On my second day off this week, I decided to head south to Tucson and bird with my great friend Roger Clark and his friend Linda. I haven’t seen Roger in a while, and it’s hard to believe we’re both now living in Arizona. I left Roundhouse at 4:50 a.m. and headed to Ina Road just northwest of Tucson. It took me right at 2 hours to get there, and I was on the recently reported, extremely rare Northern Jacana (pictured above) within 5 minutes. It was chilly – in the 40’s – but it didn’t deter the bird from foraging in the morning mist. Roger and Linda met me at this spot, enjoyed the bird with me, and led me to the next spot.
We stopped at Himmel Park in Tucson, where there had been 4 Ruddy Ground-Doves reported recently. I’ve tried for this species probably ten times or more over the years, which usually involved driving out into Red Rock or some other very remote agricultural area in the desert, and I’ve always dipped. We arrived and saw a locally rare Clay-colored Sparrow (pictured 2 images below), dozens of Lark Sparrows, and several Vermilion Flycatchers (pictured below). After about 30 minutes, three of the doves arrived. A picture of one is above.
From Himmel Park, we headed to Silverlake Park, where we found a rare-in-county Yellow-eyed Junco (below). This bird had been reported here for a number of days, and was just the second I remember ever seeing. I photographed one way up in Madera Canyon about ten years ago.
From there, we headed to the end of a road in an industrial park to begin a series of Classic Clark birding. The crappy pond below yielded a number of ducks, an Eared Grebe, and two locally rare Double-crested Cormorants. I also picked out a Rock Wren nearby.
From there, we drove south on 19 to Canoa Ranch (below) where we found Horned Lark, Lawrence’s Goldfinch, and a number of other species. I had been to Canoa once before when it first opened for birding, and it’s changed a bit. It has a wonderful port o let, replete with a sachet air freshener… it was really a pleasure to take a leak in it. I don’t think Roger knew that, though, when he told me to “take my time” as I was entering (not something one normally says to someone entering a portolet!).
As we were leaving Canoa, I noticed this Roadrunner in the parking lot. It looked like it snatched maybe a Black-throated Sparrow. Birds eating birds.
The pond at Canoa Ranch is above.
Next up was Amado Water Treatment Plant (above), where we scored more ducks (including a Redhead), and three Chestnut-collared Longspurs! A Ruddy Duck is below; they were fairly common in all the ponds we birded throughout the day.
Sam Lena Park was the next stop, back up in Tucson. There are some shitty ponds on the property, but we found a number of ducks, grebe, and night-herons. The best bird here was a locally rare Common Goldeneye.
The goldeneye is pictured below.
We made a few more stops in Tucson and Marana. We ended the day at 5 p.m. along the side of the road, where the fields had Merlin, Swainson’s Hawk, Pipit, Snipe, egrets, sparrows, and many others. All told, just over 90 Pima County species and 7 new Arizona state birds for me. It was great seeing Roger and meeting Linda. Already looking forward to getting back to Tucson and the Green Valley area.