Now….on with the photos and our Arizona birding report!
Day 23, Monday, 13TH of May, 2013
Off to the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area today. We got lost on the way and wound up at the dead end of some road that felt like the road to nowhere. It was a magical area, the kind of area I had in mind when I mentioned in Trip 3, where I could get in touch with my soul with the slight breeze in the tall Cottonwood trees and a meandering creek. There was no one else around but Chris, me and birds…yep…birds! I chased the Vermillion Flycatcher all over on the San Pedro riverbanks…..smiling.
Moving on to where we were supposed to be….the Conservation area….we were pleased to come upon a great find. The volunteers here do a wonderful job caring for this area. There are hiking trails throughout the dry fields and along the shaded San Pedro River. Very beautiful and scenic but no newbies for us here except some t-shirts! However, we do have a few shots for you. Chris zeroed in on this Yellow-breasted Chat.
I had the good fortune of shooting this Bewick’s Wren.
Day 24, 14TH
For the next three days, we birded in the canyons of the Huachuca Mountains. The first day we were off to Huachuca Canyon with our trusted guide and driver, Laurens Halsey. We wound slowly through the Fort Huachuca Army base to get there but when we arrived, there were birds everywhere!!!
I was really hoping that we would see Elegant Trogans again. They are such color rich birds and it’s always an awe inspiring experience for me to view them. Chris….he wanted new birds! However…when we saw them, he was shooting away and captured this Elegant Trogan looking back at him.
Laurens spotted a pair of Elegant Trogans further up the trail. We chased them through the woods for a while, a scary thought now as I’m sure there were rattlesnakes, scorpions and other creepy crawlers hiding in the foot deep fallen leaves. I see why people get bitten so easily. You are caught up in the moment of seeing beautiful birds, trying to get a shot of them and most certainly are not thinking about what’s under your feet! Guess I was pretty darn lucky. When we ended the chase in the hardwood forest, I said as much to Laurens and he agreed wholeheartedly but smiling, he said, “I had your back”. I bet he did too.
I decided to meander on down the canyon as I often do because I like to listen to nothing but the sounds of silence, only interrupted by birds calling. Or, perhaps my guide yelling….Debbie!!!!! The female (elegant trogan)….she’s coming your way! I see movement and look to my right deep into the forest. I see her! She landed on a tree limb, probably 150 feet from me.
Now…I knew this was a mating pair as they were hanging together. I thought to myself, the male’s going to be coming. I drew my camera up on my monopod, checked all my settings, switched to manual as autofocus was not an option through all
the tree limbs, found her and…froze. It’s not long before I hear Laurens…Debbie!!! The male’s coming your way!!! I held steady for what seemed like several minutes, not breathing, my anticipation high.
He came into my viewfinder, mounted her and was gone in the matter of seconds and………I caught them in the act!!!! Laurens said that was the first time he had ever seen them mating, period. Let alone capturing it in a photo! I was smiling real big time!
As you can see, the male and female elegant trogan are both just that, elegant and beautiful.
We also got three new birds in Huachuca Canyon.
The Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. Bet you can see why they are called that….
The Warbling Vireo, and the
Plumbeous Vireo. This guy was starting a nest.
Here’s a better body shot.
Day 25, 15TH
Today, Ramsey Canyon and the Preserve were on the radar. We arrived at the preserve and low and behold! It was closed…on Tuesday and Wednesday. This being Wednesday, we were out of luck. Not to be cheated out of our birding day, we headed for Carr Canyon. In the photo to the left, you can see the three canyons of the Huachuca Mountains that we birded.
We did not see many birds that we didn’t already have with the exception of one..this Greater Pewee that Chris captured.
Coming down the mountain, we kept getting glimpses of this blimp as we rounded the switchbacks. When we got down a little further, it had landed.
The government uses them to watch for illegals coming over the mountains.
Chris also got this Buff-breasted Flycatcher.
Day 26, 16TH
Chris and I went back to Ramsey Canyon, which was beautiful but we did not get any new birds. It was a very serene place but too many people for our taste. Was a great morning hike tho!
Stay tuned for Southeast Arizona Birding Trip 5!