Tuesday, August 26, 2014

AZ Big Year - Week Twenty-Nine

This week began with a couple of days of personal time.  I briefly visited Florida & Madera Canyons on Wednesday & Thursday but spent much of the two days in front of my computer catching up on paperwork and trying to do some big year planning.
On Friday July 18th evening I took Nancy Kiefer up to Madera Canyon to try for the nightjar.  We were very unsuccessful at hearing any night birds.  Saturday 19th morning I met Aaron Maizlish to begin two days of birding.  We started in Green Valley with three Harris’s Hawks and a few of the desert-wash habitat species.  On our way to California Gulch, we stop near Arivaca to watch a pair of Common Ground-Doves copulating.  Is there no privacy left in the world?  We bird watch from the vehicle as we pass through Oro Blanco Wash.  We find a singing Lilian’s Meadowlark, numerous Botteri’s & a few Cassin’s Sparrows in the grasslands. Just south of the wash we find a Thick-billed Kingbird carrying food, must be nesting nearby.  Down in California Gulch, we detect nine Five-striped Sparrows with several showing very well.  On our way out of the Atascosa Highlands we stop at Pena Blanca Lake.  While we find many interesting birds, the Least Grebe was a no show.  We continue east to Patagonia and find the Violet-crowned Hummingbird among the many expected species at the Paton’s and an adult & juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk along Blue Heaven Road. Along the path across the road from the Roadside Rest we heard a Thick-billed Kingbird & found two Northern Beardless Tyrannulets very responsive to pishing.  A quick stop at the Rio Rico Pond produced several Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks and a Long-billed Dowitcher, the latter a personal first for the location.
On Sunday 20th, Aaron & I birded our way through Florida & Madera Canyons. In Florida Canyon we get our target, the Rufous-capped Warbler, actually three of them.  We also find an early “Western” Flycatcher and a family group of three Black-capped Gnatcatchers.  Though the flycatcher was silent we both thought it was a Pacific-slope Flycatcher based on it response to Pacific-slope calls and lack of response to Cordilleran calls.   Over in Madera Canyon, we made a brief stop at Madera Kubo and picked up the frequently seen Whiskered Screech-Owl, a Greater Pewee, and a pair nesting of Sulphur-belled Flycatchers.  We hiked up the mine at the end of Carrie Nation Trail.  Our efforts were rewarded with an Elegant Trogon pair, multiple Cordilleran Flycatchers, more Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers, and a female Hairy Woodpecker.  On the way out of the canyon we stop at the Santa Rita Lodge for a quick look at the hummingbirds including a Plain-capped Starthroat and an Allen’s Hummingbird.
Later on Sunday, I meet up with Martin Reid & Sheridan Coffey for little night-birding.  Our first stop is Madera Kubo and the continuing Whiskered Screech-Owl still in its roost cavity just before 8pm.   Unfortunately the Buff-collared Nightjar was not as cooperative, we did hear a few Common Poorwills.

Early Monday 21st I was out again with Martin & Sheridan.  We headed straight for California Gulch and were rewarded with eight singing Five-striped Sparrows. Perhaps as interesting as the birds were the butterflies.  Martin’s passion for the butterflies & dragonflies rivals that of the birds.  As we reached the bottom of the gulch Martin identifies an Elf, a small butterfly considered rare north of the border but regular in a few of canyons such as California Gulch.  Martin also finds & identifies a Valeriana Skipper, another rarity from south of the border, among the more usual suspects; Empress Leilia, Elada Checkerspot, and Arizona, Acadia, & Common Streaky Skippers plus others I haven’t identified yet.   To wrap up our little adventure, the three of us made our way back to Green Valley and then up to Florida Canyon.  We tried for about two hours to see the one Black-capped Gnatcatcher we heard.  It was somewhat of a downer for what was otherwise a nice day.
No new year birds for the week, still standing at 377.

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