Least Bittern at Agua Caliente Park


SE AZ & the White Mts.
June 3-8 - 50-102 degrees
- Henry Detwiler

Barry & Margie Hawthorne, hailing from Cape Town, South Africa, and I toured many of our state's premier birding locations in search of target species.    
species (list follows at end of page)

Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.

Agua Caliente Park

Osprey at Agua Caliente Park
We started off late Monday afternoon at Sweetwater Ponds, the waste water wetlands in the ne corner of Tucson. Margie quickly spotted the Least Grebe, our first target. The next morning we drove to Agua Caliente Park, and got fine looks at Purple Martin, Least Bittern, Gila Woodpecker, among others. 

From there it was off to Colossal Cave Mountain Park with its riparian creek and Sonoran desert. The highlight for Barry & Margie was the Zone-tailed Hawk, for me it was unquestionably the Gila Monster, which hissed at me and scrambled away to safety under a bush. Some of the other beautiful birds there were: Vermilion Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak, Cardinal, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, and Yellow-breasted Chat.   

After a picnic lunch we headed towards Madera Canyon, and a walk through a chain-fruit cholla forest at Sahuarita netted us a Pyrrhuloxia.  At the lodge, Mexican Jays & Broad-billed Hummers were nice additions.

Mexican Jays at Santa Rita Lodge

Acorn Woodpecker in Madera Canyon
At the Chuparosa Inn, we got our first looks at that beautiful icon of SE AZ, the Elegant Trogon, along with Yellow-eyed Junco.  The grasslands close to Madera Canyon afforded us looks of Rufous-winged and Botteri's Sparrows just before dinner. 

After dinner we watched Elf Owls bringing food to their young at the Lodge, and spot-lit Poorwills & Western Screech Owls below the canyon. The Poorwills let us approach within 5 feet, so we got excellent looks at them.

Poorwill at mouth of Madera Canyon

Wednesday morning we hiked up the canyon with Jack Murray, where our first good birds were a pair of male Montezuma Quail walking upslope. More Elegant Trogons, a variety of flycatchers, Hepatic Tanagers, a Golden Eagle, and Varied Buntings rounded out the morning. Then we hopped in the 4x4 and took off for the Patagonia-Sonoita area. At the Patons we scored with several Violet-crowned, Costa's, and Anna's Hummingbirds. 

At Kino Springs we saw a small flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and our first Gray Hawks, which were nesting in the cottonwoods. Thursday morning we went back to Kino Springs and the Roadside Rest for two missed birds: Tropical & Thick-billed Kingbirds.
Black-bellied Whistling Duck at Kino Springs

Our luck continued to hold just east of Sonoita, where we had excellent looks at Scaled Quail and Grasshopper Sparrow. Then we drove east and south to that famous hummingbird hangout--Ramsey Canyon. Not only did we hear & see a fine Blue-throated Hummer, we got good looks at Arizona Woodpecker and Black-throated Gray Warbler. But by the time we reached the Beatty's it was pretty hot and slow, and we missed the Lucifer & Berryline.

Vermilion Flycatcher

Our next stop was the San Pedro River at St. David; at the monastery we found a lingering (and injured) White-throated Sparrow. At the bridge over the river, we soon had two Mississippi Kites. Later that evening, at the Wilcox Lakes, we were treated to two Franklin's Gulls, a Wilson's Phalarope, and a White Pelican.
Friday saw us dashing up to the east side of Aravaipa Canyon. Swainson's Hawks and Scott's Orioles dotted the roadside. A mile up Burro Canyon we had outstanding views of several Gray Vireos, and finally got a nice look at a Junniper Titmouse. Aravaipa Canyon itself was spectacular, with beautiful trees & flowing water. 

Barry & Margie in Aravaipa Canyon

Our trip up to the White Mountains took us via Mule Creek into New Mexico. A Peregrine Falcon dive-bombing two perched Golden Eagles was a once-in-a-lifetime sight. Farther along, we stopped in the Gila National Forest and spotted a Grace's Warbler. As we approached the high country, elk became a common sight along the road. At Luna Lake, we capped the day with a beautiful adult Bald Eagle perched atop a pine tree. 

Our final day of birding started at Nelson Reservoir, where we watched numerous ducks and Black-crowned Night Herons. A pair of Pinyon Jays crossed the road farther north. At South Fork we finally heard and saw a lovely Red-faced Warbler. 

10,210' on top of Green's Peak
At Butler Canyon we spent a while before glimpsing a very vocal MacGillivray's Warbler. The weather was such a delightful contrast from the hot deserts that the beautiful birds were a bonus.

On the return trip to Phoenix, a Black Hawk swooped in front of the windshield at Salt River Canyon, giving us all a great look.  The fine company, the great birds, the spectacular scenery, and the Gila Monster made this an outstanding trip I'll never forget! 

