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August 8th, 2009
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Kenn Kaufman

Tucson Audubon Society is celebrating its 60th birthday this year. America’s best-known and most respected birder, Kenn Kaufman, a keen supporter of TAS who lived in the city until four years ago, came back to help us celebrate.

I had the pleasure of meeting Kenn at a special party in his honor on Thursday night, and on Friday I was privileged to spend the day birding with him, along with John Yerger, Paul and Eng-Li Green and several others.

We left the Tucson Audubon office in downtown Tucson at 6:00am and headed south on I-19. Our first stop was at the rest area just south of Green Valley, where we found several singing Rufous-winged Sparrows amongst others.

Our destination for the morning was Patagonia Lake. I spent a while photographing insects, and Kenn gave us a masterclass in flycatcher identification. Interesting species included Willow and Dusky-capped Flycatchers, and good looks at Northern Berardless Tyrannulet.

We headed out to the National Audubon Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch where we had lunch, generously provided by TAS board members Sandy and Mary-Kay, and a fascinating talk from the researchers about their work.

The afternoon was spent at Beatty’s Guest Ranch in Miller Canyon, enjoying the hummingbird action. The place was buzzing and we had great looks at the two big stars of the show, a female Berylline Hummingbird and a fine male White-eared Hummingbird.

Birding with Kenn was a tremendous experience for me and the whole group. It’s like birding with a walking, talking field guide! And a funny one too – Kenn has a brilliantly dry sense of humor and made it an enjoyable as well as an educational experince for everyone. My thanks to Kenn, and to TAS Executive Director Paul Green for inviting me on this once-in-a-lifetime field trip. 😀

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