From: "Tom PRESTBY"
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2007 09:09:33 -0500
Sean Fitzgerald and I went on a birding trip to southern Arizona and Southern California for the past week. We flew into Tuscon on Saturday the 18th and rented a car and in the next week we worked our way through Arizona and California to the San Diego/ Orange County, CA area. It was a great trip in which we each saw dozens of life birds and many amazing places. The following are the day by day highlights.
Saturday, August 18
After getting the car in Tuscon we stopped at Sweetwater Wetlands/ Rogers Rd Pond but since it was the heat of the day things were slow. We went to Madera Canyon and birded there until dark. The feeders at the Santa Rita lodge had a lot of Broad-billled & Black-chinned Hummingbirds with a few female Magnificents. Other normal feeder birds such as Lesser Goldfinch, Bridled Titmouse, and White-winged Dove were abundant. A walk up the vault mine trail was pretty quiet but produced our first mixed warbler flock of the trip including over 15 Black-throated Grays and several Grace's Warblers and Painted Redstarts. As the temp dropped a little we headed down towards Proctor road where we found Sean's lifer Varied Buntings, Black-throated Sparrows, and a Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. Just down the road Cassin's and Botteri's Sparrows were singing and putting on a great show very close to the road.
Sunday, August 19
Dusky-capped Flycatchers (the only ones of the trip). Next stop was at the Ash Canyon B&B where we leisurely watched tons of feeding humingbirds including our lifer Lucifer and a Violet-crowned which was a lifer for Sean. Just up the road at Beattys feeders we had an astounding look at a male White-eared Hummingbird and many nice looks at Magnificent, female Blue-throated, and several others. The Patagonia roadside rest was rather quiet-- just a few YB Chats and Bell's Vireos calling, a Western Tanager in the trees and a Peregrine Falcon on the rock face. Kino Springs was much more productive-- we immediately found the family of Gray
Monday, August 20
Tuesday, August 21
We spent the whole day at the Salton Sea in the Imperial Valley of SE California. On the way to the sea we stopped on a small town and we found a few Inca Doves accompanied by Sean's life
burrowing owls lined the roadside ditches, and thousands of White-faced Ibis filled the wet fields for their morning feeding. The sheer volume of shorebirds was absolutely amazing, definitely a shock to the system of anybody used to shorebirding in Wisconsin. There were at least 6000 American Avocets, 4000 BN Stilts, 7000 Western Sandpipers, 800 Long-billed Curlews,
500 Marbled Godwits, 75 Willets, and large numbers of many more species. The shorebirds were not the only group that impressed, the waders put in a great showing as well with at least
Wednesday, August 22
We started the day at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve near Palm Springs. There were many feeders set up which attracted several new birds for us including Costa's Hummingbird, California Towhees and Nuttal's Woodpeckers. A walk around the preserve yielded many more new birds including California Thrasher and a family of Western Bluebirds. In the early afternoon we took the tram up to the top of the San Jacinto mtns. Unfortunately, a lot of the
area was closed because of a fire but we were still able to find a White-headed Woodpecker and a couple migrant Pacific-slope Flycatchers among other more common high elevation birds. Towards dusk we drove up the San Bernardino Mtns and stopped at a few pullouts along the way. At one stop a covey of quail which were almost certianly Mountain Quail managed to escape into dense brush without a good look but we did have a nice look at an Oak Titmouse. As we set up camp we were serenaded by a Common Poorwill and 2 Great-horned Owls.
Thursday, August 23
Another day spent in the San Bernardinos after a crisp low of 47 degrees. Highlights in our morning of birding in these mountains included excellent looks at 2 different coveys of Mountain Quail,
scrubby oak/chapparal habitat. The feeders were active with Oak Titmice, Spotted & California Towhees, and Dark-eyed (Oregon) Juncos. We walked the extensive trail system and had a great look at a pair of Wrentits, another covey of Mountain Quail, a California Thrasher, and many more common chapparal species. The last stop of the day was at San Jacinto Wildlife
area. We searched the many Red-winged and Brewers Blackbirds but could not find any Tricoloreds except for 2 birds that Sean saw flying in a flock of Red-wingeds while I was scoping something else. On the small auto tour we ran into a covey of 8 California Quail- a lifer for me and our only CA Quail of the whole trip!
Friday, August 24
We spent the day birding with David Vander Pluym and Leigh Johnson (see her blog post on our visit here) who live in the LA area. We started at Point La Jolla in San Diego where we conducted a 2 hour seawatch. We didnt see as many seabirds as we were hoping to but we had fairly nice looks at several Black-vented
more places in the San Diego area and picking up