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August 17th, 2011
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Sky Islands Birding Cup

‘Can’t Stop the Rock Wrens’ team members: Jennie MacFarland, Brian Nicholas, Kendall Kroesen, Vern Bothwell, Richard Fray.

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“Can’t Stop the Rock Wrens” team at Sweetwater Wetlands, photo by Kendal Kroesen

Highlights from our attempt at second place in the inaugural Sky Islands Birding Cup…

To start the day, we found this lovely BLACK-TAILED RATTLESNAKE on the way up the Catalina Highway while it was still dark.

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Black-tailed Rattlesnake

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Black-tailed Rattlesnake

Mt Lemmon:
WESTERN and WHISKERED SCREECH-OWL, ELF OWL and COMMON POORWILL before dawn, at scattered sites between the Catalina Highway approaching the base of the mountain and General Hitchcock campground.
SHORT-TAILED HAWK in Summerhaven.
Bird of the day, Jennie located a RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET in a mixed flock along Bear Wallow Road. Possibly one of the earliest fall record in SE Arizona?
WILD TURKEY near Inspiration Rock.
Five ZONE-TAILED HAWKS – three near Inspiration Rock and two at Windy Vista.
LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE in upper Molino Basin, seen from the road.
Eight warbler species: OLIVE (three locations), ORANGE-CROWNED (Summerhaven), VIRGINIA’S (Summerhaven), BLACK-THROATED GRAY (Inspiration Rock), HERMIT (Bear Wallow), RED-FACED (Marshall Gulch), YELLOW-RUMPED (near Aspen viewpoint) and WILSON’S WARBLER (two locations).

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Birding near Inspiration Rock, looking over Summerhaven

Sweetwater Wetlands:
Summering CINNAMON TEAL and NORTHERN SHOVELER, GREAT EGRET (plus one visible distantly on Silverbell Lake), TROPICAL KINGBIRD, LAZULI BUNTINGS all over, and two SOLITARY, one BAIRD’S and three LEAST SANDPIPERS on the East Settling Basins (#12 on this map ) which is currently the best shorebird habitat there by far.

Madera Canyon:
VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRD and HEPATIC TANAGER at Madera Kubo Cabins.

Amado Pond:
Two BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS, four SWALLOW species (NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED, VIOLET-GREEN, CLIFF and BARN).

Rio Rico:
Several BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCKS, two GREAT EGRETS, two GREEN HERONS, BULLOCK’S ORIOLE.

Patagonia Roadside Rest:
Two THICK-BILLED KINGBIRDS.

Las Cienegas:
PEREGRINE FALCON over highway 83.

Willcox Twin Lakes:
Nothing that hasn’t already been reported, apart from around 20 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS which flew in after sunset, all from the direction of the golf course. The night shift…

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Sunset over Lake Cochise

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Sunset over Lake Cochise

It was a great day, with some nice sets including: two vultures, seven hawks, two falcons, four owls, three Myiarchus flycatchers, four kingbirds, three nuthatches, five wrens and twelve warblers. RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROWS were singing at about five sites, CASSIN’S and BOTTERI’S at two or three. Much of SE Arizona is looking green, lush and beautiful.

We’ll leave our final total to be revealed at Birds & Beer on Thursday night. We wouldn’t want to tip off the winners…

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