Saturday, October 21, 2006

Upper Santa Cruz River Corridor (Rio Rico & de Anza National Historical Trail, Clarks Crossing)

It was just one more fabulous day here for being outside here in Tucson. The trip to the upper Santa Cruz corridor started at the same place as last week. I’m beginning to appreciate the value of a high clearance vehicle here. I rode with Roger, Danny and Sid in Roger’s new Kia Sorento. Again, the Celica would not have made the river crossing between Rio Rico and de Anza, but the Kia had no problems at all. It’s great birding vehicle.

Our first stop was in Rio Rico at the fields next to the road. We birded the pond and found a pair of Wood Ducks and a Belted Kingfisher among the many Mallards. We also saw a first-year and an adult male Vermillion Flycatcher, Kestrel, Laurence’s Goldfinch, Red-winged blackbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, and a few Black-bellied Whistling Ducks that were feeding along the berm of the pond.

We moved onto the de Anza trail system a few miles down the road, but it was already almost 9:30 until we got there and it seemed the birds had already settled for the morning. We walked the trail for quite a while. Our leader, Scott Wilbor who is an AZ IBA Conservation Biologist, told us of the multi-faceted conversation efforts all along the Santa Cruz river corridor. He was a surprised as we were when we found that the river had actually rerouted itself through a field which is quite a distance from its original route.

We did find one really good spot where some pishing brought out a great variety of birds, including Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bridled Titmouse*, Blue Grosbeak, and Nashville Warbler. We also saw an oriole sp. in the willows by the river, but were unable to further id it. On the way back to the vehicles, someone spotted an abandoned Gray Hawk nest. Looks like I’ll have to wait until next spring to add these guys to my list.

Afterward, Roger took us to the Amado water treatment pond where we were able to view Black-bellied Whistling Ducks with their young at a close range. We also saw a pair of American Coots, a pair of Ruddy Ducks, a Spotted Sandpiper, and Great-tailed Grackle here.

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