Monday, August 10, 2015

Birding the Tumacacori Mountains, Santa Cruz County, Arizona

A forrest road from Exit 29 on Interstate 19 takes you into the Tumacacori Mountains. This is a very primitive area: no facilities and no signs of human existence other than the "road." This is a 4x4 high clearance road only. I should add with an experienced off road driver as well, i.e. it is not for beginners. The road is mostly rocky. (I have a Jeep Rubicon with very good off-road tires).There are times when going up a hill you will not be able to see the road in front of you, and at the top not be able to see the road below. There will be times you will have to get out of your vehicle to check to see 1) which way the road goes, or 2) if the road is passable. (It could be washed out, full of water, or with a downed tree or boulder in the way.

As such, human traffic is significantly limited. And, as such has a significant amount of wildlife is present. On my trip in I saw black tailed jackrabbits, mountain cottontails, and deer. Javelina are also present though I didn't see any. There were thousands (or more) Butterflies. And, there is a report (unconfirmed) of at least one Black Jaguar living in the area. 

I went into this area looking for a Yellow Billed Cuckoo -- which I found but was unable to photograph. Also seen but not photographed was a Golden Eagle I startled. I did photograph a nesting Warbling Vireo, numerous male and female Northern Cardinals, Black Throated Sparrows, Rufous Crowned Sparrows, Lark Sparrows, Western Kingbirds, Brown Headed Cowbirds, and Varied Buntings. 

Here are a few photos:

Black Tailed Jackrabbit
Mountain Cottontail 
Northern Cardinal Male

Northern Cardinal Female

Warbling Vireo at her Nest

Varied Bunting

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