Monday, August 18, 2008


its time to read 'em and weep! Before the list though, I will finish the story of the deadly dangerous, death-defying camp site. The Bog Springs campground was a peaceful secluded site with no more than a cinder block- surrounded hole in the ground to make your deposit in. No sink to wash your hands, but we were roughing it in the canyons where Geronimo roamed and I am sure he didn't have a sink. We did have a water spigot that we figured out how to use the second night we were there. I forgot to mention that on the first night after the whole tire fiasco that we came across this rattlesnake in our campground when we got back.Black-tailed Rattlesnake before I touched it - Madera Canyon, AZ

Black-tailed Rattlesnake after I touched it - Madera Canyon, AZ

No doubt this Crotalus Molossus set my mind even more at ease sleeping in the canyon with my 6 year old! Anyhow, on with the birding. We got up in the morning as I said and I wanted to get up Old Mt. Baldy trail to look for the trogon again. I did not want to leave Southeast AZ without seeing this specialty of the region. There were jays all over the campsite in the morning. I saw a Western Scrub Jay but am not sure that is what they all were. There are plenty of Mexican Jays in the area(SE, AZ) as well. On the way up the road it was impossible not to stop at the hummer feeders and see if there was anything exciting. We stopped at the first one, the Santa Rita Lodge, and saw nothing new but ran into another nice lady who told us they were banding hummers at Chuparosa Inn, the B&B up the road closest to Old Mt. Baldy trail. YEE HAW!! A close up and personal hummer! She also gave us some donut stix. We made our way up to the trail and to the spot where the trogon should be. We heard a barking seal and figured it must be the trogon. Searching the boughs for it where we had heard it, we saw it! No, it was an Acorn Woodpecker. My heart sank. Really, a woodpecker can sound like that? Oh well. Then a flash of a largish bird near the woodpecker...a frog in my throat as I raised my magical make things bigger glasses and YES! Elegant Trogon. Wow.
Now we wanted to get back down the trail to see the hummer banding before they were done. On the way down we heard the aforementioned squeaky toys in the trees again and were determined to find out what bird was making this funny sound. Playing chase on foot and through the trees with the rangers finally I got a good look at a Kisskadee-like masked bird. Great, I still had no idea what they were! That is the most exciting thing about birding for me at this point...seeing a bird and not knowing what it is. I enjoy the challenge of figuring it out. We saw a couple of local birders on the way down and I asked them what was making the racket and they asked "the ones that sound like squeaky toys?" and I said "Yes!". "Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers....rare bird." Awesome! They are a cool looking bird and fun to see.

We did get down to the banding on time. They had little net tents that would drop down enclosing the whole feeder to trap any hummers that came in to drink. When the bander would work with the bird he would stick its beak in a feeder on the table and it would drink. These suckers are tiny in the hand. Things were slow and we only saw 2 which were both black-chins. Black-chinned Hummingbirds were definitely the most abundant hummers out there.

This was the last day we would be here and it was mostly going to be about visiting the famous hummingbird spots around Southeast, AZ. We were looking for and found plenty of other new birds along the way. As we made our way out of the canyon we saw a Greater Roadrunner and a couple of Black-throated Sparrows! It looked like Box Canyon Rd. cutting across to 83 would be the quickest way over to where we needed to be so that is what we took. Box Canyon Rd. is an unpaved, super twisty, hilly, scare Evil Knievel drop-offs on the side, drug smuggling trail. Not quick but some great birds including super highlights, Zone-tailed and Gray Hawks! There were some cool bugs and such I forgot to mention on Madera Canyon Rd. as well.

Horse Lubber - Madera Canyon, AZ
White-lined Sphinx Moth larvae - Madera Canyon, AZ

