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My last day of target birding with Bilal, covering a lot of ground from Patagonia to Willcox to Sierra Vista, and picking up some unexpected bonus birds along the way.
Potrero Creek, Rio Rico:
TROPICAL KINGBIRDS were calling near the truck stop.
S. River Rd, Nogales:
Our first surprise of the day, a CRESTED CARACARA flew north along the Santa Cruz River. We also saw our now obligatory GRAY FOX for the day.
Patagonia Roadside Rest:
The first target was THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD, and the regular pair duly presented themselves in the usual spot.
Also here, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, a singing male VARIED BUNTING, and a group of WILD TURKEYS nearby.
We drove through the grasslands looking for Scaled Quail. We didn’t find any, but did see SWAINSON’S HAWK, GREATER ROADRUNNER, a BURROWING OWL at the northernmost BLACK-TAILED PRAIRIE-DOG reintroduction site, WESTERN KINGBIRD, BOTTERI’S, LARK, BLACK-THROATED, and GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS, BLUE GROSBEAK, and ‘LILIAN’S’ EASTERN MEADOWLARK.
We also saw a small herd of PRONGHORN, which is always a welcome sight.
One interesting fact about Pronghorns is that, unlike deer, they can’t jump, so fences present a problem for them. Recently there has been a push to help Pronghorns in the area by removing the lowest wire of barbed wire fences to allow the Pronghorns to scoot underneath safely and easily. It’s pleasing to see this in action.
Willcox Twin Lakes:
We found our SCALED QUAIL in the usual spot at the end of E. Fairway Dr.
It would be rude to visit the quail without stopping in at Lake Cochise, so we took a quick look. The best birds were two RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, one in breeding plumage and one in non-breeding plumage for a real ‘field guide moment’.
Other shorebirds comprised a bunch of AMERICAN AVOCETS, a few KILLDEER, and a single LEAST SANDPIPER in breeding plumage, and we also found ‘MEXICAN’ MALLARD, CINNAMON TEAL, WESTERN KINGBIRD, and HORNED LARK.
Sulphur Springs Valley:
We were looking for BENDIRE’S THRASHER and eventually found a pair near Kansas Settlement. They never gave us good views, and these barely even count as record shots!
Interestingly, there were at least five WESTERN TANAGERS in the same area, late migrants still passing through. Driving the valley, we also encountered CHIHUAHAN RAVEN, HORNED LARK, and PYRRHULOXIA.
I didn’t think we’d have much chance of seeing CRISSAL THRASHER, but we did, along the entrance road to Whitewater Draw.
A LESSER NIGHTHAWK was already feeding here by mid-afternoon, and a BLACK-TAILED JACKRABBIT dashed about.
Ash Canyon B&B :
Our final target bird was LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD, and a beautiful female obligingly came in to the feeders for great views.
This very special place also gave us great, close views of MAGNIFICENT, BLACK-CHINNED, ANNA’S, BROAD-TAILED, and BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRDS, SPOTTED and CANYON TOWHEES, HEPATIC TANAGER, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, BULLOCK’S and SCOTT’S ORIOLES.
Mary Jo alerted me to the noise of thrashers and towhees, which were alerting everyone to the presence of a snake. It took some finding, but I eventually found this splendid WESTERN DIAMONDBACK RATTLESNAKE tucked in at the bottom of the big brush pile. This was the best photo I could get without disturbing the snake. Thanks Mary Jo!
Ash Canyon B&B is a great place to see rare and unusual birds, but also study and re-appreciate some of the more common birds that can sometimes be taken for granted.
This melanistic GILA WOODPECKER was interesting to say the least.
Finally, thanks to my new friend Bilal for three great days of birding and being so kind to Minno!