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August 2nd, 2015
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Rufous-capped Warbler, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Five-striped Sparrow

A highly enjoyable day of birding and photography in the scenic Atascosa Highlands, with some good SE Arizona specialty birds.

Peña Blanca Canyon:

As soon as we got to the appropriate area, a RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER began singing and gave us brief views.

Rufous-capped Warbler

Also in the canyon, continuing BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER, calling MONTEZUMA QUAIL, GRAY HAWK, nice looks at a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, several flighty ELEGANT TROGONS, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, CORDILLERAN, DUSKY-CAPPED, BROWN-CRESTED, and SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS, BUSHTIT, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, SUMMER and WESTERN TANAGERS, VARIED BUNTING, and a very showy male HOODED ORIOLE.

Hooded Oriole

Hooded Oriole

Hooded Oriole

Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet

Turkey Vultures

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

It’s always nice to find a cryptic CANYON TREEFROG.

Canyon Treefrog

I’ve mentioned it before, but this is a particularly pretty little canyon, especially at this time of year, with abundant lush Arizona Sycamore and Arizona Black Walnut trees.

Peña Blanca Canyon

Peña Blanca Canyon

Peña Blanca Canyon

Peña Blanca Canyon

Peña Blanca Canyon

Peña Blanca Canyon

Confluence of California Gulch and Warsaw Canyon:

The FIVE-STRIPED SPARROWS were easy to find, as has been the case here all summer. It’s nice and convenient, not having to hike down into the gulch itself, although I do miss it a little every time I bypass Heartbreak Hill and opt for the easy life.

Five-striped Sparrow

Five-striped Sparrow

I sometimes find BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER down the gulch, where the habitat gets thicker and more appropriate for this species. I was pleased to find one at the confluence of the gulch and Warsaw Canyon today, the first time I’ve seen one at this particular spot. The habitat here looks even better than the gulch, with plenty of the Netleaf and Canyon Hackberries and Acacias that they seem to prefer.

Black-capped Gnatcatcher

A productive visit in the afternoon also gave us calling MONTEZUMA QUAIL, GRAY and ZONE-TAILED HAWKS, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, CORDILLERAN, VERMILION, DUSKY-CAPPED, ASH-THROATED, and BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS, ‘DESERT’ PURPLE MARTIN, nesting BELL’S VIREO, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, SUMMER and WESTERN TANAGERS, BLUE GROSBEAK, VARIED BUNTING, and HOODED ORIOLE.

Bell's Vireo on nest

Varied Bunting

We also had fun with a DESERT COTTONTAIL and lots of funky GIANT MESQUITE BUGS.

Desert Cottontial

Giant Mesquite Bug

Giant Mesquite Bug

It’s a shame that many people are ‘scared’ to visit this area due to border issues and an undeserved reputation. It’s blissfully peaceful and absolutely gorgeous!

Montaña Peak, looking from the confluence of California Gulch and Warsaw Canyon

Buff-collared Nightjar habitat at the confluence of California Gulch and Warsaw Canyon

Ocotillos along California Gulch Rd

California Gulch Rd, heading south

Montaña Peak, from California Gulch Rd

Looking towards Oro Blanco Mine, from California Gulch Rd

The southern end of California Gulch

Looking towards Oro Blanco Mine, from California Gulch Rd

Ruby Rd:

We headed home before dusk, and saw GREATER ROADRUNNER, BOTTERI’S and LARK SPARROWS, BLUE GROSBEAK, and COYOTE along the road. As the sun went down, the night creatures came out, including COMMON POORWILL and a nice, big TARANTULA.

Tarantula

Atascosa Peak, from Ruby Rd

 

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