Sorry it's been so long since I started recounting this trip! I've been pretty busy at my new job, which warrants its own post sometime soon. Anyway, back to the trip!
The day once again started bright and early as we headed to our next spot, the famous Salome-Baseline intersection just west of Buckeye, AZ where up to 5 species of thrashers can be seen in a morning. We got there just after sunrise and quickly found a singing Crissal Thrasher, which posed for great looks and close pictures in the morning sun. Also in the area were Western Meadowlark, Gambel’s Quail, Anna’s Hummingbird, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher and Loggerhead Shrike. We spent another hour or so wandering around the scrub trying to turn up another thrasher without much luck – at this point I decided to go wander off by myself, which turned out to be a bad decision! When I met back up with the other guys they told me they’d had Bendire’s and Le Conte’s Thrashers and a Costa’s Hummingbird, all of which would be lifers for me. After some searching I got to see the thrashers but missed the hummingbird. A few new birds for the day during the search were Abert’s Towhee, Brewer’s, Sage and Black-throated Sparrows, Ash-throated Flycatcher and Greater Roadrunner.
Sunrise over Buckeye
Searching the scrub
Crissal Thrasher with development
Then it was time to head off to Red Rock and the Santa Cruz flats via Phoenix for all-you-can eat pancakes. Our main targets here were the Ruddy Ground-doves and Rufous-backed Robins that were overwintering, along with Mountain Plovers and Crested Caracaras – we missed all of them which was rather unfortunate – some other people had seen all of them that day too! Some birds we did see included Prairie Falcon, Say’s Phoebe, Rock Wren, Orange-crowned Warbler, Chihuahuan Raven, Gila Woodpecker and a huge flock of blackbirds with thousands of Yellow-headed, Brewer’s and Red-winged Blackbirds and a few Brown-headed Cowbirds.
Looking for rarities near Red Rock
Our next stop was Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson, a nice little oasis in the desert that was full of ducks. Species here included Black Phoebe, “Mexican” Mallard, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Cinnamon Teal, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Bufflehead, Lesser Goldfinch, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and seven other species of ducks.
In the last hour or so of light we headed for Madera Canyon to see what we could pick up before dark. Not much as it turned out, but we had a very nice sunset to photograph. Bridled Titmouse, Mexican Jay, Red-naped Sapsucker and Phainopepla were all we saw up the canyon. After supper it was back into the canyon where we camped out for the night after finding a nice Whiskered Screech-Owl up at the top that didn’t seem to mind us standing almost right next to it. Several more birds called around our campsite as we fell asleep.
The entrance to Madera Canyon