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August 21st, 2015
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Santa Cruz County Specialty Birds

An excellent day of target birding in the Atascosa Mountains and Pajarito Wilderness, with 69 species and several big SE Arizona specialty birds.

Potrero Creek, Rio Rico:

A TROPICAL KINGBIRD was calling as we left the truck stop.

Ruby Rd:

Traveling along the dirt roads, we picked up GRAY and excellent views of a soaring ZONE-TAILED HAWK, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, GREATER ROADRUNNER, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, ‘AZURE’ EASTERN BLUEBIRD, RUFOUS-WINGED, BOTTERI’S, CHIPPING and LARK SPARROWS, and BLUE GROSBEAK.

Peña Blanca Canyon:

It took a while, but we eventually located a pair of RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS feeding in a sycamore and surrounding low vegetation. They really are splendid birds!

Rufous-capped Warbler

Warbler migration was good, with NASHVILLE, MacGILLIVRAY’S, BLACK-THROATED GRAY and WILSON’S WARBLERS passing through.

Also in the canyon, the noisy GRAY HAWK family, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, ELEGANT TROGON, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, DUSKY-CAPPED and BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS, HUTTON’S VIREO, PAINTED REDSTART, SUMMER and WESTERN TANAGERS, BLACK-HEADED and BLUE GROSBEAKS, and VARIED BUNTING. Several ELF butterflies continue.

Western Tanager

Confluence of California Gulch and Warsaw Canyon:

The FIVE-STRIPED SPARROWS are becoming less vocal, and we’d only found one juvenile until I heard the familiar twang of a singing bird, which showed really well after a bit of a wait.

Five-striped Sparrow

A few BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS were bouncing around, and fairly easy to locate by their nasal, buzzy calls. At this time of year they are increasingly hard to ID by tail pattern, as they are in full tail molt and some don’t have much of a tail at all. The call is diagnostic, so once you’ve learned that it’s not a major problem, and the bill length can be very striking at times, such as in this almost tail-less bird.

Black-capped Gnatcatcher

The general birding in the area was good, with other highlights including GRAY HAWK, YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, PACIFIC-SLOPE and ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHERS, BELL’S VIREO, ‘DESERT’ PURPLE MARTIN, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHER, WILSON’S WARBLER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW, SUMMER TANAGER, BLACK-HEADED and BLUE GROSBEAKS, VARIED BUNTING, and BULLOCK’S ORIOLE.

Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet

Rufous-winged Sparrow

Santa Cruz Beehive Cactus

California Gulch

Montaña Peak from the confluence of California Gulch and Warsaw Canyon

Ruby Rd again:

As we headed back, a pair of MONTEZUMA QUAIL crossed the road in front of us, a mile or so east of Peña Blanca Lake. I was able to grab a crappy photo through the front window. We spent a few minutes searching the long grass they slunk off into, without seeing or hearing a thing. They are so good at hiding!

Montezuma Quail

 

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