Saturday, August 11, 2007

Mount Lemmon

Liz and I spent a fine day of birding at various spots along the Catalina Highway on Mount Lemmon. We started out with a quick spot at Le Buzz for a caffeine fix and then headed up the mountain with two finely detailed lists from the listserv. We first stopped at Bear Canyon where we found Yellow-eyed Junco, Painted Redstart, Western Wood Peewee, Acorn Woodpecker, Black-headed Grosbeak, Abert’s Towhee, American Robin, Cassin’s Vireo, and White-breasted Nuthatch.

We stopped along the highway to try to identify an accipiter sp., but no such luck! It flew straight away from us too quickly, so we traveled to the General Hitchcock’s campground area. Here is was eerily quiet for a long time. There were lots of campers making human noises, but not much bird activity. The only birds we found were more yellow-eyed Juncos and a lone female Hairy Woodpecker which we watched for a while, but eventually we decided to move on. .However, also as soon as we made that decision, a mixed flock of warblers fluttered in to give us great looks at Painted Redstarts, Red-faced, Wilson’s, Black-throated Gray, and *Grace’s. There were so many painted Redstarts in this group that started to tire of them. Surely we here in southeastern Arizona are spoiled! The Wilson’s stuck around for great looks and having the Redstarts and Red-faces in one’s bins at the same time was awesome. We also saw a female Western Tanager, Hermit Thrush, Bewick’s Wren, and Cassin’s Vireo.

A little further up the road we headed toward Mount Bigelow. We drove the entire loop to Bear Wallow picnic area and back. This area was even more quiet then Hitchcock’s. The only birds here were Yellow-eyed Juncos (we had started calling them not-very-nice names by this point) and a single male Hairy Woodpecker.

As it was noon and we were starving, OK I was starving, we stopped at the Summerhaven Pizza and Cookie shoppe for a few slices, a soda and a monsterous chocolate chip cookie. We saw several hummers at the feeders above the shoppe and also Stellar’s Jays and more Turkey Vultures while we waited for our food. I should mention that the weather on Mount Lemmon was wonderfully crisp and almost cool enough for a jacket. I’d say it had to be in the 70’s.

After lunch we made the side trip to Ski Valley and checked out the view. Not too much going on there, but we did see Broad-tailed hummers at the Iron Door restaurant’s feeders. Feeling somewhat disheartened as the birding seemed to be drying up, not to mention the carb coma that was hitting us, we almost had to force ourselves to ascend the top of Mount Lemmon even though it’s a short drive from Ski Valley. However, we were soon glad we did as the bird gods smiled on us once again. This time in the form of a wonderful mixed flock consisting of Mountain Chickadees (my closest looks ever), all three nuthatches (white-breasted, red-breasted, and pygmy), Orange-crowned Warbler, *Hermit Warbler, *Cordilleran Flycatcher, Lesser Goldfinch, House Wren, Brown Creeper and let’s not forget the numberous Yellow-eyed Juncos!

Today’s great total is 30 species and 3 lifers in 8 hours of birding! The bird gods are smiling :-)

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