The 7 am start this morning put us right past daybreak at the Sabino Canyon recreation area in the Coronado National Forest. The group was limited to 12 participants and was led by Scott Wilbor who was feeling much better this week. Although I don’t know the area that well and really wasn’t paying all that much attention to where we were going, I believe we started up the main trail about a ¼ mile or so to the first rest area. Here is where we first got a glimpse of how good the day would be: Phainpepla, Morning Dove, Northern Mockingbird, Pyrrhuloxia*(finally! Since I missed the one in Austin a year and a half ago and one last week), Canyon Towee, Abert’s Towhee, Black-throated Sparrow, Curve-billed Thrasher and Red-winged Blackbird.
We then proceeded down to Bear Creek and walked along its banks crisscrossing the stream several times. We spent much of our time here as it was very good birding. Among the cottonwood and sycamore trees there were dozens of Ruby-crowned Kinglets including one pumped-up male who displayed his crown several times for us. Also saw Northern Cardinal, House Finch, Hermit Thrush, Orange-crowned Warbler, a beautiful Green Heron, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Cactus Wren, Bewick’s Wren, Rock Wren, House Wren, Hairy Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Black Phoebe, a very faded Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Raven, Verdin, several different species of Hummingbirds, probably Anna’s and Broad-tailed. In addition to these fine birds, we saw some really spectacular species, including several great views of a Prairie Falcon* both in flight and at rest, a Red-naped Sapsucker* that let me get close enough to take its picture (above and thanks to Ben for encouraging me to take my camera today!), a Black-throated Gray Warbler*, and an ARIZONA Woodpecker* (a truly rare and uncommon bird). At one point we could see all four from the same spot. Phenomenal!
How do you top something like that? Actually, you can’t. Reluctantly, we hiked up the trail toward the road. From there we connected with a smaller trail that led back to our starting point. Along the way we saw several more Phainopeplas, but it was all kind of anticlimactic, however, as you can see Sabino Canyon is certainly well-marked as one of Arizona’s Important Bird Areas