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S.E. ARIZONA - CROWN C RANCH - FIELD GUIDES
By Karl Lukens
Sunday August 17, 2003 - Leave Cape May at 4:30 AM and arrive at Philadelphia Airport at ~6:30 AM. Check in at 6:50 AM, no problems, get ham 'n egg sandwich and coffee for breakfast and wait for flight at 8:35 AM. Breakfast snack on plane and arrive at Houston at 10:35. Walk to the proper Gate for flight to Tucson at 12:30. Arrive Tucson 12:40 CST. Weather is clear, hot, with high clouds. Meet other tour folks (Jean & Shirley) at one of the baggage areas and wait for Megan to pick us up. Soon Donna and Linda show up, then Megan who goes off to another baggage area and finds Ann and Betty Ann. It is 2:00 PM and we are ready. Megan gets the van, we pack up, and are on our way to the Crown C Ranch which lies between Sonoita and Patagonia along route 82. We get our rooms, move in wash up, and are ready to bird at 4:30 PM. We go to Paton's Yard in Patagonia and bird until 6:00 PM. Nice first day of birding. Birds included Inca Dove, Broad-bill, Black-chinned, Rufous, and Violet-crowned Hummingbirds, as well as Thick-billed Kingbird, Lazuli Bunting, Gambel's Quail, and Ladder-backed and Acorn Woodpeckers. Back to the Ranch for Hors d'oeuvres, Beverage of choice (which turned out to be wine), and then a delicious chicken, peppers, potatoes, and green bean dinner prepared by Peggy and RP. Totals for the day 31 birds, Lifers-Judy 9, Karl 0.
Monday August 18, 2003- Up at 5:00 AM and bird around the ranch until 6:30-Kestrel, Prairie Falcon, Chipping Sparrow, and Lark Sparrows. Then a hearty breakfast of Orange juice, bacon, eggs, coffee. At 7:30 go to Patagonia Roadside Rest and immediately find nesting Cassin's Kingbirds. Later Thick-billed Kingbirds, Phainopepla, Bewick's Wren, Zone-tailed Hawk, and an unexpected treat -Common Black-Hawk. Could not find the Rose-throated Becard. Lunch at the ranch at 12:30 PM and enjoy a heavy monsoon rain with wind, lightning and hail. Relax for a while and then out birding again at 4:30 to the Sonoita Grasslands for sparrows. Found Botterie's, Cassin's, Grasshopper, and Rufous-crowned Sparrows. Also Loggerhead Shrike, and a small covey of Scaled Quail . Back for cocktails at 6:30 and dinner of Delicious beef tenderloin prepared by Peggy and RP. Off to bed at 9:45. Totals for the day - 61. Lifers - Judy 10, Karl 1 (the Common Black-Hawk).
Tuesday August 19, 2003- Again up at 5:00 AM, get coffee and bird around the ranch. Karl and Ann found what looked like two Lesser Nighthawks. Found one later with Megan but it looked different more like a Common Nighthawk. Then breakfast at 6:00 AM. Again choice of bacon, eggs, cereal, toast, etc. Nice way to start the day. Leave at 7:00 AM for Ash Canyon B&B (Mary Jo Ballator's place) for a chance to see the Plain-capped Starthroat. All kinds of hummingbird activity, Broad-billed, Magnificent, Black-chinned, Anna's, Rufous, and finally the Plain-capped Starthroat. Didn't get to photograph it, but got good looks. Before we left, a pair of Lucifer Hummingbirds came in and part of the group saw the male while others were looking at the female. Real nice! Also around the yard were noisy Mexican Jays, and a Black-headed Grosbeak. Then it was off to Madera Canyon where we found a small feeding flock including a calling Dusky-capped Flycatcher, a handsome Painted Redstart, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Hutton's and Plumbeous Vireos, and Western Tanager. Good hummers here too, including good looks at Magnificent and Blue-throated Hummongbirds. Next stop Garden Canyon for lunch, rather quiet - no Trogan. Sawmill Canyon also quiet. Back for cocktails at 6:00 and dinner (delicious grilled salmon) at 7:00. Totals for the day -60 Lifers Judy 12, Karl 1 (Starthroat).
Wednesday August 20, 2003- Start the morning before breakfast at the Patagonia Roadside rest. Again no Becard, but a nice Black Phoebe and Violet-crowned Hummingbird were seen. Then back to the ranch for RP's waffles and sausage. We then headed to Patagonia Lake State Park, where we found some nice ducks, including Black-bellied Whistling Duck. We also got 7-8 Neotropic Cormorants. Megan found 2 Northern Beardless-Tyrannulets with nice views of both, and also some Verdins, Inca Doves, and Curved-billed Thrashers. Judy, Jean and Shirley went back to the ranch while Karl, Linda, Ann, Bettyann, and Donna went down the rather steep trail to the area where the Black-capped Gnatcatcher had been hanging out. Found numerous Bell's Vireos, and Vermilion Flycatchers, Summer Tanager, and finally a fair view of the Black-capped Gnatcatcher. It flew off and could not be relocated. It was time to go back to the ranch (RP acme back with the van to pick us up) for lunch. After lunch and a monsoon rain we headed out again to bird Harshaw Canyon. Here we stopped several times and birded. Although we didn't find a Montezuma Quail we did connect with several Yellow-billed Cuckoos, a pair of Dusky-capped Flycatchers, great looks at a Sulfur-bellied Flycatcher (found by Karl), and a nice Hepatic Tanager. It was time to head back for cocktails and dinner (- a nice chicken entrée). Peggy finished off the dinner with a delicious Chocolate cake for Judy's birthday. Totals for the day - 60. Lifers Judy 4, Karl 0.
