure” Eastern Bluebird, and more Buff-breasted Flycatchers. During the drive down Carr Canyon Road, we encountered a pair of Bushtits in the scrubby oaks at one of the hairpin turns overlooking Hereford.
We then spent an hour at Ash Canyon B&B hoping that a Lucifer Hummingbird would show up, no such luck. While there I learned of an Elegant Tern that was found at Patagonia Lake State Park. We already had plans to go to Patagonia. We traveled to Patagonia where we spent a half-hour at the Paton’s feeders scoring at least one Violet-crowned Hummingbird. By the time we got to Patagonia Lake, it was hot. The tern had been reported flying from the west end to the east end of the lake. We concentrated out search from the visitor center eastward and came up empty.
After dropping Bruce & Kris off back in Patagonia, I headed back to the lake. This time I obtained a permit for the nature area. From here, I am able to scan the west end of the lake, section of the lake not visible from any of the park’s picnic areas. There it was! An Elegant Tern flying high over the lake plunge diving. I watched & photographed for several minutes before it disappeared to the east. I re-found the bird thirty minutes later in a cove across from the swim beach area (I was at the visitor center).
24 May 2014 Saturday: Today I participated in the Santa Rita Mountain Trogon Survey. My assigned territory was the upper end of the Carrie Nation Trail in the Hopkins Fork of Madera Canyon. This is about a ½ trail-mile above where Louise & I surveyed last year and near the location where I found two recently fledged trogons last summer. The first part of the count was stationary (06:00-09:00) and I positioned myself along the trail a settled in for the long wait. As it turns out, I positioned myself within a hundred feet of a trogon nest. When I arrived on the scene a male trogon was calling as if on territory and would occasionally fly down canyon to deal with another male intruding. Eventually he settled down and called consistently from one group of tree (not in the stream bed) and at least trice called with his head in body-out of the cavity. Either he likes the acoustics of the hollow tree or the female was hard of hearing. Between episodes of watching trogon behavior, a female White-eared Hummingbird visited me. Though brief, it was a wonderful visit. Wonder if she is also was nesting nearby. During my hike down the Carrie Nation Trail, I ran into a couple of birders (also trogon surveyor) that told me about a Mexican Whip-poor-will on the trail below the second stream crossing. Sure enough, not on the trail exactly but close was a Mexican Whip-poor-will sitting on a rock in plain view across the stream bed.. What a wonderful punctuation for a wonderful morning.
25 May 2014 Sunday: Today another trogon survey, this one in the Patagonia Mountains. For the second year I was fortunately assigned Corral Canyon. Last year was my first visit to this shallow canton and I found at least one breeding pair of trogons and a second year male. This day I found one breeding pair at their nest thanks to the female flying across the road and landing in the cavity. The mated male was off barking at another male, apparently an intruder on his territory. Another mile & half up the this canyon was a second male calling & foraging in the oaks on the side of the canyon. This male’s calls sounded as if he was bonded to a female and therefore implies a second breeding pair nesting in this canyon of marginal habitat (at least to this human’s perspective). Besides the trogons this is a wonderful place to spend a morning birding. I had a Thick-billed Kingbird at 2.6 miles above the main road and a pair of “Azure” Eastern Bluebirds.
After completing the survey and in route to home, I stopped at Montosa Canyon to look for a male Hooded Warbler reported from the day before. No luck with the warbler on this rather warm early afternoon.
26 May 2014 Monday: Absolutely nothing in the field having to do with birds.
27 May 2014 Tuesday: Another day with no guiding. I could even claim I was unguided. I tried check on the nightjars early in the morning on my way to Las Cienegas. Then checked out the Amado Pond and Torres Blancas Golf Course. The only excitement was two Greater Scaup at the pond on the Torres Blancas Golf Course. These birds are rare at any season in southeast Arizona and were will documented.