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September 3rd, 2011
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Target birding in SE Arizona

I’d been looking forward to my friend Gruff Dodd visiting from Wales, and today we finally got out and found some of his target species.

We hit the ground running with many singing RUFOUS-WINGED, BOTTERI’S and CASSIN’S SPARROWS at first light in the desert and grassland between Continental and Madera Canyon.

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Botteri’s Sparrow

A hike up the Carrie Nation trail in Madera Canyon gave us decent views of a female ELEGANT TROGON, several vocal SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, lots of PAINTED REDSTARTS, migrant NASHVILLE and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS and more.

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Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard

A RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW was at Chuparosa Inn but we didn’t find any unusual hummingbirds this time. Likewise at Madera Kubo but it was fun to watch the ‘usual’ hummingbirds at close range, as always. Thanks to Cora and Luis for their generous hospitality.

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Broad-billed Hummingbird

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Black-chinned Hummingbird

Moving on, we made a brief stop at Montosa Canyon where we were shown a FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW on our arrival (thanks to Michael Lester, et al), soon followed by the family party of BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS (we counted at least six, including the somewhat amusing tail-less male) and a showy VARIED BUNTING. What a great birding site this is. Three major targets, all found and photographed in 20 minutes!

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Five-striped Sparrow

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Black-capped Gnatcatcher

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Varied Bunting

We also found this stunning TWO-TAILED SWALLOWTAIL. You don’t often get views this good, although the lighting and angles weren’t right for a great photo. We watched it for a while before it flew away. We met an entomologist (whose name I have forgotten – sorry!) who had been watching it earlier in the same place. He told us it had just emerged, which explained why we got prolonged views, so we presumably saw its virgin flight. I’ve never seen one with such long and perfect tail streamers. These presumably get broken off very easily.

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Two-tailed Swallowtail

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Two-tailed Swallowtail

Amado Pond had MEXICAN MALLARD and CINNAMON TEAL. Our brief drive-by at Rio Rico produced TROPICAL KINGBIRD, a couple of CATTLE EGRETS and at least five BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS, with every possible plumage represented it seemed.

Patagonia Roadside Rest made our lives very easy by giving us a juvenile THICK-BILLED KINGBIRD noisily begging from an adult in the ‘usual’ snag above the picnic table.

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Thick-billed Kingbird

Several COMMON GROUND-DOVES and a couple of LUCY’S WARBLERS were along Blue Haven Road. Paton’s had easy-to-see VIOLET-CROWNED HUMMINGBIRDS and easy-to-hear YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. We finished with LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE and singing EASTERN MEADOWLARKS at Las Cienegas to round off a memorable day.

We finished on 86 species, 15 of which were on Gruff’s target list.

 

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