Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ramsey Canyon/ San Pedro House

Danny, Liz and I started the drive to Ramsey canyon at 5:30 am, but even after stop for coffee and bagels, we still arrived before the canyon preserve (owned by the Nature Conservancy) opened. So we did the only thing good birders know how to do. We parked illegally by the side of the road and birded the road leading up to the preserve. In addition to the typical MoDo’s and White-winged Doves, we saw Lesser Goldfinch, Bullock’s Oriole, Northern Mockingbird, Acorn Woodpecker, and Cassin’s Kingbird on this road.

Once we officially entered the park, we were warned of an active bee hive further up the trail. Since none of us truly wanted to get that close to the bees, we wandered very slowly up the trail. Beside which, it was already very hot at 8 am! Going slowly definitely had its benefits. We took the first side trail, called Grandview Loop and were treated to great looks at Western Wood Peewee, Bridled Titmouse, Mexican Jays, many Painted Redstarts, American Robin, and *Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher (thanks to Danny’s good spotting). As we sat on a nearby bench watching the Peewee, a group of Bushtits flew into the oak tree above us. They flitted noisily from branch to branch for awhile while we had our attention on a small group of White-tailed Deer on the opposite side of the trail. We counted six (5 adults and 1 young) in the group and none of them really seemed to care that we were so close.

Leaving the bench, we again walked up the main trail where Danny spotted a hummingbird on its nest. After much debate, we decided it was a female Black-chinned Hummingbird. We also found a pair of *Northern Beardless Tyrannulet (again thanks to Liz’s good spotting) and a small family of Spotted Towhees. We also traversed another short loop trail where we saw a pair of nesting Hermit Thrushes and more Painted Redstarts. Before leaving, we sat by the hummingbird feeders for awhile and saw Black-chinned, Broad-billed, Broad-tailed hummers.

We were lured into a Mexican restaurant in Sierra Vista by a multitude of cars in the parking lot. Once inside, we were even more heartened by the sight of many Mexicans, oddly enough mostly young women. It soon became apparent that there was a bridal or baby shower going on and there was almost no one else in the restaurant. However, the service was quick and the food satisfying enough. From there, we decided we still had enough energy to check out San Pedro house just a few miles away.

San Pedro house sits on a long thin green strip of land along a stream or river, called a “riparian area”, a term I had never heard of since there are no such things back east. The San Pedro House is an organization that focuses on preservation and education about the San Pedro River and riparian area. I’d been there briefly in November, but failed to see the targeted Green Kingfisher. On this day, however, we were greeted by several birders on and around the feeders, including a beautiful Blue Grosbeak, several Barn Swallows and a ton of Brown-headed Cowbirds. The sun was getting hotter and hotter, so we quickly walked the trail down into the riparian area and its cooling shade trees. A short way into the trees, we interrupted a Great-horned Owl’s rest. We only spotted him as he moved noiselessly from one tree to another. He allowed us really good looks and even returned our quizzical glazes. In this spot, we also found Vermillion Flycatcher, Western Tanager, and Summer Tanager, Abert’s Towhee. After this, we pretty much fizzled out and returned to the entrance. The feeders this time yielded a Say’s Phoebe and a marvelous specimen of Barn Swallow waiting by the storeroom door.

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