Saturday July 28th, 2012: We loaded the vans a little before 6. While we did so, we noticed several birds around the hotel including Brown-crested Flycatcher. The only new species was a flyover Barn Swallow. We had breakfast at the Denny's next door, then headed back up I-19 to the turnoff for Lake Peñ Blanca.

Lake Peña Blanca is a bit off the highway, and bird activity was evident as we drove out there. We went to the boat ramp, where we quickly found Black Phoebe and Say's Phoebe. A scan of the lake produced a Pied-billed Grebe. Red-winged Blackbird was also noted as we looked for our target bird. It didn't take long before someone sighted it — Least Grebe.

We retraced our steps to Nogales, then took the turn toward Patagonia. Just before crossing the Santa Cruz river, we turned right toward Kino Springs. We made a roadside stop before visiting the clubhouse area. This produced several new species: Yellow-breasted Chat Yellow-billed Cuckoo (heard, but seen by the clubhouse) Common Ground-Dove (seen by me, and by more later), a Lazuli Bunting which I missed, Vermilion Flycatcher, and Lark Sparrow.

We continued to the clubhouse where we would obtain permission to visit the ponds. We noticed an immature Gray Hawk as we got out of the car. A Summer Tanager was found in one of the trees, as was a Song Sparrow. We got rather strung out as we started toward the pond. My group stopped to scope a (Palmer's) Curve-billed Thrasher on the wire, then a Bullock's Oriole. We called the rest back so they could see it too. The same area also yielded Common Yellowthroat (heard only) and Yellow Warblers. A Bronzed Cowbird made a brief appearance.

The main pond was not productive, but a wastewater treatment area contained a surprise American Wigeon. By now it was already past 10:30 and we had to move on.

We stopped at the famous Patagonia roadside rest stop where we added Rock Wren and Black Vulture. We got nice looks at a Western Wood-Pewee, but dipped on the Thick-billed Kingbird. Then we stopped in town for lunch.

Patagonia Rest Stop
Patagonia Rest Stop

After lunch, we visited the Paton's. I spotted a Violet-crowned Hummingbird as we walked up to the feeders. It reappeared several times while we were there. Some of today's other new birds also showed up at the Paton's.

We then walked along the road outside the Patagonia-Sonoita Preserve in search of a reported Thick-billed Kingbird. We did not find it, only more of the birds we were seeing elsewhere. It was threatening rain while we did this, and started to rain just as we were getting into the vans.

The heavens opened up as we made a rest stop in town. We waited for the worst to pass before starting our drive to Sierra Vista. Some of the group saw perched Swainson's Hawks on the way, the rest caught up at the motel where 3 passed by while we checked in.

We encountered 57 species today (56 for me). Of them, 25 were new for the trip (24 for me). Our trip total is now 110 species and mine is 107. We saw no new mammals, leaving the trip total at 8.

Best Western Mission Inn, Sierra Vista, AZ