Saturday, August 30, 2014

Las Cienegas Revisited

I've been busy working on my new book: "A Photographic Journey to Finding Birds in Southern Arizona." So, I've been remiss in getting posts out. To catch up, today another trip to Empire Gulch in Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. I've been trying to get as many of the warblers as I can in preparation for the book. I've got 18 of the 22 warblers found in Southern Arizona. Here are a few from my latest trip to Empire Gulch:

Black and White Warbler

Wilson's Warbler

Lucy's Warbler

MacGillivray's Warbler

Saturday, August 23, 2014

I got away yesterday and hit San Pedro River, Ash Canyon B&B, and Huachuca Canyon. 

The monsoon rains had pretty much created a muddy, buggy mess at San Pedro. I used a lot of bug spray but still a bit distracting when dozens of mosquitos are constantly flying in your face. I did the walk up and down the river where I could, then walked along the old dirt road. Nothing unusual to report. Got some photos of Tropical and Cassin's Kingbirds, Vermillion Flycatcher, Lark Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Lesser Goldfinch, Common Ground Dove, and a nice Sharp Shinned Hawk.

Then decided to check out Ash Canyon B&B which I haven't been to this year. This was decidedly the best of the day. Lots of visits from male and female Lucifers -- as seen below.

Finally, went to Huachuca Canyon, but by the time I got there it was very overcast -- dark and ominous clouds and few birds to be seen and terrible lighting for a good photo anyway.

So, photos from Ash Canyon B&B: 

Male Lucifer

Female Lucifer

Male and Female Lucifer

Female Rufous

Female Rufous

Female Rufous

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sweetwater Wetlands

I spent the morning (before the monsoon rains started pummeling the area) at Sweetwater Wetlands. 

Sweetwater Wetlands is a water treatment facility run by the City of Tucson. It is also a wildlife habitat and outdoor classroom. It consists of serveral "ponds" and recharge basins.

Sweetwater has more than 2.5 miles of pathways through and around the ponds. Access to the large recharge basins is restricted so a scope is necessary for viewing birds in the basins.

It is the best birding spot in the city of Tucson, getting a wide variety of waterbirds, songbirds, flycatchers, woodpeckers, and raptors. I photographed my first Bobcat there as well.

It is an excellent place to look for the more "secretive" waterbirds: Virginia Rail, Sora, and Common Yellowthroat, that stay in the weed beds most of the time.

Sweetwater is probably the best place in Southern Arizona to find the Common Moorhen.


This is a "must visit" location for birders. 

During my three hours there I found: Great Blue Heron, Black Crowned Night Heron, and Green Heron; Great Egret and Snowy Egret; Double Crested Cormorants; Common Moorhens; and some of the more common ducks, songbirds, woodpeckers, and raptors. I also found but did not get good photos of a Sora. 

Today, I'll share with you some Green Heron photos I took this morning:








Monday, August 18, 2014

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area - Part VII

The last of the habitats at Las Cienegas is the grasslands. There were lots of sparrows, including: Bairds, Grasshopper, and Botteri's; (probably Sage and Brewer's as well). None of those photos were good enough to display, so I'll give it another try as soon as I can get out.


Loggerhead Shrike

Lark Bunting

Cassin's Kingbird
Western Kingbird

Swainson's Hawk harassing a Red Tailed Hawk


Friday, August 15, 2014

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area - Part VI

The "visitor's center" where the old ranch house was is also located along Empire Gulch, but a quarter mile up from the spring. Lots of very old, very big cottonwood trees as well as mesquites create a haven for song birds. Here are a few photos from last week:

Willow Flycatcher

Black Throated Sparrow

Hutton's Vireo

White Crowned Sparrow

Common Yellowthroat

Pacific Slope Flycatcher

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area - Part V

As I mentioned there are several different habitats within the 25,000 acres of Las Cienegas. One such is Empire Gulch. Most of the Gulch is dry except for heavy rains. However, there is a spring that flows year round that creates a riparian area for about 100 yards. This past week I birded the spring had photographed the following:

Blue Grosbeak

Wilson's Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Black Phoebe

Female Summer Tanager

Yellow Breasted Chat

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area - Part IV

Wilderness areas often provide an unexpected photo. While not unusual for there to be snakes at Las Cienegas, it is unusual to come across one. This Sonoran Bull Snake was crossing the Discovery Trail as I was passing by:

Sonoran Bull Snake