Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Arizona: In Florida

After yesterday’s bust on the Rufous-capped Warbler in Florida Canyon, I decided this morning to give it another go. I arrived at the canyon at 6:30am, and before heading up the canyon I worked the parking area in hopes of locating two recently seen Black-capped Gnatcatchers. Unfortunately, the gnatcatchers were nowhere to be found, but I did pick up Bell’s Vireo, Northern Cardinal, and several Broad-billed and Rufous hummingbirds. From the parking are I slowly made my way up the canyon, checking every bird in sight. There were lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers, a couple of Orange-crowned Warblers, and numerous Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

At about 200 meters up the canyon I bumped into another birder who was visiting from Phoenix. He too was looking for the Rufous-capped Warbler, so we worked together to improve our odds. Further along the trail we picked up Black-throated Gray Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Rock Wren, Canyon Wren, Costa’s Hummingbird and several Lesser Goldfinches. At about 600 meters up the canyon we arrived at the “dam”, the lower location where the Rufous-capped Warblers generally occurred...but not today. We continued further up the trail and scanned the shrubbery and undergrowth intently, but with no luck. We did however flush-up a male Elegant Trogon, so that was nice to see, being it only my second sighting. With just a bit more perseverance, but not an ounce more luck, we finally gave up looking for the Rufous-capped Warbler; neither of us were terribly disappointed...he had seen them before and just wanted it for his 2014 year list, and I had seen them previously in Panama and just wanted it for my United States list.
Back at the parking lot we made another effort to find Black-capped Gnatcatcher, but had no luck. We did pick up Black-headed Grosbeak, Gray Vireo, Canyon Towhee, and what we thought was a Townsend`s Solitaire but unfortunately couldn’t get a good look before it disappeared.
After parting our separate ways, I began the long journey south and east to Sierra Vista via Nogales. The winds were gradually picking up and the bird activity was slowing. Along the way I decided to check out a bunch of locations I’ve not previously been to. The first on the list was Tubac, an artsy town about halfway between Green Valley and Nogales. The best birding here is in the riparian area, where I immediately added five Gray Hawks to the list. These were soon followed by Lucy’s Warbler, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Bell’s Vireo, Barn Swallow, and my second-ever sighting of Rufous-winged Sparrow. At the Tubac bridge I added Cassin’s Kingbird, Common Yellowthroat, and Cedar Waxwing.
From Tubac I headed to Rio Roco, where I added just one species to the day-list, Swainson’s Hawk. At Nogales I added another Gray Hawk, but drove directly through the town and on to Kino Springs. Here I added Say’s Phoebe, a pair of Swainson’s Hawks, and a pair of Cassin’s Kingbirds. From Kino Springs I headed to Patagonia Lake where, despite a howling wind, I managed to add several species for the day, including: Ruddy Duck, Double-crested Cormorant, Black Phoebe, Great-tailed Grackle, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet  (second-ever sighting), Black Vulture, and Cliff Swallow. From Patagonia Lake I drove to the town of Patagonia, where I immediately headed to the Patons’ House (formerly, as they have now passed on and the National Audubon Society has purchased the residence under a joint-venture agreement). At the house were two highlights: Inca Dove and Violet-crowned Hummingbird.
The day was now getting short, and I had a long drive to Sierra Vista. Therefore, I decided to call it a day as far as birding was concerned and make my way to the hotel. The wind was ever-increasing, which was not likely to bode well for the coming day or two of birding if it keeps up. Once at Sierra Vista I had a few minutes to check out Ramsay Canyon...well, sort of. I got to the preserve only to find that it was closed on Tuesdays (today) and Wednesdays (now scrapped my plan for tomorrow). Back to Sierra Vista to call it a day.
Total Species for the Day: 72
Total Species for the Trip: 137
Total Lifers for the Day: 0
Total Lifers for the Trip: 2

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