Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

Images

DVD

Contact

Site map

Links

Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Species list

Text only


Day 5 (Tuesday, 20th May)

The morning started well on the drive from Continental to the Box Canyon road junction, where we had a pair of Red-tailed Hawks on overhead wires, 2 Black-throated Sparrows (one sharing a bush with a Botteri’s Sparrow), American Kestrel on the wires, and Western Kingbird.

The minute we set foot out of the car, we found a pair of Lucy’s Warblers, which were feeding young in a nearby bush. They showed the very obvious rufous crown, which was nice because it confirmed the first definite Lucy’s that we had seen. We had been chasing a few small grey warblers earlier in the week, but without clinching views. We crossed the barbed wire fence via a small metal “style” to the East of the road, and wandered down into the Wash itself, which was not in the least bit aptly named at this time, since the river bed was completely dry. We thus “waded” along a rock strewn path, bordered by thorn bush woodland on the left, and single row of bushes to the right. This was immediately productive for singing Black-throated Sparrows, and perching (briefly) Broad-billed Hummingbirds. A little further down was an unexpected male MacGilvray’s Warbler, which was feeding its way through the denser part of the bushes. After following a Northern Beardless-tyrannulet from the wash into the adjacent bushes, we stumbled on a Verdin’s nest under construction. The birds themselves added to the nest only a couple of times before we left them to their chores. Putting in an appearance while waiting here were another Beardless-tyrannulet, Wilson’s & Grey Warblers, and singing Black-throated Sparrow.

Florida Wash

Black-throated Sparrow

Dry river bed at Florida Wash

Black-throated Sparrow

Madera picnic

Madera picnic

Madera picnic site

Trail North from picnic site

Only about 4 miles further up the Canyon from Florida Wash, we parked the car at the Madera picnic site, and paid the $5 fee. A small gathering of Mexican Jays were pecking up titbits around the picnic tables, and these were accompanied in the surrounding trees by Summer Tanagers, Townsend’s Warbler, Acorn Woodpeckers, and Bridled Titmouse. We were taken aback a little when we found running water in the stream, so we set off to look for birds downstream. First to be seen were Flycatchers, in the form of Dusky-capped and Western Wood-pewee, which were both very vocal. We covered a distance of about ½ to ¾ of a mile, criss-crossing the water a couple of times via bridges along the way. Most of this was under the cover of trees, with the occasional open views to the West. Birds were picked off along the way, and it was a particularly good stretch for Hepatic Tanagers (with one Western Tanager male singing) and Mexican Jays (2 parties, one of which almost fed at our feet). A couple of small flocks of Bushtits were nurturing newly fledged young, including one happily resting and begging on a branch which seemed to take an age to locate. The parents eventually saw to its needs before it moved on. Of the 2 species of Woodpecker here, 1 of the 3 Acorns was almost immobile at the top of a telegraph pole, while an Arizona was more difficult to pin down feeding lower in the denser bushes. A couple of Rufous-crowned Sparrows also preferred to forage in the shade at ground level. We disturbed a pair of Cooper’s Hawks when we returned to the car park, which then flew downstream. We had hoped to find Black Phoebes here, but the only Flycatchers here were Dusky-capped and a single Western Wood-pewee.

Hepatic Tanager

Hepatic Tanager

Male Hepatic Tanager

Female Hepatic Tanager

Mexican Jay

Lesser Goldfinch

Mexican Jay

Lesser Goldfinch

Sierra Lodge

Lodge feeding area

This is a very pleasant small collection of rentable cabins, consisting of about 8-12 properties, a gift shop (closed on our visit), a restaurant and site office. A small wildlife attraction area had kindly been provided, which is a small enclosed section of the premises, with both hummingbird and seed feeders. On first pass, it seems to be overrun by House Finches and Goldfinches, but these can be seen to be augmented by Black-headed Grosbeaks and Black-chinned Hummingbirds. 15-20 minutes into this small spectacle, the first convoy of 3 birders minibuses that we had encountered on the whole trip pulled up and ejected their contents on the surrounds – they did seem to have a habit of sticking together like glue, and were in fact the only party we were to meet. Apart from these, the sites we visited were fairly quiet, with never more than a few people milling around. The most impressive site around the lodge was at least half a dozen Acorn Woodpeckers plying to and fro, with 3 at the top of one telegraph pole at one time. Another first here were clouds – covering most of the sky, and together with a brisk wind, providing a little bit of cool (making it hot, as opposed to very hot). This also seemed to coincide with a few more birds passing through. A couple of Broad-billed Hummingbirds were followed by a female Lazuli Bunting (quite a boring little individual, with a buffy coloured breast and barely discernible blue tinge to the tail). The more outstanding birds returning to the feeders were the Black-headed Grosbeaks, with at least 3 females and 2 males.

