Saturday, September 30, 2006

Simpson Farm Habitat Restoration Site

The 6am meeting spot was frequented by a panhandler who was hoping (unsuccessfully) for a hamburger. Our leader today was Kendall Kroesen from the Tucson Audubon Society. Kendall led the way to our first stopping point were the society has helped Burrowing Owls retain habitat. We saw several owls sitting outside of holes and on the ground. The society built a few raised burrows that the owls seem to have taken to it nicely. At this spot, we also saw Eastern Meadowlark, American Kestrel, and Turkey Vulture.

We then proceeded to the farm area proper were we were almost immediately and briefly greeted by an Abert’s Towhee. The area around here was flooded during this summer's monsoons and was very overgrown with amaranth, however much of the ground was dry and cracked already. Brewer’s Sparrows* abounded here. There were either hundreds or the same flock of 20 or so birds that we kept flushing and pushing forward during the entire morning. It was great to be able to really get good looks at this little non-descript sparrow who is apparently a substitute for the Chipping Sparrow “back home”. We also saw Mourning Doves and turkey Vultures in abundance.

Special sightings included a few Green-tailed Towhees* that popped up to Kendalls pishing, a pair if blue-gray gnatcatchers, a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Red-tailed hawk, an Orange-crowned Warbler, and a White-winged Dove. We also had some very good looks at several Western Kingbirds* in the morning sunlight. My very favorite though was the Loggerhead Shrike who sat in a bare tree with a flock of Mourning Doves to survey the field below him. He allowed us to view him for a long time.

In addition to these, we saw Barn Swallows, Gila Woodpecker, Lesser Goldfinch, Song Sparrow, and White-crowned Sparrows (juvenile who didn’t quite have his song right as yet). Finally, on the way out of the parking lot, 5 vultures flew overhead. Two of them were Turkey Vultures, but the other three were Black Vultures. A good find here!

Time for a new Life List count…339. Not too shabby…up from 323 in May of this year without any big or focused trips :-)

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