Saturday, September 23, 2006

Tange Verde Ranch

Today I attended my first Tucson Audubon Society bird walk. I met the group and its leader, Bill Wieboldt, at the junction of Tange Verde and Catalina. We then traveled to the Tange Verde Ranch at the very end of Speedway. This is property that is usually reserved for private guests of the ranch, but Bill had special permission to bird there today. Although it would have probably seemed mundane to many Tucson area birders, I found a special thrill in birding the area because just about everything was new. Well, some birds, like the Northern cardinal, Mourning Dove, Barn Swallow, Turkey Vulture and House Finch weren’t new. Plus, I identified Northern Mockingbird while everyone else was trying to decide if it was a mocker or some sort of thrasher since I didn’t have all those confusing thrashers floating around in my bird bank.

The feeders in front of the ranch were filled with Lesser Goldfinch. They were very animated on the swirling feeder. I learned that the American Goldfinch that I saw so frequently at home is a rare winter time visitor to this part of the country and people had fond recollections of seeing them.

We saw lots of Gila Woodpeckers, so I’m starting to get them down pat. Also saw a beautiful pair of vermillion flycatchers. The male was just stunning in his orange and dark brown plumage. Also seen were Black Phoebe, Say’s Phoebe*, Black-headed Grosbeak*, Western Tanager*, Bewick’s Wren, Cactus Wren, Western Wood Peewee, Rufous-winged Sparrow* (which was a VERY good bird!), American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk and either a Abert’s or Canyon Towhee. A Bell’s Vireo was also heard.

After the walk a few of us diehards (Bill, Sharon, Arlene, Danny, and myself) stayed for lunch at the ranch. It was an excellent buffet with salad, entrees, breads and more desserts than any of us could eat. All in all a good start to birding in AZ.

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