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SE Arizona & NM Bird Trip & Photos ~ July 19th ~ 27th '03

Elegant Trogon This July myself and friends returned to SE Arizona as well as Northern New Mexico for 7 days of birding, to look for summer residents & a couple of rare wanderers from Mexico. The highlight birds for the trip included: Short-tailed Hawk, Rose-throated Becard, Plain-capped Starthroat, Buff-collared Nightjar, Five-striped Sparrow, Elegant Trogon, Three-toed Woodpecker, Black Swift, Flame-colored Tanager, Spotted Owl, Red Crossbill, Virginia's, Grace's, Olive & Red-faced Warblers, as well as other AZ & NM specialties.
We started off by arriving in Sierra Vista, AZ at around 5pm and immediately went to the private residence here where the Plain-capped Starthroat had been appearing approximately every hour for a few seconds. Sure enough, after just a 45 minute wait the Starthroat showed up, first perching in an oak tree, then coming to the feeder. It was huge! We all had good looks at this rare Hummer.
The next morning it was off to find the Rose-throated Becard, a nemesis bird for myself, which had been nesting at the Patagonia Rest area. After chasing this bird for many years It finally appeared in my binoculars! It DID exist!!! She was collecting nest material after her nest had been destroyed just a few days earlier by the storms that came through after the hurricane on the Texas coast. We watched her for well over an hour, along with Thick-billed kingbirds feeding a fledgling. Other birds included Song sparrow, phainopepla, Violet-crowned hummingbird, Black-bellied Whistling ducks and Cassins & Western kingbirds
Typical stops after here included Pattons feeders in Patagonia, then on to the Huachuca Mtns and Miller Cnyn where we looked for the Flame colored tanager and Spotted Owl but had no luck. A White-eared hummer had been seen at the Beatty's feeders there also, but again no show. After a trip to Ramsey Canyon we called it a day.
Next morning we started off at the San Pedro River Valley to look for the Botteri's sparrow. It was easy to find and came in very close for great photos. Also here were Gila woodpecker, Mexican Jay, Summer Tanager, Vermillion Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, L. Goldfinch, Black phoebe and Blue Grosbeaks, to name a few.
Then on to Box Canyon in the Santa Rita Mtns where we had Golden Eagle, Rock wren, hooded Oriole, W. wood Peewee, Canyon Towhee, Rufous-crowned Sparrow & Ash-throated flycatcher.
That evening we headed along the Ruby Rd towards California Gulch, in search of the Buff-collared Nightjar. We arrived during daylight so tracked down the Five-striped Sparrow in the meantime, which perched for great views. Once dark we waited at the Ora Blanca Mine site where the Nightjar had been heard in the past at dusk. At 7:35pm its call rang out! Luckily it sang a couple of times and we were able to track where it was coming from and with flashlights caught the reflection of its eyes and its movement! YES! We were all thrilled to bits! It only sang twice so we got lucky!
More birds to get.... Next morning we headed for Madera Canyon again and Bog Spring. We had no luck with the previously reported Flame-colored Tanager that had also been seen in this canyon so we headed up the Bog spring trail. Nice birds here, including good views of Greater Peewee, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Plumbeous Vireo, Hermit Thrush, Western Tanager, Magnificent Hummingbird, Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers & American Redstarts. After this we made a quick trip to Willcox playa to pick up some shorebirds, including a Greater Scaup, Redhead, Cinnamon teal, Bairds sandpiper, Am. Avocet and Bl. necked Stilts.
Next morning and our 4th full day of birding we headed to the Chiricahua Mtns and all the usual stops there. At Barfoot Junction two Red Crossbills, which seemed to be nesting, flew into the tip-tops of the pines. You could hear their high pitched calls as they flew over. Had great scope views of them, also a lifer for me. Then we headed for Barfoot Park where at approximately 9am a Light morph, Short-tailed Hawk had been coming. Sure enough, at 9 am we saw the hawk and heard its long drawn out call before it became visible on the horizon. Another lifer for the whole group! Also here were Virginia's warblers, another lifer for myself.
At Rustler Park we had Graces, Olive and Red-faced Warblers as well as loads of Pygmy Nuthatches & Mexican Chickadees. Never before on a trip out here have I seen as many Mexican Chickadees as on this trip! They were EVERYWHERE! Probably due to the recent monsoon rains. In the afternoon as the weather warmed up we headed up towards south fork Cave creek. No Trogons today, but had Painted Redstart, Hepatic Tanager, Band-tailed Pigeons were everywhere (again, way more than I've ever seen before)! Dusky-capped flycatchers and then Whip-poor-wills were heard at dusk.
The 5th morning we headed back to Cave Creek and pretty soon heard a Trogon singing. We located the male sitting on a tree branch about 15-20 foot off the road. After a while it flew off and met up with another further down the creek. They both continued on. Its never a trip to the Chiricahuas without a Trogon! We then returned to Barfoot park and this time got even BETTER views of the Short-tailed Hawk which again showed up at precisely 9am! The rest of the day was spent driving up to New Mexico.
On arriving in NM we headed for Sandia Crest which is at an elevation of approximately 12,500 feet, to try a little owling. I really noticed up here that it didn't take much for me to want to catch my breath due to the high altitude. However, it really was not the right time of year for owling and no owls were heard or seen. The next morning was spent here also, with nice birds such as Pine siskins, Black headed Grosbeak, Broad tailed hummers, Band-tailed pigeons, Violet-green swallow, more Virginias Warblers (they were everywhere)! Red crossbills, Green-tailed Towhee, Mountain Chickadee, chipping sparrows, Bushtits, & Red-breasted nuthatches. Other birds were also present - it was a very birdy spot with great views of all birds.
On to Jemez Falls for the afternoon to try and locate Black Swifts which roost under the falls. It was hot out and we were very tired from being out late and up early trying for owls and I just felt like sitting down! However, 5 Black Swifts were sighted which made me forget my aching feet as I stumbled over rocks to get a better view! They then they gave us a great flyover for great views, their jet black bodies catching the sunlight as they banked from side to side. Phew! Wasn't sure if we'd get this lifer!!!
The rest of the afternoon was spent at the Dome Burn site in Bandolier Nat. Monument, an area supposedly good for Three-toed Woodpecker. We stayed for several hours but only came up with Hairy Woodpeckers along with more Red Crossbills, W. wood peewees, Clarks Nutcracker, more Virginias Warblers & Western Bluebirds. I also picked up another lifer before we left however, a Hammonds flycatcher. But now we were tired ... we'll try again in the morning!
Our last birding morning and we set off again for the burned areas in Bandolier NM. This time we stopped first at Apache Springs where the Three-toeds had also been reported. And there they were! Three of them! Three, Three-toed Woodpeckers! I was way too tired to pronounce this fast! I had my lifer!
We then drove towards Santa Fe, had a nice lunch then headed up towards the Ski Basin. Again it was very birdy up here after the lunchtime thunderstorms settled down a bit, reducing the temps to a cool 70 degrees. Dark-eyed Juncos, Mountain chickadees, Hairy woodpeckers, Yellow rumped warblers, Red crossbills, a Pine Grosbeak, Violet-green swallows, Western Tanagers, Red-naped Sapsuckers, Townsend's Solitaire, and Cassin's Finch all came out to feed. After this we went up to the Sangre De Crisco Mtns where we tried to get Evening grosbeaks in several places but had no luck. However the last few hours of daylight were spent in total awe by watching the Hummer feeders at the Terrero General Store. WOW! There must have been at least a couple of hundred hummingbirds coming to 7 feeders hung from the porch of the store. I've never seen so many hummers at one time in my whole life! And you could get right up to within a foot or two of them! They weren't bothered at all, being used to seeing humans come and go from the store all day. The three species of hummer they have here are Broad-tailed, Rufous and Calliope. I had the best views of all these birds and tried to get as many photos as I could. The day could not have ended better (except for the two American Dippers we saw in the Pecos Valley River on our way back down)! It was a great ending to a fantastic trip, with exceptional luck in finding hard to find or rare birds. I got 9 lifers total. In the morning We had an early 5am start & a long drive back to DFW Texas. It was time for bed! :-)

