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

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area - Part III

Las Cienegas also has a small population of Pronghorn wandering around its 25,000 acres. I have had great luck finding them and being able to get close for a photo. On one of my trips last week I found two Pronghorn a little too far for a great photo, but here it is nonetheless:


Monday, August 11, 2014

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area - Part II

Las Cienegas, with its varied habitats, also has varied wildlife. In additional to the Javelinas, there is a Prairie Dog Town with the endangered Black Tailed Prairie Dog. Once you find the site, you can return day after day watching these little guys. It's almost mesmerizing:

Black Tailed Prairie Dog

Black Tailed Prairie Dog

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area - Part I

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area is 25,000 acres of desert habitat. However, that doesn't fully describe the area very well. Parts of it are the typical scrub desert; parts are desert grasslands, parts are open prairie, there are a few small ponds, and there is a spring that holds water for about 100 yards creating a true riparian habitat.

Over the next couple of days I will show some photos I've taken the past week. For today, it's a Javelina. I was sitting quietly on a downed tree trunk in Empire Gulch waiting patiently for warblers, phoebes, waterthrushes, flycatchers, and anything else previously reported or not. While sitting there a Javelina came down to the spring, dug himself a "mud hole" and bathed in the mud for several minutes. Finally he stood up, shook off some of the water/mud, and slowly walked away and out of sight. I never moved an inch. He never saw me or even knew I was there. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge - Part V

I arrived at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge at dawn and the first thing I was compelled to do was take photos of the Sunrise:

Sunrise at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge

Sunrise at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge

Sunrise at Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge - Part IV

And a few other birds along the Green River complex at Seedskadee:

Yellow Headed Blackbird

Spotted Sandpiper


Northern Flicker