Salt River Canyon

SE AZ and White Mts., 17-19 2002
# Species
1 Western Grebe
2 Eared Grebe
3 Least Grebe
4 Pied-billed Grebe
5 Clark's Grebe
6 Magnificent Frigatebird
7 White Pelican
8 Snowy Egret
9 Black-crowned Night Heron
10 Great Blue Heron
11 Least Bittern
12 White-faced Ibis
13 Northern Shoveler
14 Black-bellied Whistling Duck
15 Blue-winged Teal
16 Cinnamon Teal
17 Common Merganser
18 Gadwall
19 Green-winged Teal
20 Mallard
21 Redhead
22 Ruddy Duck
23 Canada Goose
24 Common Moorhen
25 American Coot
26 American Avocet
27 Black-necked Stilt
28 Killdeer
29 Spotted Sandpiper
30 Wilson's Phalarope
31 Franklin's Gull
32 Turkey Vulture
33 Swainson's Hawk
34 Mississippi Kite
35 Zone-tailed Hawk
36 Red-tailed Hawk
37 Osprey
38 Gray Hawk
39 Golden Eagle
40 Bald Eagle
41 Harris' Hawk
42 Cooper's Hawk
43 Black Hawk
44 American Kestrel
45 Peregrine Falcon
46 Turkey
47 Gambel's Quail
48 Montezuma's Quail
49 Scaled Quail
50 Inca Dove
51 Band-tailed Pigeon
52 Common Ground-Dove
53 Mourning Dove
54 Rock Dove
55 White-winged Dove
56 Greater Roadrunner
57 Elf Owl
58 W. Screech Owl
59 Common Nighthawk
60 Common Poorwill
61 Lesser Nighthawk
62 Whip-poor-will
63 White-throated Swift
64 Broad-billed Hummingbird
65 Broad-tailed Hummingbird
66 Magnificent Hummingbird
67 Black-chinned Hummingbird
68 Violet-crowned Hummingbrd
69 Costa's Hummingbird
70 Anna's Hummingbird
71 Blue-throated Hummingbird
72 Elegant Trogon
73 Acorn Woodpecker
74 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
75 Gila Woodpecker
76 Northern Flicker
77 Strickland's Woodpecker
78 Lewis' Woodpecker
79 Hairy Woodpecker
80 Brown-crested Flycatcher
81 Sulphur-bellied Flycatchr
82 Vermilion Flycatcher
83 N. Beardless Tyrannulet
84 Greater Pewee
85 Dusky-capped Flycatcher
86 Black Phoebe
87 Ash-throated Flycatcher
88 Say's Phoebe
89 Pacific Slope Flycatcher
90 Cassin's Kingbird
91 Tropical Kingbird
92 Cordilleran Flycatcher


# Species
93 W. Wood Pewee
94 Western Kingbird
95 Thick-billed Kingbird
96 Horned Lark
97 Barn Swallow
98 Cliff Swallow
99 Purple Martin
100 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
101 Violet-green Swallow
102 Scrub Jay
103 Common Raven
104 Common Crow
105 Pinyon Jay
106 Mexican Jay
107 Stellar's Jay
108 Chihuahuan Raven
109 Bridled Titmouse
110 Mountain Chickadee
111 Juniper Titmouse
112 Verdin
113 Bushtit
114 Pygmy Nuthatch
115 White-breasted Nuthatch
116 Bewick's Wren
117 Marsh Wren
118 Rock Wren
119 Cactus Wren
120 Canyon Wren
121 Western Bluebird
122 Hermit Thrush
123 Mountain Bluebird
124 American Robin
125 Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
126 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
127 Loggerhead Shrike
128 Northern Mockingbird
129 Curve-billed Thrasher
130 Phainopepla
131 European Starling
132 Bell's Vireo
133 Hutton's Vireo
134 Gray Vireo
135 Plumbeous Vireo
136 Warbling Vireo
137 Yellow Warbler
138 Common Yellowthroat
139 Yellow-rumped Warbler
140 Yellow-breasted Chat
141 Lucy's Warbler
142 Painted Redstart
143 Macgillivray's Warbler
144 Black-throated Gray Warbler
145 Grace's Warbler
146 Red-faced Warbler
147 Pyrrhuloxia
148 Brewer's Blackbird
149 Hepatic Tanager
150 Scott's Oriole
151 Bronzed Cowbird
152 Brown-headed Cowbird
153 Eastern Meadowlark
154 Great-tailed Grackle
155 Hooded Oriole
156 Bullock's Oriole
157 Red-winged Blackbird
158 Summer Tanager
159 Western Meadowlark
160 Western Tanager
161 Yellow-headed Blackbird
162 Varied Bunting
163 House Sparrow
164 Yellow-eyed Junco
165 Rufous-crowned Sparrow
166 Botteri's Sparrow
167 Abert's Towhee
168 Canyon Towhee
169 Song Sparrow
170 Spotted Towhee
171 White-throated Sparrow
172 Black-throated Sparrow
173 Chipping Sparrow
174 Dark-eyed Junco
175 Grasshopper Sparrow
176 Lark Sparrow
177 Rufous-winged Sparrow
178 Vesper Sparrow
179 Cardinal
180 Blue Grosbeak
181 Black-headed Grosbeak
182 Lesser Goldfinch
183 House Finch
184 Indigo Bunting

Photos Henry D. Detwiler