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June 11th, 2016
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Pine Flycatcher

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I finally got my chance to go for a super rarity, a PINE FLYCATCHER that was found and expertly identified by Dave Stejskal a couple of weeks previously. Pending acceptance by the relative authorities, this is the first record of this species in the USA.

Box Canyon Rd/Greaterville Rd:

As we passed over the Santa Rita Mountains we saw GREATER ROADRUNNER, LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, BOTTERI’S, LARK, and BLACK-THROATED SPARROWS, and ‘LILIAN’S’ EASTERN MEADOWLARK by the roadside, as well as HARRIS’S ANTELOPE SQUIRREL and ANTELOPE JACKRABBIT.

Gardner Canyon Rd:

More roadside birds included GREATER ROADRUNNER, NORTHERN FLICKER, LUCY’S WARBLER, CANYON TOWHEE, BOTTERI’S SPARROW, and BLUE GROSBEAK.

Aliso Spring (east side of the Santa Rita Mountains):

The PINE FLYCATCHER, presumably a female as she has built a nest, was seen before we even got out of the car! Over the next hour we had fantastic looks as she periodically came down to feed, often perching close by, seemingly oblivious to our presence. It’s hard to say that it’s a stunning bird visually, but its rarity in the region and similarity with all the other empidonax species does make it a very interesting one, especially for a geek like myself.

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

Pine Flycatcher

I could talk about the finer ID points of Pine Flycatcher, but I’m certainly no expert. This article will do a lot more to explain.

Here’s a very useful map of the area by Andrew Core. Directions to the site can be found on the Tucson Rare Bird Alert.

Also in this very nice and productive area we found BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD, SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, HUTTON’S VIREO, BUSHTIT, ‘BROWN-THROATED’ HOUSE WREN, BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, PAINTED REDSTART, SPOTTED TOWHEE, RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW, and HEPATIC TANAGER.

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher

The condition of the ‘road’ to get to the spot has been well described and debated – here’s my take. While it is undoubtedly rough, tough, steep and bumpy, it wasn’t quite as bad as I’d expected, or at least made it out to be in my own mind. I was able to make it all the way to the spot in my Hyundai Santa Fe 4×4 without any drama or once bottoming out, although it does help – in fact I’d say it’s essential – to have experience with roads like this.

It’s similar to how the road to California Gulch used to be six-plus years ago, only a bit shorter and in places a bit steeper. It should be noted that the road to California Gulch is now in much better shape and is currently incomparable to this road. It’s worth reiterating that it should never be attempted without a relatively high clearance 4×4, and you should go fully prepared with a good spare tire, jack, extra water, snacks, and a contingency plan if something goes wrong in this wild and rugged place.

Madera Canyon:

We stopped in at Santa Rita Lodge on our way back to Green Valley to see the feeder birds, which included WILD TURKEY, MAGNIFICENT HUMMINGBIRD, HEPATIC TANAGER, BLACK-HEADED and BLUE GROSBEAKS, VARIED BUNTING, BRONZED COWBIRD, and SCOTT’S ORIOLE.

Bronzed Cowbird

 

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