Tuesday 31 March 2015 85 °F
Today was arguably one of my favorite days of birding to date. Without further ado, let me narrate my day for you, because trust me, this will be a long post. Kudos to you if you make it all the way to the end!
My departure from the hacienda-house my family is renting was a bit delayed this morning because my uncle wanted to do a bit of birding on the property to start the day. I did not object to that idea, and we found some nice birds. BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD, male:
This rare BAIRD'S SPARROW was a nice surprise on the property:
We then left for our first birding stop if the day: Patagonia Lake State Park. The drive there was long, involving many stops for birds seen alongside the road, as well as getting lost a few times and having to call the police department (!) for directions due to faulty navigation by the rental car's GPS.
I found this bird, a PYRRHULOXIA, just as the car was pulling away from the house. It was a life bird for me, and you can see why this bird is also called the "desert cardinal:"
Here is the female:
After a bit more driving, we stopped for this RED-TAILED HAWK perched alongside the road:
Finally, we made it to Patagonia Lake State Park and hiked the appropriately named "Birding Trail" in search of waterfowl in Patagonia Lake and a rogue Elegant Trogon that has been spotted along the trail recently.
Waterfowl was abundant and beautiful, including this nice male GADWALL:
AMERICAN COOTS were the most common water bird present:
At one point, I got a quick glimpse of this female RUDDY DUCK before she dove underwater and out of sight:
Undoubtedly, the most beautiful species of waterfowl was this eye-candy CINNAMON TEAL:
Water birds were not the only avian friends present along the trail; there were other birds, as well. I only managed this crappy photo of a flyover PEREGRINE FALCON:
Mother and juvenile BEWICK'S WRENS:
This male VERMILLION FLYCATCHER flew to a perch just six feet away from me!
The birdsong quickly silenced when this juvenile COOPER'S HAWK appeared. At one point, I saw it make a low pass over some waterfowl; however, it was unsuccessful in gaining a meal.
Although I looked very thoroughly in the place it has been reported, I sadly never found the Elegant Trogon today.
The next stop was for a picnic lunch in the town of Patagonia. Of course, lunch was interrupted by a pair of GRAY HAWKS who performed aerial acrobatics for me: locking talons, diving, racing along in the wind, etc. It was very cool to watch these uncommon birds! I only managed one in-focus shot of this fast-moving raptor:
Then, we drove to the famous Paton's Feeders, owned by the Tucson Audubon Society, right in the town of Patagonia. This was quite possibly the most productive stop for birds of the entire trip so far. As well as the fantastic birds, I also met many very kind birders there.
Male YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, "Audubon" subspecies:
INCA DOVE, life bird:
INCA DOVE with a LARK SPARROW, another uncommon species:
Female LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER, life bird!
Male BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD, the most common hummingbird species here in southeast Arizona:
ABERT'S TOWHEE, the alphabetically first bird species in the American Birding Area (lower 48 states, Canada, & Alaska):
CURVE-BILLED THRASHER. The last time I saw this species was a vagrant individual back at Montrose Point with Edward & Cristen Vincent in Chicago last June:
Male GAMBEL'S QUAIL, life bird!
Then, the rarest bird of the entire Arizona trip so far showed up - a beautiful VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMIGBIRD, a very uncommon species:
On the tip of a birder from the Paton's Feeders, my uncle and I then drove to a canyon south of Patagonia to look for the rarely-seen Montezuma Quail. We saw other species along the way, such as this CASSIN'S KINGBIRD:
And my life bird GILDED FLICKER, a female:
Although we searched very, very diligently for the Montezuma Quail, it simply refused to show up. So although we missed two important bird species today: Elegant Trogon and Monezuma Quail, those misses were pretty much made up for by the VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD at Paton's Feeders, which will be my bird-of-the-day. Runners-up go to the cooperative pair of PYRRHULOXIA early this morning and the fancy-flying pair of GRAY HAWKS at lunchtime.
The complete avian species list for the day, a whopping 67 species in total, is shown below.
All in all, a fantastic day of birding! A huge thank you to my uncle for driving and putting up with me all day...! Congrats if you made it all of the way through this long post!!
More birding adventures are in store for tomorrow, so stay tuned!
World Life List: 743 Species (8 life birds today)
67 avian species today:
- life bird
- Gambel's Quail
- Inca Dove
- Costa's Hummingbird
- Violet-crowned Hummingbird
- Ladder-backed Woodpecker
- Gilded Flicker
Black-throated Gray Warbler
- Black-throated Sparrow