Thursday July 26th, 2012: We checked out of the hotel around 6 this morning. We got European Starling on the way to breakfast at McDonald's, and Great-tailed Grackle as we left. Then we headed up the Catalina Highway to Mt. Lemmon. Our first stop was the Molino Basin Campground. At the campground we found Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Bell's Vireo, Bewick's Wren, Scott's Oriole, Hooded Oriole, and a very nice perched Perched Cooper's Hawk.
We continued up the hill to the Bug Springs area in Bear Canyon. We birded up along the road and the back down to the car through the campground. We quickly found an Arizona Gray Squirrel. A number of birds were added here: Turkey Vulture and Acorn Woodpecker (always a favorite) along the road, then we went up the left side and found (Brown-throated) House Wren and Mexican Jay. All of the House Wrens I actually saw on this trip appeared to be the brown-throated form. A Western Bluebird zipped by me, but I think most didn't see it. We caught up with more of them at the top. We continued to add species with Yellow-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee, and Grace's Warbler. This was quickly followed by (Mexican) White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-throated Gray Warbler, and Bridled Titmouse. Then a Hutton's Vireo appeared. Some saw a Red-tailed Hawk, I got one much later on as we descended. A flock including Mountain Chickadees and Pygmy Nuthatches was very active. At some point I found a Painted Redstart by the side of the wash. Several Cliff Chipmunks were running about as we birded the area.
Somewhere in here the other van saw White-tailed Deer. The original plan was to go to Rose Canyon, but it did not seem promising enough to make it worth the additional fee, so we continued upward to Bear Wallow Road. This turned out to be a good spot. Besides reencounters with several species, we found our first American Robins of the trip, 5 or 6 Red-faced Warblers, a Hairy Woodpecker and a Cordilleran Flycatcher.
It was getting close to noon when we left Bear Wallow, so we continued on to the Iron Door restaurant at Ski Valley. I'd eaten there before, and expected an interesting and tasty lunch. I was not disappointed (nor was the group). We ate outside where they have several hummingbird feeders set up. Mostly, they were being visited by Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, but a Magnificent Hummingbird also put in a couple of appearances. At various times a Common Raven and one or more Steller's Jays sat in a nearby tree, probably hoping for a snack. Two of the group saw a Virginia's Warbler near the parking lot.
|Iron Door View|
After lunch, we continued up to the end of the road, near the Steward Observatory. Here we finally caught up with Olive Warbler. We first found a young bird we thought was an Olive Warbler. A little later we found an adult male. A bird we hoped was a Virginia's turned out to be an Orange-crowned Warbler. We also found several Brown Creepers. Based on the subspecies range given in BNA, these should be the Rocky Mountain form, which definitely occurs near Flagstaff, not the Mexican form which occurs in Cochise County.
|Beyond the Burned Forest|
Before leaving the top we added Pine Siskin and Red-breasted Nuthatch. Finally, it was time to leave Mt. Lemmon. We made a short stop at Windy Point on the way down, but were unable to find any new birds. Then we were off for Green Valley. We arrived at the hotel shortly after 5. We opted for an early dinner and planned to go up into Madera Canyon late in the day in search of night birds.
All but two of the group joined us on our search. As we were driving toward the canyon, a Lesser Nighthawk flew too close to Brian's van, and he was unable to avoid it. I think I almost collected one later, but hit the brakes just in time. We didn't have any luck with other night birds in the canyon, although a couple of birds told us that poorwills had be calling earlier. Eventually, we returned to the hotel.
We encountered 47 species today (46 for me). Of them, 37 were new for the trip. Our trip total is now 62 species and mine is 58. We also saw three new mammals, bringing the trip total to 6.
Best Western Green Valley, Green Valley, AZ