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November 20th, 2011
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Sweetwater Wetlands, Anza Trail at Carmen

The last of three days birding with Ken Burden from Washington state. Ken was an absolute pleasure to spend time with. At 85 years young, he’s as bright as a button and he outsmarted me constantly (which I guess isn’t difficult). His amazing stories kept me entertained throughout. Thanks Ken 😀

We began at Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson and quickly found the continuing CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER, which was hanging out with a TOWNSEND’S WARBLER in the cottonwoods directly west of Hidden Pond. Also there, a yellowy SUMMER TANAGER by Hidden Pond, with another or the same heard calling to the south of the complex, plus all the usual delights Sweetwater has to offer.


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler

We spent a while searching for the Short-tailed Hawk in its east Tucson wintering area (Seneca/Ridgeway) without success. We had a brief look for it on Tuesday afternoon and came up empty then as well. Has anyone looked for or seen this bird lately? A stunning male BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD was some consolation.

After missing it yesterday, we headed south for another go at the BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER along the Santa Cruz at Carmen (Tumacacori). We found it quite easily, by the blue plastic jug balanced on a railroad tie, along with a lot more bird action than yesterday afternoon. This included BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, CASSIN’S VIREO and GRAY FLYCATCHER. A RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW was singing in the mesquites to the west.

We checked a few ponds without finding anything much. A lowland AMERICAN ROBIN was feeding at a small pyracantha bush by the golf club on Plaza de la Cotonia, Desert Hills Estates in Green Valley. There was still a BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK at Amado Pond.

For the fifth year in a row, a GRAY HAWK has chosen the Arivaca Road exit on I-19 at Amado as it’s wintering area. It’s probably the only one in the U.S.A. at the moment, but it certainly didn’t make itself difficult to find today. It’s a shame more birds don’t take this approach when it comes to revealing their whereabouts…


Gray Hawk, this way…

On my way home from Tucson to Patagonia, a PRAIRIE FLACON flew over I-19 just south of Valencia in South Tucson and there were still a couple of TURKEY VULTURES along River Rd south of Rio Rico.

A great few days of fall birding in SE Arizona with a charming and extremely interesting companion.


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