The trail from the lodge to the amphitheatre, about 400 metres long, was quiet and relatively birdless, apart from Bridled Titmouse and White-breasted Nuthatch, with Acorn Woodpecker seen and Arizona heard. We did find a pair of Bell’s Vireos at the amphitheatre car park. They are a very pale vireo, overall quite grey, with barely demarcated spectacles, contrasting starkly with the deeper grey, more obviously patterned Plumbeous. Distant Swainson’s Thrushes were on the trail and in the car park.
 

About half a mile up from the Santa Rita Lodge is a rather attractive wooden lodge on the right hand side of the road, which we had thought was another gift shop harbouring more feeders. The latter was true, but the owner told us of a Flame-coloured Tanager which was to be found at times in the Madera Kubo surrounds. This is a collection of 4 holiday cabins set in the woods, and the Madera Kubo gift shop. The lady in the gift shop pointed us to the blue cabin next to a large boulder some metres along the road, which we found very easily. The first quarter of an hour there was lively, with 3 types of Vireos singing and calling (Warbling, Plumbeous, & Bell’s), Swainson’s Thrush and White-breasted Nuthatch. While we sat on the wall in front of the blue chalet, we spotted a dark flycatcher on the opposite side of road and behind a fence, which turned out to be a Black Phoebe. The unsuccessful search earlier around the Madera picnic site would have fitted the description of the site it was frequenting here, with a bridge over running water – the bird preferred the open perches just down from the bridge.

Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

As we continued our pilgrimage between the blue chalet and the gift shop, birds of varying species kept appearing. The 3 previous Vireos were upped to 4, with the addition of a very unexpected Red-eyed, a species which is seen with difficulty in the western states. Plumbeous Vireo proved very common, with more singing birds, and even one on a nest overhanging the road. We thought for a brief moment that we had found the Flame-coloured Tanager, but it proved to be a male Western Tanager, sporting the much paler yellow underparts, as compared with bright orange of the rarer species. In the same tree outside of the gift shop were Hooded Orioles and a lone Painted Redstart. For some reason, this location improved as the afternoon progressed, despite the clouds dispersing, the wind dropping, and the temperature rising. The Painted Redstart became bolder, and fed right in front of us, down to about 3 metres distant. A sortie back to the blue cabin finally pinpointed the Flame-coloured Tanager. Once seen, it isn’t hard to miss, with bright orange head and breast, spotted double white stripes in the wings, greyish ear coverts, and dark thick set bill. Returning yet again to the gift shop, we heard Canyon Wren singing, and thought that a long hike up the hill was needed to find it. Instead, we decided to try to improve on our Black Phoebe photos, which was still returning to the stream behind cabin #3. While there, we were pleasantly surprised when a pair of Canyon Wrens appeared in the cabin yard, initially on the back of a truck and apex of a shed roof. They were taking food to a nest in the adjacent cabin #4. They returned repeatedly, singing and perching on the shed, veranda, and truck in front of us for around 10-15 minutes before their silence set in. It was then that the lady who was hiring cabin #4 entered the scene and pointed out the nests of Cooper’s Hawk over cabin #3, which was vacant at the time, and Western Wood-peewee, sitting on the nest. A female Lazuli Bunting put in a brief appearance in the surrounding trees. The one job outstanding was to return to look for the Flame-coloured Tanager, since one of our party was yet to see it. Returning to the vicinity of the blue cabin and our earlier success, it was only a matter of about 5-10 minutes before it was relocated, this time with much more prolonged periods out in the open.

 

Plumbeous Vireo

Painted Redstart

Plumbeous Vireo

Painted Redstart

Western Wood-pewee

Canyon Wren

Western Wood-pewee

Canyon Wren

Cliff Swallow

Cliff Swallow

 

The day finished well. We checked into the Motel 6 in Nogales, which is just off junction 4 in Interstate 19 (definitely recommended at only $45 for a 4 person room). A quick dip in the swimming pool to shake out the Arizona dust also totted up an interesting pool list – the more interesting species included Phainopepla, House Finch, Cassin’s Kingbird, and Great-tailed Grackle seen from the water, and topping the bill single Barn and 3 Cliff Swallows drinking from the surface of the water on the wing while we were still half submerged (an even better reason to stay here). The hotel was used for two nights, and was not only cheap and cheerful, but also in a convenient location for the Patagonia sites.

 

Home

Paintings gallery

Video clips

Images

DVD

Contact

Site map

Links

Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Species list

Text only