|Bob's Gone Birding on Mount Ord!|
I left Sierra Vista early the next morning and drove directly to the Paton House in Patagonia. I had read that their feeders often hosted an Abert's Towhee, a bird very high om my most wanted list. I arrived to find a small group of birders already in place including one guy who held a small camera just inches from one of the hummingbird feeders. He was remarkably patient and remarkably motionless. Sure enough, after a few minutes a hummingbird flew to that feeder and the guy snapped away.
I sat under the tents and watched the feeders for a couple of hours. I saw Violet-crowned, Broad-billed, and Black-chinned Hummingbirds. A Phainopepla dropped by as did a family of Gambel's Quail. A Blue Grosbeak joined the House Finches at one feeder and a White-breasted Nuthatch crawled around on a stump near the Inca Doves. Then a Curve-billed Thrasher joined the White-winged Doves at the west end of the yard.
I left the yard thinking I had seen everything that Paton House had to offer. I was wrong. I sat in the car in the parking lot munching on a snack when I saw motion just a foot or two away from the hood. It was a small gray bird with an indistinct eye ring, maybe a soft wash of color under the tail, and a little chestnut colored spot popping up on the head. It was a Lucy's Warbler! I nearly spit my lemonade all over the dashboard. I reached for my camera and got two quick shots off through the tinted window before the bird disappeared. You can see the pictures here and below. I wish they were better photos -- but it's a gosh darn Lucy's Warbler!! Yes, I was thrilled.
My next stop was the fabled Patagonia Roadside Rest. Almost as soon as I arrived I got my third lifer of the day when I heard a group of immature Thick-billed Kingbirds. Unfortunately, there was no sign of the Rose-throated Becards that have nested there in the past.
|Lucy's Warbler through a tinted window.|
On my first visit to Madera Canyon I had dipped on one bird I really wanted to see, so I stopped near Florida Wash and walked along the road a little. I scanned the tops of the bushes until I heard the call I was hoping for - a Rufous-winged Sparrow. I pulled out an iPod and played the song for myself to be sure I was correct. The songs matched. I followed the repeated song and finally found the bird. It was the fourth lifer of the day. After that I decided to spend the balance of the afternoon at Santa Rita Lodge munching on a Klondike bar and watching the feeders. I had another look at a Plain-capped Starthroat and the more typical feeder birds like Lesser Goldfinches and Black-headed Grosbeaks. In all, it was a wonderful day. I was at 51 lifers for the trip and one day to go.
Perhaps if I was following a traditional itinerary my final stop would have been Mount Lemmon, but I like to look for places that are off the beaten path. So instead I spent my final day on Mount Ord, an under-birded spot northwest of Scottsdale. The road up the mountain is narrow and rough with just a few pullouts for safe birding. Nonetheless, I had some luck almost immediately. Within the first quarter mile I had a quick but definitive look at a Gray Vireo, lifer #52 for the trip. A moment later while watching a Zone-tailed Hawk fly directly over head, I heard another of my target birds singing quite close to me. After a quick search I located a Black-chinned Sparrow, another lifer. One of the sources I had read in preparation for this trip had asserted that both of these species were almost guaranteed in the first part of Mount Ord, and here they were! How cool is that?
|A textbook look at a Zone-tailed Hawk|
That was where my trip ended, but not where this blog series ends. During the ten days I wandered around southeast Arizona, my greatest joy - of the many I experienced - was watching hummingbirds. So the final entry in this series will center on the twelve species I saw and the many photos of them I took. I hope you enjoy it.
|Another View of a Lucy's Warbler|
|Immature Thick-billed Kingbird|
|Border patrol Checkpoint on US 19|
|Female Phainopepla at the Patagonia Roadside Rest|