SE Arizona - California Gulch, Sycamore Canyon, & Kino Springs
Helga & Al, Suzanne & I, and the girls spent a weekend in
Southeast Arizona to look for a few regional
rarities & specialties
species -- bird list is at the bottom of the page
thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos.
|Al & Helga were heading back towards Canada on April
1st, so this was our final trip of the season together. We
decided to try for two life birds for them-- Five-striped
Sparrow & Rufous-capped Warbler. After spending Friday
night in Tucson, we headed out early to California Gulch. On the
way in to the Gulch, we were privileged to see this magnificent Golden
Eagle soaring overhead at the dam.
Golden Eagle, California
Pipevine Swallowtail, California Gulch
Sonoran Whiptail, California Gulch
The road into California Gulch was rocky, steep, and full of
curves--if only we had jeeps! Still, we made it to the top of
the gulch in one piece, and hiked down from there. The canyon
was as beautiful as ever, but much too peaceful, and
apparently too early for our sought-after Five-striped Sparrows.
The trickle in the stream provided some nice habitat, and we enjoyed
several varieties of butterflies and beautiful flowers. On the
drive out, this large Sonoran Whiptail snake was half-in & half-out
of an old well that sat beside the road.
|After a quick lunch we drove over to Sycamore Canyon,
arriving around 2:00pm. There was a fair amount of water flowing
in the stream, and we hopped from rock to rock as we headed
down-canyon. Just past this wide point, Helga cries out, "What's
Rufous-capped Warbler, Sycamore Canyon
Rufous-capped Warbler, Sycamore Canyon
It was our target, of course, a little jewel of a warbler only
rarely seen north of the Mexican border. We watched it flit
about, catching insects and occasionally singing, for about fifteen
minutes. At times, it let us approach to within a few yards.
Our final stop for the day was Pena Blanca Lake, where we picked up a
few water-loving birds.
The following morning was cool and beautiful! We
headed directly to the clubhouse at the Kino Springs Golf Course, and
looked over the sewage lagoons and the ponds across the way.
Ducks aplenty on the water and lots of warblers in the clubhouse
pines, including a somewhat out-of-place Lucy's.
Northern Cardinal, Kino Springs
Black-chinned Sparrow, Kino Springs
Once we moved over to the first, entrance pond, we were treated to
a royal sparrow show. Dozens of White Crowned, Brewer's,
Song, Lark, and fewer numbers of Black-chinned and Lincoln's
Sparrows all vied for our attention. Many broke out into
song, and was great to both watch and hear them. And then a
Lazuli Bunting brightened up the sparrow affair.
On to Patagonia Lake State Park, where a leisurely
walk down to the creek produced many of the expected birds. A
bonus for Al was a Plumbeous Vireo, which we'd managed to miss all
his prior winters here in Yuma. A pair of Neotropic Cormorants
was a first of the season for all of us, as was the Zone-tailed Hawk
we saw just north of Sonoita. The Paton's provided the usual
hummingbird banquet, with fine looks at the Violet-crowned, Rufous,
Black-chinned, and Anna's. Meanwhile, Gambel's Quail were busy
feeding around and drinking from their fountain.
Pyyrhuloxia, Patagonia Lake
Neotropic Cormorants, Patagonia Lake
Wilson's Warbler, Patagonia
Our last stop of the trip was Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson.
On prior trips the Least Grebe had always eluded Suzanne, but this
time we were lucky. It was nice and close on Pond #9, and we
had beautiful views. Plenty of Pied-billeds made for a nice
Pied-billed Grebe, Sweetwater Ponds
Least Grebe, Sweetwater Ponds
As we were coming back I caught a glimpse of a gull, and called
out Ring-billed--fortunately Al decided to take a closer look--he
pegged it as a Franklin's. And in nice breeding plumage,
too, sporting a fine pinkish breast. Blue-winged Teal were
outnumbered by the Cinnamon Teal, but this beautiful pair had to
be the most photogenic of them all. And they didn't flush
either. The long drive back didn't yield any additional
species, but we did have time to tally up our list. We'll
try it again next spring!
Franklin's Gull, Sweetwater Ponds
Blue-winged Teal, Sweetwater Ponds