SE Arizona Birding, Day 4 – Chiricahuas to Willcox

This is the fourth posts in a series of posts about my recent birding trip to SE AZ (links to day 1, day 2, day 3). On July 31st, Mark, Chris, Anna and I woke up early and watched the hummingbird feeders outside of the George Walker House in Paradise, AZ. We really wanted to pick up Juniper Titmouse here, since that would be a lifer for Chris and Mark. We didn’t have to wait very long before one flew in to grab a few seeds, offering us some great views. Mark and Chris were also able to get their lifer Black-throated Gray Warbler and Blue-throated Hummingbird at the George Walker House. The hummingbird feeders here were loaded; no where else that we stopped had as many hummers as the George Walker House, it was insane.

Chris standing at one of the feeders at the George Walker House as a male Magnificent Hummingbird comes in to drink.

We left the George Walker House around 8:00am, because we wanted to get down the the Herb Martyr area early to try again for our nemesis bird of the trip, Buff-breasted Flycatcher. We searched all up and down this road, from the Southwestern Research Station to the dead end, with no success….looks like I will have to work on this species on a future southeast Arizona trip. We did however, find some other good birds such as a distant Zone-tailed Hawk and calling Northern Goshawks (an adult and two juveniles). Around 10:00am, we went to the Southwestern Research Station and were offered excellent views of many Blue-throated Hummingbirds as well as six other hummer species. A male Hooded Oriole was another nice sighting as well as Say’s Phoebes feeding their young.

Blue-throated Hummingbird - male

Blue-throated Hummingbird - female on nest

Rufous Hummingbird - male

Magnificent Hummingbird - male

Say's Phoebe

Next, we drove up towards the intersection of FR42 (the road towards Onion Saddle) and FR42B (the road towards Paradise) to search for Mexican Chickadees that had been reported there, which would be a lifer for Chris and Mark. There were already to birders there as we pulled up and we talked to them for a few minutes. They said they had hiked up the hillside there and had seen at least three chickadees with a flock of warblers and other birds. As I was talking to one guy, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a bear walking up to us. I yelled to everyone that there was a bear and we all were able to watch this probable one-year old Black Bear walk around and occasionally pick up some grass and eat it. The bear attempting twice to walk up to us, but we yelled at it and it would back away.

Young Black Bear

Young Black Bear

Mark, Anna, and I watching the Black Bear forage - photo by Chris Markiewicz

The two birders left, as did the bear, and the four of us walked around for a while listening and looking for chickadees; we didn’t find any. We then drove down to Dave Jasper’s house, where we had great looks at two Pyrrhuloxia’s before beginning our drive towards Willcox.

Pyrrhuloxia - adult

In Willcox, we visited Lake Cochise and the Willcox Golf Course. At the lake, I was blown away by the number of shorebirds present. I was very excited to see Stilt Sandpipers and Baird’s Sandpipers, two species I don’t get to see very often, coming from Pennsylvania. Other shorebirds present included Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Least and Western Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope, and Long-billed Dowitcher. At the Golf Course, we all got our lifer Scaled Quail, a nice adult male perched under a mesquite tree. Afterwards, we drove back to Tucson, where we got dinner and then drove up to Summerhaven to spend the night.

Black Tern at Lake Cochise