Sunday, June 7, 2009

Whirlwind Birding Pt 3: Nogales to Phoenix, a nine lifer weekend

California Gulch

After the Five-striped Sparrows, our next stop was nearby Sycamore Canyon. 
Sycamore Canyon also runs to the border and doesn't get birded a lot so the potential for rarities is greater.  However, the rarest bird we found was our 3rd Thick-billed Kingbird of the weekend:

Since we had dipped on Flame-colored Tanager the first time, we decided to head to Madera Canyon to find it.  Madera was only a 30 minute drive north to we arrived rather early in the morning. As we drove in, a Botteri's Sparrow flew across the road and I spotted a Rufous-winged Sparrow sitting in a bush as we drove by.  We drove up to Madera Kubo, parked and got out. Less than 30 seconds later, Jacob spotted the Mr Flame as he came down to the jelly feeder. I managed to get a shot of him a minute later: 

A minute later, this Hooded Oriole also posed for his portrait: 

Having nothing left to do in Madera, I called my friend Tyler to see what he was up to. He said that he knew where there was a Common Black-hawk nest.  Tyler lives in Tempe but we had the whole day so we drove up to pick him up.  It was then that we found out that the nest was another hour's drive away.  We drove out to Sunflower, AZ where Tyler managed to pick out the nest. The hawk was sitting on it, in plain view:  

It was my 8th lifer of the weekend. 

After seeing the hawk, Tyler also mentioned that he knew where to find some Gray Vireos. Gray Vireo was a lifer for me so I readily agreed. 

We drove out to the vireo spot and stood listening.  We heard many Black-chinned Sparrows singing. I managed to get a few decent photos: 

The Sparrows were great, but our real target was the vireo. After listening and pinpointing one down the slope, we were able to get him to come in: 

Lifer #9 for the weekend! 

There aren't many places that I can get 9 lifers in one weekend. Southeast Arizona (until now) was one of them. 

We drove back to Phoenix and dropped off Tyler at his house. Then, Jacob and I continued on to Tucson where he had left his truck.  
As we drove along the road to the house, I spotted two hawks sitting on the wire. They didn't look quite right for Red-tailed though. I did a U-turn and went back. Sure enough, there were two Harris's Hawks sitting on the wire. While not a lifer for either of us, it was a decent year bird: 

I dropped off Jacob and drove home to Portal. I arrived home shortly after midnight, exhausted, but exhilarated after an amazing weekend of birding in Southeastern Arizona. 

It was quite possibly the best birding weekend I've ever had.  Jacob and I managed to actually see every rare or uncommon Mexican species known to exist in Southeast Arizona at the time! 
I never expect to have luck like that again any time soon. 

Anyway, til next time, Happy Birding! 

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