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  

MONDAY, May 5, 2008

black-bellied whistling duck
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

The hike up to see the Spotted Owls was beautiful, but the owls were hiding in the upper roost, so we missed them. The lizards and butterflies put on a good show, and we got fine looks at Yarrow's Spiny Lizard and California Sister.

Our first stop was once again the Rio Rico Ponds, to give everyone a chance at the Tropical Kingbirds. While we watched the kingbirds the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks watched us. On the road to Ft. Huachuca we added Swainson's Hawk, and then we drove up Garden Canyon. 

California Sister

Yarrow's Spiny Lizard

Yarrow's Spiny Lizard
Yarrow's Spiny Lizard

At Sawmill Canyon we ate our lunch and studied this active Greater Pewee in addition to a pair of Buff-breasted Flycatchers.  On the way back down we continued to listen in vain for Elegant Trogon--we wouldn't be seeing them until we finally arrived at Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiricahuas. However, we did see Hutton's & Plumbeous Vireos, Bushtits, White-breasted Nuthatch, and a number of migrant warblers.

greater pewee
Greater Pewee


After lunch we headed to Mary Jo Ballator's B&B, and were treated to an array of beautiful hummingbirds, thrushes, jays, grosbeaks, finches, woodpeckers, sparrows, and orioles.

Lucifer Hummingbird
Male Lucifer Hummingbird at Mary Jo's

Mexican Jay at Mary Jo's

Top billing among the hummers was this male Lucifer Hummingbird and two females.  No less beautiful were the many Broad-billed, Anna's, Black-chinned, Broad-tailed, and Magnificent. 

Behind Mary Jo's house is an expansive seed & suet feeding station.  Male and female Cassin's Finches, numerous Black-headed and a pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, a Green-tailed Towhee, a flock of Lark Sparrows, hordes of Pine Siskins and Lesser Goldfinches, Lazuli Buntings, and Ladder-backed & Gila Woodpeckers were all enjoying the easy pickin's.

Male Cassin's Finch at Mary Jo's

eastern bluebird 
Eastern Bluebird
Just outside of Mary Jo's yard, several Eastern Bluebirds were flying about and perching on the neighbor's fence.  We'd seen plenty of Western Bluebirds in the mountains, so it was great to see this eastern cousin.

TUESDAY, May 6, 2008

Not fifteen minutes outside of Sierra Vista, the San Pedro River cuts a riparian corridor from south to north.  We hiked along it under the towering Cottonwood canopy on Tuesday morning, spotting many flycatchers, Yellow-breasted Chats, warblers, and Summer Tanagers.

Ann, Ingrid, Anders, Douglas, & Anders
San Pedro River

Berylline Hummingbird
Ramsey Canyon B&B

Since the Sierra Vista sewage works turned out to be a bust, we decided to try Ramsey Canyon in the late morning hours.  It was a serendipitous choice, since Stefan, Anders, and Pia located this first-of-season Berylline Hummingbird in the B&B next to the preserve headquarters.  We couldn't settle on it's sex, but did note that it was a banded bird.  Later I found out that the original banders couldn't tell what sex it was either!

After lunch we drove up Miller Canyon to visit the Beatty's orchards and feeding stations.  It was a good day for hummers, since the first White-eared Hummingbird of the season had just been spotted that morning.  A short wait yielded this handsome male.  Here, too, Black-headed Grosbeaks were common.

Black-headed Grosbeak

white-eared hummingbird
White-eared Hummingbird

Tom Beatty has a wonderful feeding station on the side of an oak-forest hillside, and over the years almost every possible Arizona hummingbird has shown up.  On this afternoon we also saw Calliope, Magnificent, Blue-throated, Broad-tailed, and Black-chinned Hummingbirds.

Heading back to the vehicles, we stopped to look at a Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake that a young fellow had spotted.  It was a very docile snake and allowed us to take a number of photos.

magnificent hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird at Beatty's

sonoran mountain kingsnake
Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake - Miller Canyon

sonoran mountain kingsnake
Sonoran Mountain Kingsnake


Hereford Bridge
As evening approached, we made a final stop along the San Pedro River at the Hereford Bridge.  Teet called out a Crissal Thrasher, we watched another pair of Brown-crested Flycatchers, and we flushed Wilson's Warblers and Song Sparrows in the bushes lining the river channel.

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