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August 14th, 2015
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Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival: California Gulch

With Jake Mohlmann, I led a successful field trip for the Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival to California Gulch, taking in several other sites along the way.

Arivaca Rd:

Several LESSER NIGHTHAWKS flew over as we headed out early morning. Driving through the grassland area east of Arivaca, I was surprised to see a SCALED QUAIL fly across the road. Luckily, there was enough room to park two vans at the side of the road, and we were able to relocate it, along with three more. It was an excellent random roadside stop, as we also added RUFOUS-WINGED, CASSIN’S, BOTTERI’S, and BLACK-THROATED SPARROWS, LARK BUNTING, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, PHAINOPEPLA and BLUE GROSBEAK.

Arivaca Lake:

A fairly quick stop here was very productive, the highlight being a vocal BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER, my first at this site.

The TROPICAL KINGBIRDS have fledged two young.

Tropical Kingbirds

Tropical Kingbird

Quite a few swallows were passing through, mostly BARN but also a few NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED and several BANK SWALLOWS.

Also at the lake, PIED-BILLED GREBE, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, COMMON GROUND-DOVE, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, COMMON YELLOWTROAT, YELLOW WARBLER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, LARK SPARROW, SUMMER and WESTERN TANAGERS, BLACK-HEADED and BLUE GROSBEAK, and LAZULI BUNTING.

Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet

California Gulch:

Our main target was FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW, and it wasn’t too hard to find a few.

The general birding was good, with other birds including good views of a ZONE-TAILED HAWK, NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET, nesting BELL’S VIREO, several BLACK-TAILED (but no Black-capped) GNATCATCHERS, PHAINOPEPLA, BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, RUFOUS-WINGED and LARK SPARROWS, a flock of 50+ LARK BUNTINGS, SUMMER and WESTERN TANAGERS, PYRRHULOXIA, BLUE GROSBEAK, VARIED BUNTING and HOODED ORIOLE.

Zone-tailed Hawk

Peña Blanca Lake:

Our main goal was Rufous-capped Warbler, but unfortunately we failed to locate one. The canyon was less birdy than of late, although we did find BLACK VULTURE, GRAY HAWK, ARIZONA WOODPECKER, DUSKY-CAPPED and SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS, HUTTON’S and WARBLING VIREOS, NASHVILLE and WILSON’S WARBLERS, and WESTERN TANAGER.

When we got back to the vans, I went to the door to open up my van and get the air con going, and almost stepped on an adult male VARIED BUNTING which was on the ground, obviously stunned from having flown into the side of the van. Everyone got fantastic views and photos of this lovely bird before we picked it up. After a short while it recovered and flew away – a happy ending to a great tour.

Varied Bunting

Varied Bunting

 

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