Monday, February 20, 2012

BiF! AZ Road Trip Recap

Broad-billed Hummingbird - Paton's Yard - Patagonia, AZ
How many colors and shades of colors do you see on this bird?! Just beautiful!

Work took me to Phoenix, Arizona last week, and I was able to take advantage of the weekend to meet up with fellowing "Birding is Fun!" contributors Laurence Butler, and Jeremy Medina, along with Jeremy's friend (now our friend too!) and new birder Geniece for a BiF! AZ Road Trip. Geniece brought all the requisite new birder luck, or new birder mojo as we like to call it. We made a full day of birding from sunrise to sunset visiting fantastic southeastern Arizona birding hotspots. Every stop brought new species to our day list. During my four day trip I saw 117 species! Six life birds! Added 13 birds to my Arizona state list! And I got reacquainted with many birds I only had previously seen once or twice when I lived in Arizona several years ago. Laurence added more than a dozen life birds and Geniece added dozens of life birds. There's nothing like celebrating life birds with other birders to reinvigorate that birding spirit.

Visit Laurence's and Jeremy's blogs for their report and much better photos from the BiF! AZ Road Trip.  Jeremy was a fantastic tour guide. He could be a high paid birding tour leader for southeastern Arizona. He knows the hotspots and the birds very well!

Saturday morning, an hour before sunrise, we departed for Florida (pronounce as in Spanish, flow-REE-thuh) Canyon, south of Tucson to chase the Rufous-capped Warblers reported by several others for some time now. We got some great up-close views. At one point I thought one of these gorgeous little warblers was going to kiss me on the nose.  Unfortunately my camera settings were messed up and I didn't get them straight until later in the trip. These super-cool looking warblers are a Central American specialty that have occasionally been seen in AZ, NM, and TX, but with apparently greater frequency in the last few years. (eBird sightings map)

The Least Grebe is another bird belonging to regions south of the U.S. border, but has been seen with increasing frequency in the states.
Friday evening, Laurence and I drove from Phoenix to Tucson, but took the scenic route in the country roads near Picacho Peak. There he and I both enjoyed our first ever sightings of Lark Buntings. Seeing our first life bird right out of the gate was positive omen portending great things to come!

Anna's Hummingbird - Paton's Yard - Patagonia, AZ
Flycatcher ID help please!
Good ol' Gila Woodpeckers were abundant ever where we went. At Paton's there was one sipping from a hummingbird feeder with the cool red thumb print on its crown.
Black Phoebe at Pena Blanca.
Black Vultures were a surprise, though they had been recently reported in SE AZ. This is the first time I have seen them in the western half of the continent.
White-breasted Nuthatch at Paton's.
Pyrrholuxia at Paton's. Not a quality photo, but good enough for my personal photo-documentation.
Violet-crowned Hummingbird - the Paton Yard specialty species
By the way, Jeremy submitted all of our sightings to eBird and shared them with all of us. Jeremy and eBird are awesome like that! I have a couple more posts coming up with more of our adventures in Arizona, so please stay tuned to "Birding Is Fun!", oh, and don't forget to visit Jeremy's and Laurence's blogs for more about our trip!


  1. Thank you very much for your pleasant comment. We also like the photos of your blog.
    Have a good day

  2. Jeremy and EBird are awesome, though EBird still seems sort of temperamental. I hope your work finds more reaosns to send you down to AZ Robert. It was a great weekend.

  3. Sounds like an awesome long weekend! I love birding in Arizona and can't wait to get back there soon!

  4. Wow, you all had great views of so many birds, I feel like I was there with you from all the lovley photos!

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  6. Robert, wow, wow, wow! jealous, jealous, jealous! I used to see lark buntings every year in Sycamore Canyon when I lived there. I have never seen a least grebe however! I DID get to the see the Rufous-capped warbler in Florida canyon with Jeff and Dawn fine when I lived there. I cannot wait to read and see more!

  7. What a wonderful birding weekend. I love birding in Arizona. Wish I'd been there with you!

  8. Thanks all! It was an awesome weekend. I've got some more posts about the weekend coming up with even better photos. Awesome birds seen with awesome birding friends!

  9. A wonderful post and some very beautiful pictures. Great work!

  10. Sounds and looks like you and friends had a glorious day of birding. Love the Rufous-capped Warbler! I have never seen one of these beauties before. Wonderful photographs of many of the birds you saw on your excursion! I hope to one day see both an Anna's Hummingbird and a Violet-crowned Hummingbird. We only see Ruby-crowned hummers here in Chicago. Terrific post!