April 29 – This morning we attempted to find the Sinaloa Wren along the Anza Trail near Tubac. The walk of about a half a mile through the towering cottonwoods was very pleasant. Yellow-breasted Chats seemed to be everywhere and we eventually saw a couple of them quite well. Summer Tanagers sang from the treetops, while Lucy’s Warblers flitted about in the mesquites. Gray Hawk sailed overhead, and our first Black Vultures were finally seen as they sunned themselves atop telephone poles. We got the wren spot and I was annoyed to find someone working near the trail with a jackhammer…I couldn’t hear a thing, thus we dipped on the wren.
After breakfast we headed over to Patagonia Lake State Park and the birding here was very good. On the lake and in the marshes around the lake we had our first Cinnamon and Blue-winged teal, as well as Gadwall, American Coot and numerous Neotropic Cormorants. A nice surprise was a Long-billed Curlew standing on a muddy spit. Green Heron was seen well and we got our best looks yet at Common Yellowthroats in the marsh. In ‘Nutting’s Wash’ we had a lovely male Hermit Warbler pictured below.
It was quite a surprise to see David Chapman and his wife right at the ‘Birding Trail’ trailhead, where they had parked their lovely RV. I think he was just as surprised to see me as I was to see him. My group and David and his wife were very surprised to look up and see what was my best bird of the day, an adult Common Black-Hawk soaring overhead. This is only my third sighting of this species ever in AZ.
We carried on to the pleasant village of Patagonia and had our lunch at the Gathering Grounds, a fantastic locally owned and run cafe. After lunch we sat at the Paton’s and watched feeders. The usual suspects were around including the local star, Violet-crowned Hummingbird once again. The only new species we added here for the trip were two Pine Siskins at the thistle feeders. I turned around, checking on my group, to find at least two had dozed off in the afternoon sun. Therefore, I cracked ‘the whip’ and we headed for the Patagonia Roadside Rest Stop. It was the heat of the afternoon here, and not too much was happening, though we did have great views of a Rock Wren. Also, we had our best looks at Bell’s Vireo here, and watched Rufous-crowned Sparrow hopping about on the rocks.
April 30 – Today was a hard day’s work for a guide. We’re getting near the end of the tour and all the ‘easy birds’ have already been added to the list, and I’m trying to find some tough ‘last minute’ birds for the group. We started off in Florida Canyon where a long and fairly gruelling uphill hike did not result in locating a Rufous-capped Warbler. The scenery was great and we saw some cool birds like Scott’s Oriole, Zone-tailed Hawk and Rufous-crowned Sparrows to name a few. We had lunch in Madera Canyon and watched the feeders at the kubo for about half an hour. Nothing too exciting was there, but the clan was happy to watch a Plumbeous Vireo sitting on its lovely little hanging ‘cottonwood fluff’ nest. We also watched a pair of Painted Redstarts bringing food to young here as cameras clicked.
We then tried looking for Botteri’s Sparrow in the grasslands at the entrance to Madera Canyon. I was successful in finding the sparrow and several people saw it, but not everyone so I was not fully content. We then tried for Black-capped Gnatcatcher and again had no luck, most likely due to the 30 degree heat and afternoon wind, but nonetheless. To finish off the day we popped back over to the Rio Rico Ponds in case a Tropical Kingbird had appeared, but no such luck. Some days you find em’ all and some days are a bit like work.