Saturday, November 18, 2006

Northeast Tucson

Common fields
We began our birding trip in northeast Tucson by exploring the common fields of our leader’s housing development. The most prominent bird by far was the White-crowned Sparrow, but we also saw one or two Lincoln’s, Lark, and Brewer’s sparrows among the weeds. The shear numbers of White-crowned gave those of us who needed it an excellent opportunity to study the birds in all its forms, both juvenile and adult. Common birds, such as Great-tailed Grackle, House Finch, Rock Pigeon, and Mourning Dove were also plentiful. Raptors included American Kestrel, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and a beautiful Merlin identified by Sid. Other birds here included Cactus Wren, Common Raven, Gila Woodpecker, Abert’s Towhee, and Lesser Goldfinch.
Woodland Road
After a short break we traversed Woodland Road where we saw a gloriously-colored Vermillion Flycatcher and his mate flycatching from the trees. There were large groups of blackbirds which included Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Brewer’s Blackbirds, European Starlings, and Great-tailed Grackles. Quite a few Western Meadowlarks were also in the area. In a small brush pile someone spotted a Dark-eyed Junco of the Pink-sided variety. A Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Eurasian-collared Dove and Northern (red-shafted var.) Flicker were also seen along this road.
Marsh pond
From Woodland Road we entered our leader’s development to see what could be seen from one of the larger ponds. There were a number of American Coots, Mallards, and American Widgeon (which Danny identified quite nicely!). A Great-blue Heron, a Green Heron, and a female Belted Kingfisher spent time fishing the pond. Among the trees lining the pond we saw Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a pair of Red-naped Sapsuckers. However, the real action began when we went around to the back of the pond behind some trees and sat quietly. After a few minutes, the birds forgot our presence. We were rewarded by almost unheard of looks at a Marsh Wren as well as a Common Yellowthroat. Both birds were completely cooperative in showing themselves while drinking the water among the cattails. As we tired of them a Sora made a brief appearance before swimming back to the marshy netherlands.
We meant to stop for lunch when we were through with the pond, but were distracted by the flight of something in a bare tree. Sid said it acted suspiciously like a Lewis’ Woodpecker, so the whole troupe turned around and indeed we were rewarded with not one, but two Lewis’ Woodpeckers flycatching from the tops of the bare trees. We stayed for a while just soaking in the giss (general impression, size and shape) of the birds before heading off for lunch around another little pond. A Great-blue Heron, Great Egret and Green Heron also made their lunches in the pond.
Aqua Caliente Park
By this time it was getting pretty warm and some of us were tiring, but most of us made the short trip to Aqua Caliente Park. Sid, in his third spectacular ID of the day, found a roadrunner perched on top of the wash birm as he, Danny and I drove to the park. New birds seen here during our trip around the pond were Black Phoebe, Northern Harrier, Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Mockingbird, and Black-throated Grey Warbler.

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