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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Rare bird search in Arizona - Part 4

Ramsey Canyon INN B&B
          We spent the night at the Ramsey Canyon Inn figuring that it would be adjacent to Carr Canyon where the Tufted Flycatcher was located. So, this morning our original plan was to move on to Fort Huachucha and bird in Hunter and Scheelite Canyons. Well, since we couldn't find the Tufted Flycatcher last evening our plans had to be alterqed in order to make another attempt at the flycatcher.
           The B&B offered a breakfast with our stay but we skipped that in order to get an early start up Carr Canyon to the campsite. Once again we climbed the rugged roadway to the summit, taking about 40 minutes in all. 
            This time when we arrived we were not alone. Several people were milling about in search of our quarry. Sharon started talking to an older gentleman named Lyn Hemlich. We found out he was from Fresno, CA a city we had recently visited on our way to northern California to visit Redwoods National Park. We found out that Lyn was an avid birder who travels to Arizona frequently. As we talked, he asked me what my life list was for the USA and I told him somewhere in the low 700's. So I asked him and he responded with 840. What? I was amazed and told him he must have been to Attu, Alaska. He said he was there during the miracle spring that all the Asian species showed up and was able to add dozens of life birds to his list.
Tufted Flycatcher
           As we were chatting two vans of birders pulled up into the campgrounds. It was the Tucson Audubon Festival this weekend and a group of them came here for the flycatcher. As Sharon and I were strolling around, our newly acquired friends, Ana and Jeff, were waving for us to come over to the Audubon group. They were looking at a Flycatcher that Lyn and I thought was the Tufted Flycatcher, however the trip leader was saying it was a Buff-breasted Flycatcher, which would be another life bird for me. I looked over at Lyn and I could tell he was thinking the same thing I was, that this bird is not a Buff-breasted but was indeed our target bird, the Tufted Flycatcher.
           After walking around for a while the group found another flycatcher and the leader identified it as a Tufted Flycatcher. After looking at my photos of this bird and the first one, we could tell it was the same bird. So Sharon and I were both happy to get a new ABA life bird, but not as thrilled as Lyn since it is getting really difficult for him to add a new species.
Tufted Flycatcher with very little tuft after molt - New Life Bird
             Afterwards we strolled around the campground for another half hour and were able to find a Zone-tailed Hawk, Anna's and Rufous Hummingbirds, Acorn Woodpecker, Mexican Jays, Cordilleran Flycatcher and Western Wood-Pewee. Also making an appearance were Hutton's Vireo, Bewick's and Rock Wrens, Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay, Painted Redstart, Grace's and Black-throated Gray Warblers and Greater Pewee, singing it's Jose Maria song.
Greater Pewee
Unknown insect - any ideas

Spreading  Fleabane
          On our mountain descent we spotted a Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) which is an American low-level airborne ground surveillance system that uses aerostats (moored balloons) as radar platforms.
Tethered Aerostat Radar Balloon
          After saying goodbye to Lyn, we descended the mountain and headed south to Ash Canyon, home of the Lucifer's Hummingbird. For a small charge of $5 you are invited to sit in this woman's yard and watch all the hummingbirds and other species come to her feeders. Curved-billed Thrasher was one of the first birds we added once we found a comfortable seat.

Broad-billed Hummingbird

Not a great photo of a Lucifer's Hummingbird-note decurved bill

Anna's Hummingbird

Gila Woodpecker
            Leaving Ash Canyon we drove north to Fort Huachuca Army base. After getting passes at the gate we went to the playground area, where on our last visit here, we saw the Sinaloa Wren, a Mexican rarity. This time, when I got out of the car it was so hot that I walked around for about a minute, got back in the car and left. That same thing happened when we stopped at San Pedro Riparian Area. 
           Since it was a scorching 107 degrees we just decided to drive on and get a little closer to tomorrow's destination, the Chiricahua National Monument. We would spend the night in Tombstone which is a neat little town where they have reenactments of the gunfight at the OK Corral. We got our motel and then went into town for dinner at "Big Nose Kate's Saloon". Big Nose Kate was Doc Holiday's girlfriend at that time.
Tombstone Arizona

Wyatt Earp doing the Boot Scootin' Boogie

Statue of Wyatt Earp

            So after dinner and dance we headed out to some back roads looking for Poorwills or Mexican Whip-poor-wills. We found neither, but did run across this guy.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake - tail on the left
                So we called it a night and headed back to the motel.

           See you tomorrow.

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