Tonto National Forest, Salton Sea, & Southeast Arizona
27 Apr - 10 May 2008
 by Henry Detwiler

Two fantastic weeks of traveling from the Salton Sea to Southeast Arizona with 14 Swedish birders turned up an awesome assortment of birds!  Browse these four web pages to look at some of the trip images and read a summary of our adventures.

268 species seen!  Click here for bird checklist.
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos. border  

THURSDAY, May 1, 2008

At Saguaro National Monument we turned up Gilded Flicker, Pyrrhuloxia, Black-throated Sparrow, and a number of Northern Cardinals.  Driving up the winding road to the top of Mt. Lemmon, we stopped at many birding spots on the way.  At General Hitchcock we watched Red-faced Warblers, Painted Redstarts, a Hermit Warbler, and our first or many Black-headed Grosbeaks. .

Red-faced Warbler
Red-faced Warbler

Yellow-eyed Junco
Yellow-eyed Junco

As we descended from the top of the mountain we battled the wind, but still managed to find a few Olive Warblers and our first Hairy Woodpeckers.


Yellow-eyed Juncos and Steller's Jays provided non-stop photo opportunities at the summit, and we were never out of earshot of the Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.

Steller's Jay  

FRIDAY, May 2, 2008

Cassin's Finch
Cassin's Finch

A pre-breakfast run to Agua Caliente Park gave us Brown-crested Flycatcher, and then it was south to Madera Canyon.  The Flame-colored Tanager put on a good show, and we added Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Bridled Titmouse, and a number of flycatchers.

Flame-colored Tanager
Flame-colored Tanager


Whiskered Screech-Owl
Whiskered Screech-Owl

Here we also found our first Cassin's Finches, a species usually absent this time of year.  The skink below was very bold, and even allowed me to pick it up.  Owling that night gave us Elf Owl, Western Screech-Owl, and this beautiful little Whiskered Screech-Owl.

Western Plains Skink - Madera Canyon

SATURDAY, May 3, 2008

Leaving Madera Canyon early on Saturday, we stopped at the edge of Florida Wash to enjoy good looks at Botteri's Sparrow. From there it was east and south over Box Canyon Road to Patagonia Lake State Park. 

Bullfrog at Patagonia Lake

Black-capped Gnatcatcher
Black-capped Gnatcatcher

Hiking the nature trail at the east end of the lake produced many bullfrogs, excellent looks at a family of Black-capped Gnatcatchers, hordes of Vermilion Flycatchers, Neotropic Cormorants, a few waterfowl stragglers, and a basic-plumaged Franklin's Gull.


Northern Beardless Tyrannulet
Northern Beardless Tyrannulet at the Paton's

Since we had heard a tyrannulet calling from the Paton's yard but hadn't seen it, we ventured off on a tyrannulet search.  We found it a little ways down the road, again getting stunning views of this tiny flycatcher.

At the famed Patagonia Roadside Rest Stop we ate lunch and saw two Thick-billed Kingbirds, but no becards.  At the Paton's we enjoyed watching the Violet-crowned Hummingbirds and this Dusky-capped Flycatcher that flew into the nearby tree for eye-level, arms-length views.

Dusky-capped Flycatcher at the Paton's

Our final stop for the day was at Kino Springs.  In and around the ponds across from the clubhouse we located two Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Green-winged & Cinnamon Teal, and a pair of Bronzed Cowbirds.

SUNDAY, May 4, 2008

On Sunday morning we headed west of Nogales to California Gulch. Good luck followed bad luck when a flat tire gave everyone a chance to see a flock of Montezuma Quail.

Teet and company in California Gulch

 Five-striped Sparrow
Five-striped Sparrow in the gulch

Approaching the gulch from the south end, we soon had our first Five-striped Sparrow.  Gray Hawk was another good bird there.


We returned to Nogales via Arivaca Cienega, getting more Cassin's Kingbirds, Dusky Flycatcher, a Yellow-breasted Chat and several dragonflies. Unfortunately, the Tropical Kingbirds weren't back yet.

Flame Skimmer - Arivaca Cienega

Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Tropical Kingbird
Tropical Kingbird

That evening we drove a few miles north to the Rio Rico Ponds, and saw a huge flock of 220 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, our first Tropical Kingbirds, and some beautiful Vermilion Flycatchers.

Female Vermilion Flycatcher

"Mexican" Mallards at Rio Rico Ponds

In the wet fields and ponds here, as well as throughout southeastern Arizona, we found the Mexican subspecies of the Mallard. Joining them in these fields were Lark Sparrows and Wilson's Phalaropes.


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