After 2 days sorting, making pet-friendly hotel reservations, cleaning, doing laudry, taking care of as much business as we can, we birded our last few days here in AZ. I just finished the last Charlotte & Thomas Pitt novel by Anne Perry (although her new one is coming our April 9th!). So now reading Ian Rankin’s latest, the return of Rebus “Standing in Another Man’s Grave”. Birds and books, ahhh life is good!
March 24: Off to Ash Canyon. There was only 1 destination cited in the book which was a B&B in Ash Canyon. We drove up the Ash Canyon road to find the hillsides all burned up! Then checked the website & saw the B&B was on the previous road. A wonderful yard filled with birds. Unfortunately for Bill I saw a pair of Scott’s Orioles in the front yard which he never did see (2nd time he missed them!). They are 1 of 2 orioles which are yellow, not orange.
We drove down to Coronado National Memorial (just N of the Mexico border) & had lunch there. Unfortunately nothing new in the bird dept – although Montezuma Quails were mentioned in the book! Just the usual Mexican Jays trying to mooch our lunch!
We stopped briefly at the very southern end of the San Pedro Riparian area at Hereford Bridge where I spotted a Bell’s Vireo – a new bird – which Bill also saw.
Back to Mary Jo Ballator’s B&B in Ash Canyon where we found 2 kinds of orioles – unfortunately, again, no Scott’s! Here are a few photos for your enjoyment. A Hooded Oriole about to pounce on the orange.
A very common warbler – Yellow-rumped (Audubon’s subspecies) – in full spring plumage.
You have seen a photo of a Broad-billed Hummingbird before, but this shot captures the width of its bill near the base, as it heads for nectar:
I’ve included 2 photos of the Magnificent Hummingbird. The first shows the iridescent turquoise & violet as it faces you – and the second a shot from the side with only a few irridescent glints.
March 25: Off to Portal again – but this time through the mountains from west to east! Right up Pinery Canyon (where my friend John did his trail ride on horseback). It is 20 miles of dirt road & in winter would be nearly impassable (unmaintained). But we were questing for the elusive Mexican Chickadee…& we still are! Oh well, I guess we need to leave something for next year!
Once in Portal we walked the roadway to the feeder yard, where we saw the usual suspects, but what we thought was a Calliope Hummingbird! We haven’t heard any reports of it in the area, so asked the woman who lives there, but she said she usually sees it in August. However, our photo was good enough to confirm it & meantime she checked in her book to say it has been seen at this time before! This photo is not really very good, but you can see the white stripe across the face & the serrated gorgette (throat marking) – albeit through a cage around the feeder (to keep the birds safe from predators).
Had lunch in town. How hilarious – Bill ordered the Garden burger (expecting lettuce, tomato, etc. on his burger) – got a vegetarian patty! He actually liked it, but won’t order it again. LOL
We couldn’t resist this shot of an Acorn Woodpecker, although they are very common & we’ve seen so many – they are very beautiful!
Lastly, and how appropriate we should see this bird on our second last day of birding – because it is the header-photo of my Blog – Inca Dove! Although the ones on the header are taken in Texas at Bentson State Park. This little dove is only 8 1/2″ long.
We heard someone ponder the other day why doves are used as birds of peace when, if anyone watched them at a feeding station, they’d see such terrible squabbles! Mary Jo from the Ash Canyon B&B said she’s fallen in love with Bushtits (perhaps a new nomination for bird of peace?). They never squabble, often fly in flocks, & she leaves nesting material & had seen then pull out the cotton fluff and fly off as if in a cloud (material several times the size of the bird!) – what a nice sight. When she lived in California & had an orange tree, after a rain the scooped leaves held water & she’s seen about 30 taking baths, each in a separate leaf. That made her fall in love with them. What a nice story! Here are 2 of the Bushtits from her yard (4 1/2″ little, gray birds):
March 26: Last day of birding of the trip – off to San Pedro where visitor center it located. Tried to find the Wilson Warbler, to no avail. We did see lots of birds though. We ran across 3 fellows who’d been out since 7 AM & had (when we last ran into them) 53 species! That’s quite a tally – it being their 1st time here.
We often spot deer along the stream.
In some places the trees are dense.
This Red-tailed Hawk was sitting for the second time in the same place in the top of these trees with twigs up his butt! This is the most common hawk we’ve seen on the trip.
A Lincoln Sparrow forages along the stream – another common sparrow streaked with gray, black & rust.
Final species tally: 236!
Now we leave the land with street names like Ocotillo Blossom Rd, Barrel Cactus Way, Prickly Pear Lane, Saguaro Hwy, Javelina Junct., Quail Run, etc. Gone will be mountain ranges called Coronado, Huachuca and Chiricahua. No longer will we hear the reverberating song of the Cactus Wren nor the long melodic song of a Curve-billed Thrasher. I think I heard the buzz of my first mosquito today. (It’s been lovely birding without “OFF”!) I will wrap up with a short blog to document our arrival home.
Hey Lo! Tell Bill his photographs have been amazing, especially the ones where he catches the critters in motion. I am always in awe of his talent! I have also loved your writing, especially your humour! The winter did go by fast didn’t it? I’m sorry you have to leave but I saw my first gull the other day and our weather has been just beautiful so there is a bit of incentive for you to come home. 🙂 Look forward to visiting with you on your return. Safe trip. xxoo