We were going to some backyards and canyons even further south and east to try and increase the hummingbird count. The first was the Paton's backyard in Patagonia where I saw a few great birds aside from hummers and some fire engine red dragonflies, wings and all, which I have yet to identify. At the Paton's we saw the Violet-crowned Hummingbird and I pooped my pants a little at the sight of it. They are amazing looking! Much more so than the field guide pics. Probably the coolest looking one for me. On to the southernmost canyons for the last 2 stops of Beatty's apple orchard to pick up white-eared and then to Ash Canyon B&B (a nice woman's backyard) for the variety. Turns out Ash Canyon was by far my favorite and most fruitful. Comfy chairs with great company around a beautiful garden full of hummers! 10 species in the brief time we were there! It was getting late in the day and we were running low on gas. I wanted to get back before dark to the campsite. We surely didn't want to head back Box Canyon Rd. but the other options were so far out of the way that it seemed just too far. We stopped to get gas around 7pm. The gas stations were closed. No problem, all the pumps have credit slots. Not ones that worked! It was Sunday and there wasn't another gas station anywhere to be found and we were running out of daylight fast. I decided to go back via Box Canyon Rd. because mileage-wise it was the shortest way by far and the gas gauge was just about on red. As we entered Box Canyon the needle dipped into red and the sun began to set. We were sure to be drug smuggled or careen off the steep cliff edge of the road. As dark set in we were 1/4 of the way down the road and virtually out of gas. Luckily the road was downhill most of the way back to Madera Canyon so I would put the car in neutral and blast down the hills out of control to save gas. Coming around one turn I saw a goatsucker right in the middle of the road and saw a ring around its neck entirely. I had no idea what it was other than it was not a Common Nighthawk. I figured I would look at the book and if lucky would find only one goatsucker ranged here with a ring around its neck. Sure enough to my surprise the only one in the book that had a ring around its neck was the Buff-collared Nightjar....the rarest to be found! After putting it on e-Bird an Arizona records dude contacted me and told me that he wouldn't dare report a BCNI in AZ on visual alone as the whips in the area also have a complete collar. Turns out the guy was Rich Hoyer a senior leader for WINGS and probably knows what he is talking about. So, I took it off my e-bird and downgraded my list by 1. Expletive, if I can't trust my field guide what in the hell am I supposed to use to i.d. birds?! I can't report a whip either because after all, it could have been a BCNI. After lots of coasting and many horribly big banging bumps we made it to Madera Canyon Rd. in one piece. Now, turn right 10 miles to town and try to get gas or left 5 miles uphill to the campsite on zero gas? Left. The gas stations could be closed. We made it back to the campsite, after dark of course, but early enough for smores and to brush our teeth. Sunday night. Our neighbors were gone and the darkness was no ordinary dark. It was scare the devil absolute darkness. The only people in the campsite were weirdos and drug snugglers and I was feeling very uneasy(scared shitless). We got in the tent and I couldn't sleep. I got a few hours of restless sleep and was up beginning to pack at 3am. Outside in the pitch black I heard some rustling in the veg outside of my small circle of headlamp light and looked up sure to find a huge mother Black Bear ready to maul me to death because I had just stepped out of the tent between her and her cub. As I looked out into the abyss a small pair of reflective eyes was stationary, glaring back at me. I figured it was a Bobcat about to leap onto my face and bite my jugular vein out. As I was about to shriek, the animal turned a bit revealing that it was a small fox. Do foxes kill people was my first thought. I felt like I was drinking coffee and had used cocaine for creamer. As I realized I was not going to die from fox attack, I set out to pack everything up including the tent in the terrifying blackness. As I did a nightjar or small owl flew right in front of my face and I finally peed my pants. If I didn't finish quickly I would die of a heart attack. As I was working the fox walked right up and past me at about 10 feet away. Very cool and a little bit scary. I don't know how I did it(fear) but I got all packed up and got Liam in the car by 3:30am. He whined and moaned at the early hour but we had to make a very early flight. Now all I had to do was coast all the way out of the canyon to a gas station. I actually did coast just about the whole way and made it. We were very lucky to get on our flight and not get stuck all day in airports but that is another story altogether.


Hummingbirds First

  1. Black-chinned Hummingbird
  2. Broad-billed Hummingbird
  3. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
  4. Magnificent Hummingbird
  5. Blue-throated Hummingbird
  6. Calliope Hummingbird
  7. Rufous Hummingbird
  8. Violet-crowned Hummingbird
  9. Lucifer Hummingbird
  10. Costa's Hummingbird
  11. White-eared Hummingbird
  12. Anna's Hummingbird
  13. Elegant Trogan
  14. Cactus Wren
  15. White-winged Dove
  16. Sulphur-bellied flycatcher
  17. Painted Redsart
  18. Western Scrub Jay
  19. Mexican Jay
  20. Chihuahuan Raven
  21. Great-tailed Grackle
  22. Hooded Oriole
  23. Acorn Woodpecker
  24. Varied Bunting
  25. Blue Grosbeak
  26. Lesser Goldfinch
  27. Rufous-winged Sparrow
  28. Cassin's Sparrow
  29. Band-tailed Pigeon
  30. Eurasian Collared-Dove
  31. Greater Roadrunner
  32. Lesser Nighthawk
  33. Zone-tailed Hawk
  34. Gray Hawk
  35. Black-throated Sparrow
  36. Pyrrhuloxia
  37. Bullock's Oriole
  38. Phainopepla
  39. Gambel's Quail
  40. Flammulated Owl
  41. White-throated Swift
  42. Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  43. Canyon Towhee
  44. Thick-billed Kingbird
  45. Curve-billed Thrasher
  46. Rock Wren

44 of these were lifers!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice list, and yes, foxes can kill you!