Thursday August 21, 2003- Again up at 5:00 AM, coffee 5:30, and bird the ranch. Breakfast at 6:30. Leave at 7- ish for River Rd. near Nogales where we found a calling Common Ground Dove sitting up in a leafless tree. Soon after we find a Varied Bunting on the other side of the road and it sits up nicely for all to see. Next a couple of Ash-throated Flycatchers come into view plus several handsome Black-throated Sparrows, and as we are leaving a Coopers Hawk flies by. Our next stop is the Rio Rico Pond area where Tropical Kingbirds have been reported. As soon as we park the van a Tropical Kingbird is spotted and we all get good views along with Western Kingbirds for comparison. Although there is very little water at the "ponds" a couple of Mallards show up and also 2 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, and a Solitary Sandpiper. Back in the van to travel to the Patagonia/Sonoita Creek Preserve. There we watched assorted hummingbirds at the visitor center as well as a Yellow-breasted Chat. We then walked the trail and found Lazuli Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Common Yellowthroat, and very nice views of Band-tailed Pigeons, one sitting on a bare snag. Also found along the trail were Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Flicker, Western Wood Pewee, Black Phoebe, Yellow Warbler, and several fleeting views of calling Gray Hawks. We then traveled back to the Ranch for lunch and relaxation. Afternoon birding consisted of a visit to Box Canyon and then on to Madera Canyon with a late picnic dinner at the top of Madera Canyon, while listening to Whiskered and Western Screech Owls and Whip-poor-wills. (Met Jimmy and Debbie Dowdell, friends from Cape May). Earlier, Box Canyon had produced several Scott's Orioles, as well as Rock and Canyon Wrens. Lower Madera produced Botteri's and Rufous-crowned Sparrows as well as a singing but unseen Rufous-winged Sparrow. As we were leaving lower Madera Canyonat the end of the evening, we had a Barn Owl fly across the road in front of the van. This prompted a stop and a courteous chat with a local gendarme who stopped to see if we needed assistance. Back to the ranch for a well needed rest. Totals for the day -81. Lifers Judy- 8, Karl -1(Band-tailed Pigeon)
Friday August 22, 2003- Usual good breakfast at the ranch and off to Fort Huachuca to visit Garden, Sheelite, and Sawmill Canyons, looking for Spotted Owl and Elegant Trogan. (Jean and Shirley took the day off to relax and bird the ranch area) Alas, no luck with the target birds, but a nice walk up Sheelite Canyon (Judy birded the area around the van knowing the canyon would be a little too strenuous for her to negotiate.). A small feeding flock of warblers, Black-throated Gray, Wilson's, Nashville Warblers, Painted Redstart, and a singing Cordilleran Flycatcher at the lower end of the canyon provided us with some activity. Further up the canyon we did find an Arizona Woodpecker. Fortunately earlier in Ft. Huachuca, on the way into the area before Gardener Canyon, Megan spotted a Montezuma Quail on the road side and stopped without scaring it off. We sat and watched it cross the road and wander in the brush along side the van. This is a tough bird to find and everyone enjoyed the sighting. The next stop was Carr Canyon, a zigzag drive up to 7000+ feet. We had nice views of the flat lands below. Ate lunch and found Yellow-eyed Junco, Steller's Jays, and a handsome, bright, male Hermit Warbler. It was now time to move on to Ramsey Canyon for a short walk. There we found a feeding flock of Painted Redstart, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, and a number of hummers including Magnificent, and Blue-throated. Impressed with the threatening weather, we the drove back to the ranch for evening cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and dinner. Peggy and RP set a nice spread with Mahi Mahi as the main course. Totals for the day - 55. Lifers Judy 4, Karl 2 (Montezuma Quail and Hermit Warbler)
Saturday August 23, 2003- Up at 5, coffee 5:30, breakfast, and off to Patagonia/Sonoita Road where we found several Bell's Vireos, Gila Woodpeckers, and Summer and Western Tanagers. Then we were off to the Roadside rest area but no Becard was to be found. We did find a nice Violet-crowned Hummingbird, which was nice to see in an environment away from feeders. Judy, Karl, and Ann stayed at the Rest looking for the Becard, while the others went to Paton's for another look at the great birds there. Then it was off to Blue Heaven Rd. for sparrows, etc. and found Ash-throated Flycatchers. We stopped for lunch at "The Grasslands", a restaurant in Sonoita that had fantastic desserts. Then over to Ramsey Canyon and a hike to the top looking for the Trogan. A Long tough hike and no Trogan! Another Sulfur-bellied Flycatcher, and a couple of Spotted Towhees were some consolation. We then headed to Miller Canyon and Beatty's B&B for the White-eared Hummingbird. From 7-8 PM we watched a feeding frenzy of what seemed like a hundred hummingbirds, including Blue-throated, Magnificent, Black-chinned, Broad-tailed, Rufous, a Calliope, Anna's and finally great close-up looks at the White-eared hummingbird. On the way home in a lighted parking lot Megan spotted 4 Lesser Nighthawks and we stopped for a short while to take in the sight. Arrived a little late at the ranch (8:15 PM) for the 8:00 O'Clock dinner of Sheppards Pie. Totals for the day -57, Lifers -Judy 2, Karl 0.