Fledgling Thick-billed Kingbird
Immature Thick-Billed Kingbird

This little guy was just sitting there, begging to be fed!

Patton's Feeders
Lots of Broad-billed Hummers came to the Pattons Feeders, trying to get their share of syrup.
Broad-billed Hummingbird
Broad-billed Hummingbird
Broad-billed hummingbirds.
It's amazing how their colors change in the light
Broad-billed Hummingbirds
Broad-billed Hummingbird, again!
Violet-crowned Hummingbird
Violet Crowned Hummingbird
One of the best places in SE Arizona to find these Hummers is at the Pattons Feeders and surrounding Chiricahua Mtns
Blue-throated Hummingbird
This large hummer was at the Beatty's Feeders in Miller Canyon
Blue-throated Hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Beatty's feeders, Miller Canyon
Botteri's Sparrow
Easily seen at the San Pedro River Valley SP
Botteri's Sparrow
Yea! You don't feel like you've been to Arizona until you see something like this crawl across the road in front of you! :-) This one was about 5-6 inches in length.
Ruby Road
This rugged view is along the Ruby Road heading for California Gulch
Ruby Rd to California gulch, SE Arizona
Ora Blanca mine,California Gulch, SE Arizona
At the Ora Blanca Mine, California Gulch ~ site of the Buff-collared Nightjar!
Green Beetle
Madera Canyon
Green beetle
Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake
Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake
This AWESOME snake crawled along in front of us at Bog spring in Madera Canyon. It is the non poisonous form. (Red to Black, friend of Jack!)
Western Tanager
here at Bog Spring, Madera Canyon
Western Tanager
Pipe organ cliffs, Chiricahua National Monument, New Mexico
Pipe Organ cliffs
Chiricahua National Monument
Elegant Trogon
SE Arizona's specialty! South fork cave creek.
Elegan Trogon
Sulphur butterfly & skippers on Thistle flower
Sulphur Butterfly and Skippers on Thistle
They just loved this one flower! Chiricahua's.

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