The trip was fruitful despite unusual inclement weather. Blustering winds and snow made our birding interesting, but we still had 114 species for the trip. That is the average so we were pleased. Some of the species we were able to view include: Lazuli Bunting, Gila Woodpecker, and Anna’s Hummingbird, a cooperative flock of Pine Siskins, at Patagonia Lake we discovered several Common Loons with rafts of Common Mergansers along the lake.
In the Sulphur Springs Valley—we viewed numerous races of Red-tailed Hawks, Prairie Falcons, Golden Eagle, Bendire’s Thrasher, Pipits, Brewer’s, Lark, Song, Lincoln’s, Savannah and Vesper sparrows, too numerous to count. We were treated to a flock of Sandhill Cranes during our picnic lunch numbering in the thousands.
In the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area--the first designated Globally Important Bird Area and one of the Nature Conservancies 12 "Last Great Places on Earth", we perused the bird feeders at the BLM gift store to find Green-tailed and Abert’s Towhee along with Lesser Goldfinches. We headed to Fort Huachuca and Huachuca Canyon, a remote section of the mountain not birded until recently. The canyon provided us with Madrone trees laden with fruits and small flocks of gorging Hermit Thrushes. For dinner we headed East to a small mining town to celebrate the New Years dinner at Cafe Roka in Bisbee.
The last day we went exploring the Ramsey Canyon Preserve with great looks at Yellow–eyed Juncos, Arizona Woodpecker, Painted Redstart and Hepatic Tanager were provided. In the afternoon we followed up on a report of a Crissal Thrasher in a neighborhood along Ramsey Canyon Road. The bird was spotted, as well as a home-owner looking back at us from his kitchen window. A catered dinner was provided at the inn to finish up yet another successful annual New Years trip.
Upcoming Trips Winter/Spring 2011
This trip mimics the New Year's trip, but chances are the weather will be improved. With that improvement of the weather we should get 15% more species to include birds such as Elegant Trogon, Ferruginous Hawks and Mexican Spotted Owl.
Southeastern Arizona is truly a birder's paradise. The tremendous variety of habitat types and the geographic proximity to Mexico provide for a phenomenal diversity of avian species.
Most of the neotropical species go south in the winter, but many other species move in to winter, and a number of resident species are easy to find. Hawks, eagles, falcons, sparrows and other resident birds will be our focus for this long weekend. We will enjoy some of the fine food in Southeast Arizona. Our last day, we’ll have a meal prepared at the Inn by our fine French chef from Phoenix.
Feb. 25 - March 5, 2011
South Texas is a birder's paradise at anytime of the year, but especially during late winter when the spectacular array of resident birds in South Texas is joined by an abundance of wintering shorebirds and waterfowl. This eight night tour begins and ends in Corpus Christi with a leisurely swing through the birding hot spots of the lower Rio Grande Valley.
Photo opportunities will abound on this tour. Comfort is, as always a prime concern on our tours. We will stay in the best motels available and eat in the best restaurants in each area.
Our days will begin anywhere from 5:00 AM to 7:00 AM, depending upon the destination. On early days, we will have a continental breakfast. The following schedule may be modified to take advantage of rare bird sightings or other conditions that could affect the birding.
April 7 - 16, 2011
Colorado is the best place in the country for finding all the species of Prairie-chicken and Grouse. Its varied topography ranging from prairie grasslands through high plains to subalpine forests and alpine tundra supports as many as 500 species of birds. Furthermore, its geographical location astride the Continental Divide provides a mix of eastern, western, northern, and southwestern species not easily found together anywhere else.
Our trip will take us from the eastern prairies of Colorado into the high Rocky Mountains. We will cover about 1500 miles in searching for our target species. In order to see many of these species at their leks at dawn, we'll need to be up and out by 4 or 4:30 AM. We expect to find Greater and Lesser Prairie-Chicken; Greater and Gunnison's Sage-Grouse; Sharp-tailed and Blue Grouse and, possibly, White-tailed Ptarmigan. Other species of interest include Mountain Plover; Three-toed Woodpecker and Williamson's Sapsucker; Rough-legged Hawk; Black, Brown-capped, and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch; McCown's and Chestnut-Collared Longspur, and many others.
May 1 - 6, 2011
For the Dry Tortugas, we will be taking the very comfortable yacht, the R.V. Tiburon, to the Dry Tortugas, one of the premier sites in North America for spring migration. We spend more nights in the Tortugas because it is well worth the time. In addition, this increases our chances of experiencing a fallout, since there is usually a squall moving through every two or three days. Besides the numerous migrating passerines, we expect to see Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Noddy, Masked Booby, Brown Booby, Sooty Tern. Black Noddy, Red-footed Booby & White-tailed Tropicbird have also been seen some years. On our final day, we will leave the boat early and spend the day in Key West. We will seek out Mangrove Cuckoo and Antillean Nighthawk. Weíll also be looking for vagrants and rarities. Shiny Cowbird, La Sagraís Flycatcher, Greater Flamingo and Loggerhead Kingbird have been spotted in the Key West area in recent years. The last night will be in Key West.
For more information on any of these trips, please contact Wezil.