Friday, July 18, 2014

AZ Big Year - Week Twenty-Seven

I had yet another week of mixed personal time & guiding.  On Wednesday 2nd I went to check on and fill the feeders at a private residence in Green Valley.  The long continuing, yet secret, Plain-capped Starthroat, made a fly by and checked out a feeder.  It may have stopped and drank from one of the feeders not visible at the time. One Thursday 3rd, I found an over summering Ring-necked Duck and now three Neotropic Cormorants (previously two).  I learned that Pima County has introduced Minnow Fish to the pond. That explains what attracting the cormorants and maybe we can get some mergansers here this winter.  While checking out the Torres Blancas Golf Course pond, I get a message that a Rufous-backed Robin has been seen in Madera Canyon. About thirty minutes later I’m talked with Peter Salomon & John Mueller and in five more minutes watch the Rufous-backed Robin fly across the trail.  For the next hour & half I tried to find the bird again so I cold get a photograph for documentation, July Rufous-backed Robins are rather unusual north of the border.
A truly spectacular beginning to Independence Day (Friday 4th) – a Plain-capped Starthroat at the Santa Rita Lodge while waiting for clients Larry & Allison to arrive.  It was still rather dark in the canyon and took a bit of time to tweak the camera settings.  I ended up with one of my most viewed photographs ever on Flicker, more than 9800 views! See
I take Larry & Allison to the Proctor Road trail.  We find many of the expected species for the season and a resurgence of singing & breeding activity.  I was surprised to hear a Buff-collared Nightjar singing a few songs in the daytime (it was overcast).  This bird was across the stream & road in the vicinity of the cattle guard. I was also surprised to see without hearing Botteri’s Sparrow from the parking lot. These sparrows have been singing all spring and now that the conditions are right for breeding they were silent.  Maybe they’ve done the prenuptials and are getting on with nesting.
After Proctor we stop at the Madera Canyon Picnic Area since we heard one of the Gray Hawks calling as we drove by. We found an adult Gray Hawk perched on the west slope of the canyon.  We searched for the Rufous-backed Robin that was seen yesterday but no luck. As we were driving up canyon heading for a hike on the Carrie Nation Trail we saw a birding friend standing in the road looking at a known Whiskered Screech-Owl cavity.  Of course we stopped and enjoyed wonderful views of the bird that normally does not perch exposed in its cavity. [I later learned that the actual nest cavity was on the other side of this sycamore and held at least two young.]  In addition to the owl we see and hear Greater Pewee, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, marvelous looks at an adult Painted Redstart.  With our time together waning, we decide to skip the hike and spend our last hour together working on hummingbird identification at the lodge. 
With no guiding on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th I do a little local birding at Amado WTP, Green Valley WWTP, and around the house.  On Monday 7th I fill the feeders at the private residence in Green Valley; the Starthroat was a no show.  I headed up to Madera Canyon and photograph the Allen’s Hummingbird at Madera Kubo & the Plain-capped Starthroat at the Santa Rita Lodge.

At the end of this week, my annual total is 375 for Arizona.

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