Sunday August 24, 2003- Up at 5:00 AM for the last morning and a trip to the airport. A before breakfast walk around the ranch with Megan produced some good birding. We found Kestrel, Cassin's Kingbird, Vermilion Flycatcher, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Botteri's and Lark Sparrows, as well as a Brewer's Sparrow. A nice ending to a great week. We went back to the ranch for another fine breakfast, packed up and drove to the airport. On the way we did run into a flock of Lark Buntings, adding another specie to the list.
Karl & Judy Extension
Sunday August 24, 2003 - Picked up an SUV (Nissan Xterra) at the airport, drove to the motel, checked in, arranged our gear, and headed to the Tucson Desert Museum. It was very hot but clear. Parked the car and immediately found a Cactus Wren in the parking lot, one of several in the area. Walked the trails and found more Cactus Wrens, a Pyrrhuloxia, and several Gila Woodpeckers. The exhibits were excellent. Left the museum and drove north to the Sweetwater Ponds. Here we found Ruddy Ducks, Coots, a Moorhen, Gambel's Quail, and a couple of Abert's Towhees. Then back to the Motel for dinner at an adjacent restaurant.
Monday, August 25, 2003- Continental breakfast at the motel at 5:45 AM, and after picking up lunch, ice and a cooler, we left at 6:30 for the Chiricahua Mountains and Pinery Canyon, Bar Park, and Rustler Park, 8000+ feet in the mountains. Birds were scarce at Bar Park and no sign of the Short-tailed Hawk seen there previously. We did meet Jimmy and Doyle Dowdell again and chatted for a while. We also found Pygmy Nuthatch, and Grace's and Olive Warblers. Jimmy recommended Rustler Park so we headed there. Found more Pygmy Nuthatches, Steller's Jays, Band-tailed Pigeons, and a Coopers Hawk. Also a nice meadow of blooming Larkspurs with numerous Black-chinned and Rufous hummingbirds feeding as well as several nice Townsend's Warblers. Decided to move on to Portal and use the main highway in New Mexico to Rte. 80 and Rte. 10 back to Willcox to finish up with shore birds. Unfortunately we were slowed down when we had to change a flat tire on the mountain road. Thanks to a gentleman "Cowboy" who gave us a hand. Some nice hummingbirds in Portal and then on to Willcox. At Willcox Pond there were hundreds of shore birds. Several Long- and Short- billed Dowichers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, 100's of Wilson's Phalarope, and at least 1 Red-necked Phalarope. Also Ring-billed Gull, and a Franklin's Gull. At 5:10 we headed back to Tucson to return the car which now had no working spare. Got new car, Ford Explorer, returned to the motel around 7:00 PM. Washed up, had martinis and went to dinner. Went to sleep listening to an evenong thunder storm.Totals for the day - 72. Lifers - Judy 2. Karl 0.
Tuesday August 26, 2003- Continental breakfast at 6:00 AM and left for California Gulch. Found Ariviaca, Ruby Rd. and road 217 with no trouble. The latter had many fords of small streams and the previous night's storms seemed to have filled them to overflowing. We finally reached a point where the stream was deep, wide and flowing, and I was not about to get stuck there. (Later I found on the Internet that someone got stuck there and had to be towed $$$). So, we made it within 2 miles if the Five-stripped Sparrow. We turned around and birded Ruby Rd. out to the Nogales area and back to Patagonia for another try at the Becard. On the way we picked up some Bushtits, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, and a Lucy's Warbler. A small monsoon at the rest stop gave us time for lunch and then we tried with no luck for the Becard. We decided to head for the motel to rest up before dinner. Unfortunately when we got to the motel another storm came through and the motel lost all power, no lights, no AC. Inquired and found a motel down the block with power and a resturant open. Had a nice dinner with Dos Equis XX on draft. Packed up, showered and to bed for the big ride home tomorrow. Total for the day 47. Lifers -Judy 1, Karl 0.
Wednesday August 27, 2003- Up at 5:30 AM, drive to Tucson Airport, drop off bags and Judy at Continental and turn in vehicle. Check in, eat breakfast of eggs and bacon, and off to Philadelphia. Arrive in Philly 5:45 PM, via Houston. Drive to Cape May stopping at Port of Call Restaurant for dinner and home by 9:30 PM.
Total for Field Guides Tour - 133
(138 by whole group)
Total for whole Trip - 166
Lifers - Judy - 55
Karl - 5