Yippee! Success! (well, sort of)

Saturday we walked the river trail in Tubac which we haven’t done before.  Pretty quiet bird-wise, but Bill spotted a Bobcat!  Such a lovely day to be out walking with a high in the low 20’s and sunny!

Sunday we planned to use Alex’s strategy to find the Rufous-capped Warbler.  Get to Florida Canyon before the sun shines on it (that’s not very early – 8 AM is well before the sun hits), find a place near the stream where we could sit on our stools and wait.  We sat for 2 hours and a group of Brits passed by, who were also looking – then a local fellow.  It wasn’t more than half an hour that the Brits came backand said they’d seen the warbler only 100 yards or so up the trail.  We packed up our stuff and walked on.  The local guy was taking photos of them and beckoned us to join in.  When we first saw them (there were 2!) they were too close for Bill’s big lens – so he had to detach the 800 lens to insert his close-up attachment.  Many photo ops were missed in this interval!  Bill is not so happy with these but at least it is a record.  (Our friend from NJ, Alex’s photos, are better!)  Here is Bill’s record:

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Pretty cute eh?!

Here are 3 other photos I wanted to include, though they were all at feeder stations along Madera Canyon:  a House Finch looking very pretty.

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Another shot of the Magnificent Hummingbird without his bill buried in his food (yeah, it’s a bit indistinct with the dark patch behind it!).

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Nice one of the Bridled Titmouse, showing his bridle.

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Monday we walked along the Anza Trail south of the bridge in Tubac (which is only a 10 minute drive away) to see if we could spot the Sinaloa Wren which has been seen here for awhile.  It is a Mexican species which has only been seen a handful of times in the USA – in AZ only.  No luck, even though we stood there with another birder for about an hour and a half!  We only spotted a few other birds along the way but here’s an Orange-Crowned Warbler peeking out from behind a tree trunk.

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Tuesday we visited Saguaro National Park – east side.  I just love these cacti – they make me smile and think anthropomorphic thoughts all the time – HA HA!  Here are a few of Bill’s scenery shots.  See if you can think of a caption for each one!

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I found the sign from last year explaining the special “crested” saguaro.  The photo following it is part of the sign – but the next is an actual cristate saguaro we found (looks like an unhappy girl with curly hair – oops, more anthropomorphism!)

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head start-9030There were quite a few cyclists along the 9-mile circle route – however, we didn’t see any serious mishaps – perhaps they all pay attention to this sign at the start of the circuit.

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We had a couple of birds pose nicely for us this time.  A Curve-billed Thrasher, who sang & sang (is somewhat of a mimic and has a most beautiful song!).  He’s so pretty sitting in a purple staghorn cactus.

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A Norhtern. Mockingbird reminded me of our time in TX 2 years ago, because we often had one singing outside our trailer near Mission.

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Here’s a female Phainopepla with her red eye glowing.

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Tuesday we returned to the west side of Saguaro NP to watch the Raptor Free flights – both morning and afternoon.  In this morning’s group were some different birds than last time.  A Prairie Falcon first, three different views.

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Great-horned Owl.  Look at those giant furry feet hanging onto that little stick!

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The largest of the hawks in NA – Ferruginous Hawk.  So named for “ferrous” or iron – which of course when exposed to water, turns to rust.

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Of course we found a few free-flying birds as well, including a Verdin.  A gray bird with pale belly and yellow head.  That’s some position eh!

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This cheeky Cactus Wren was displaying for his mate and really making a demonstration out of it with verbals as well as physical displays (fan tailing, puffing up, etc).  Cheeky devil.

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We again visited the hummingbird display.  This time Bill caught a lovely male Anna’s in all his glory.

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We paid another visit to a favourite area where we finally got a couple of shots of the Bobcat not sleeping (barely).

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And the Ocelot, of whom we’ve been able to see just the top of his head.  Such beautiful markings.

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In the afternoon we again visited the Raptor Free flights – and it was a hot one with temps around 28 C.  The same species were on display as the previous time in the  afternoon.  Here are some new ones of the Gray Hawk, Barn Owl and a couple of the Harris’ Hawk.  The group of 6 Harris’ which not only come when prompted by staff with food, also hunt.  They were successful and caught some type of bird.  However, only the dominant female ate it.  The females are about 1/3 again as large as the males and are quick to display dominance with a feigned fight (no one is usually hurt in these tussles).  This fellow only got a wing, but displays “mantling” – spreading wings and tail to surround his prey.  He’s atop a Saguaro.

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 There are a few animals which live amongst the captive animals like this lizard (sorry, not up on my species names!).

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Or this basking squirrel (again sorry I don’t know what kind).

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On Thursday we drove out Ruby Road, just north of Nogales (close to the Mexican border) to look for Montezuma’s again along with Five-striped Sparrows.  Of course we got neither, but found a Red-naped Sapsucker and a Pyrrhuloxia at Pena Blanca Lake.  The photo of the tree following the Pyrrhuloxia shows how sapsuckers do their work – see the small holes all in a row near the bottom of the picture?  That’s how they get the sap to run.

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We did find our Canyon Wren (no photo – by the time Bill got his camera it was gone).  It was a beautiful drive high in the hills.

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On the way home we stopped for pizza at the Italian Peasant in Tubac.  They make DELICIOUS thin-crust pizza.  We ordered a small for me (mushroom & basil) large for Bill (salami, Italian sausage & bacon) – however, they mixed up the sizes and I got the huge one, Bill the small.  So they made another large for Bill and we brought it home (along with 2/3 of my huge one (18″) .  Maybe you can see how large these pizzas are from the size of the box (which is almost 20″ a size). ( That’s Tyrian up on the top of the sofa & Bill’s hand to show scale.)  We’ve been eating leftover pizza for breakfast & lunch for a couple of days now.  Here’s a great hint for re-heating pizza to enjoy a crisp crust:  Microwave until warm, as usual – then put in a dry, stick-free frypan, shake around until bottom is toasty!  A great hint from our waitress!

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Here is a shot of the Santa Rita Mtns which are east of us, and visible from our site every day.  They were very dramatic with the clouds & rain – as well as a bit of snow on the upper elevations).  We’ve had some beautiful sunrises & sunsets (no photos yet).

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I meant to post this earlier, but we were too busy birding.  A very Merry Christmas to everyone!

Love from Lois & Bill XXOO

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