Saturday, May 28, 2016

Birding Hard in SEAZ!!! (Day 2)

After a hardcore day of birding in Madera Canyon (see my previous post here) Walker, Dalton, and I stayed the night at a hotel in Green Valley so we could get some rest before a nice day of birding in the Huachuca Mountains. Once the sun rose over the horizon we woke up to eat a peaceful breakfast before driving out to our first stop of the day, Ramsey Canyon. I was very anxious for Ramsey as it has recently had a pair of Flame-colored Tanagers and nesting Tufted Flycatcher! I had been waiting to go to Ramsey Canyon ever since those Tufted Flycatchers were first found last summer. Finally, we arrived at Ramsey Canyon and I immediately heard my first lifer of the day, a Buff-breasted Flycatcher!

Buff-breasted Flycatcher

First, I checked out the loop that the tanagers had been seen on but despite a good search the only tanagers I saw were Westerns. I then hit the Hamburg Trail and hiked the 2 miles up to the Tufted Flycatchers! I had never been so determined to hike such a trail in my life! Approaching the flycatchers' territory I heard a strange double-buzz that sounded like an interaction call from a flycatcher and sure enough there they were, my lifer Tufted Flycatchers!

Tufted Flycatcher

This pair of Tufted Flycatchers have built a nest and are now waiting to lay the eggs.

Tufted Flycatcher's nest

Throughout my observation of this unique and rare species for the ABA, I got fairly close and great views! Unfortunately, my camera was acting strange and not focusing right so what would have been awesome photos turned out to be 'okay'.

Tufted Flycatcher

It was amazing to finally be watching the Tufted Flycatchers after having to wait a whole year to see them. Unfortunately, I couldn't stay all day as we still had to hit two more spots, Miller Canyon and Ash Canyon B and B. So after watching the flycatchers for a little under an hour we slowly worked our way back. On the way back we saw many awesome birds such as Elegant Trogons, Red-faced Warblers, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers!

Red-faced Warbler

At Miller Canyon we had one target and that was the Spotted Owl. Although we heard a pair earlier in the trip, seeing one is a totally different experience! So even though we had just hiked six rough miles up to the TUFLs we were ready to hike another three to and from the Spotty! Stopping at the Beatty's Guest Ranch they told us that they hadn't seen any Spotted Owls yet that day but Walker, Dalton, and I, nonetheless, still hiked up! A beautiful Western Tanager was a nice bird to see on our way up the canyon!

Western Tanager

Working our way up the canyon we ran into Mr. Tom Beatty who kindly walked us up to where he had just found a Spotty. Before we even stopped I scanned beyond us and spotted the Spotted!

Spotted Owl

This was the first Spotted Owl I had seen in almost a whole year and only the third I've ever seen! 

Spotted Owl

The Spotted Owl is one of my favorite birds, and every experience with this species has been amazing! The first time I saw a Spotty was back in 2014 at this very spot, Miller Canyon! After hiking nearly a mile up Miller Canyon back in 2014 I didn't see any Spotties. So I hiked a bit further when my family said it was time to head back. I asked them if we climb over one more ridge and they agreed to my plan. So once I reached the top of the hill I saw a group of birders talking. I approached them and asked if they had seen the Spotty when they told me to look up. Sure enough I looked straight above my head and there he was!

Spotted Owl--Miller Canyon 2014 (my lifer)

The second Spotty I saw was at Slate Creek Divide in Maricopa County. Now finding a Spotted Owl on its day roost in Maricopa County was almost unheard of and it just so happened that it was one of my lifetime goals! So while I was hiking through one of Slate Creek's many drainages with Mr. Troy Corman, and saw a Spotted Owl sitting up on the hillside I was ecstatic!!!

Spotted Owl--Slate Creek Divide 2015

Other than these three Spotties I've seen, I've also heard four others. A pair dueting in the Maricopa portion of the Superstition Mountains and another pair at Madera Canyon (from the night before). Although Spotted Owls are awesome with their large black eyes, stocky size, and chunky and laid back appearance the Flammulated Owl still takes the cake with its dark eyes and small size!

After watching Mr. Spotty sleep for a half hour we said our goodbyes and let him off with his day. Mr. Spotty winked at us as we worked our way down the canyon.

Spotty wink

Our next and last birding spot for the day was the Ash Canyon Bed and Breakfast at Marry Joe's place. We arrived on spot at around five o' clock in the evening, the Lucifer Hummingbird's (our target) usual feeding time. As we sat down and watched the feeders for a while we found that a male Anna's Hummingbird was the boss of the feeders. Every hummingbird that would come in for a drink would immediately get chased off by this territorial hummer! Our hopes sank as the male Anna's continued to chase off the hummers. However, after a half hour of waiting my lifer Lucifer Hummingbird came in for about five seconds before being chased off by that ferocious Anna's!

Lucifer Hummingbird--Note the long tail, slightly down curved bill, throat pattern, etc

We waited about an hour for the Lucifer to come back before we called it a day. After Ash Canyon we slowly worked our way to Pinery Canyon in the Chiricahuas where we'd stay the night. On our way we spotted a Common Poorwill sitting on the side of the road!

Common Poorwill

We had gone to the Chiricahuas for one bird, and that was the Slate-throated Redstart! It sounded like this bird was being seen primarily in the early morning which is why we'd be spending the night in the Chiris. It sounded like our chances were good since we could go to the redstarts nest before it were to wake up. At the moment, the only thing that felt like it could stop us from getting our bird was if we were to be searching the wrong canyon/drainage which seemed like a joke. However, that might or might have not have happened...

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