Last edited Wed Sep 12, 2012, 02:21 PM - Edit history (2)
Late last month I drove from my home in Florida to southeastern Arizona and Southern California for a few weeks of birding and visiting my family in San Diego.
In San Diego I met up with a friend and we headed out for a quick three days in southeastern Arizona. We started at Madera Canyon, which is a few dozen miles south of Tucson, for the first of two hikes up a couple of trails (Super Trail - which starts from the top of the road in Madera Canyon, and then Kent Springs Trail - which starts from Bog Spring Campground).
The following montage is a sample of some of the birds and other critters we had on the two hikes. Going clockwise starting from the upper left: Scarlet Tanager (a rare bird for Arizona that is summered there), Yarrow Spiny Lizard, Graces Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Plumbeous Vireo, Hepatic Tanager, Brown Creeper, and Red-faced Warbler:
After our hike we headed southwest almost to the Mexican border hoping to reach California Gulch for the localized Five-stripe Sparrow. Unfortunately this is when I discover my friends vehicle had very old tires. He had a flat. We had to quickly get to a tire shop before they closed. Well try again tomorrow for the Five-stripe Sparrow. About an hour after getting a replacement tire my friend had a second flat!
The next morning we visited lower elevation areas in and around Madera Canyon, including nearby Montosa Canyon. Going clockwise starting from the upper left: Black-chinned Hummingbird, tarantula, Gray Fox, American Black Bear, Rufous-winged Sparrow, Botteris Sparrow, Varied Bunting, and Lesser Nighthawk in the center:
After he replaced the rest of his tires we tried again for the Five-striped Sparrow. The monsoon summer rains have been good this year in southeastern Arizona, and we saw ominous clouds where we were going. This was our last chance for the Five-striped Sparrow so we went anyways bad idea.
It started raining hard when we were on a dirt road (Ruby Road) and the water started rushing across the road at spots. At this time we turned back east too late. We were trapped by a flash flood and we soon found out (from another trapped motorist) that Ruby Road was washed out on the west side. Fortunately, after a couple of hours of listening to my very unhappy friend, the waters receded and we headed east out of the area.
The next day, after doing our second hike above Madera Canyon, we headed to Miller Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains. We visited Beattys Guest Ranch http://www.beattysguestranch.com/ where we saw nine species of hummingbirds and a Spotted Owl that is regularly found nearby.
Going clockwise starting from the upper left: Broad-billed Hummingbird, Spotted Owl, Blue-throated Hummingbird, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, and White-eared Hummingbird:
After this we drove back to San Diego.
I recently got back home from San Diego.
Twenty years ago, when I was a new birder, I smashed the catalytic converter on my Toyota Tercel after I made a wrong turn. I still made it all the way to California Gulch in that car - twice. I won't try it in my Corolla.
and gotten a cracked axle in the mountains of Southern California, but California Gulch? No way.
Camera: Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 300mm f/4.0 with 1.4x Canon extension
The camera can do 8 frames per second continuous shooting, which helps me get the shot. My camera is really loud which is the one major drawback.
I see from the other post that you got the Spotted Owl and Black-capped Gnatcatcher. I still don't have the Black-capped Gnatcatcher. Next time I'm in Arizona I'll take more effort to find that bird.
If you have never birded there, it is well worth it, even without the Gnatcatcher
I missed a bunch of those birds when I was in SE Arizona, but it was in the fall about four years ago, after a lot of the migrants and vagrants were gone. I did get a rare for the region Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the Paton's house. I missed your Hepatic Tanager, Red-faced Warbler, and Sulphur-bellied flycatcher, unfortunately. for non-birds, I did see a bobcat in Madera Canyon-a big highlight of the trip.
Fall may be the worst time to visit Arizona. It can be a little slow from the little experience I have.
After the monsoon rains have started, usually in early July, through mid August might be the best time to visit. Winter is also nice for a different variety of birds.