Wednesday, October 15, 2014

AZ Big Year - Week Forty-one 10/8-10/14

It felt like a really slow week with regards to birds & birding.  I guided twice, went on two solo excursions, and several hours of local birding.  I also planned but did not make it to the San Rafael Valley, twice!  We are in the period between where the bulk of the autumn migration has passed and the wintering birds have yet to arrive in substantial numbers.  As one doing a big year, I hope this is the lull in the final push to 400 and beyond. 
The guiding, on Friday 10th & Saturday 11th, was to lower Florida and Madera Canyons.  Both days were rather slow but we saw some wonderful sights including the long present female White-eared Hummingbird at the Santa Rita Lodge.  With the exception of records from Tubac 10/22/2009 and from Madera Canyon 10/15/1985, this is the latest White-eared Hummingbird around. 
My two solo trips were to the De Anza Trail near Tubac and to Pena Blanca Lake.  At Tubac I hoped to find some eastern vagrants, warblers or orioles.  I was fortunate to be standing at the right spot when a Louisiana Waterthrush flew in calling, landed on a bare branch, and then went into the deep brush next to the river.  I managed a few documentary photographs.  At Pena Blanca Lake I was also searching for eastern vagrants, specifically a Chestnut-sided Warbler that was reported a few days prior. No luck with this warbler or any other vagrant.
Louisiana Waterthrush
Some very exciting news did arrive this week.  The Plain-capped Starthroat that had been hanging around a private residence in Green Valley beginning in late-April through at least 7 July was again seen on Wednesday 8th October.  The residents had been gone for two months, August & September; the bird appears to found alternate feeders yet returned to the original feeders.  While writing this, I am making arrangements visit and see one of the most loyal hummingbirds around. (Side note: This is probably the same individual that spent the summer of 2013 at this residence.)
My plans for a trip to the San Rafael Valley was  postponed twice.  Once because I slept in.  The  second time I woke up, thought about the timing (potentially too early in the season for some of the targets), and tentatively rescheduled for next week.

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