Tuesday July 31st, 2012: We started the day on Foothills Road near the Big Thicket, then visited the feeders at Quailway Cottage. We added two new species: Pyrrhuloxia and Tree Swallow. We spent some time chatting with John Yerger and Morgan Jackson, who run Quailway. John is a bird guide with Adventure Birding. Brian almost took a trip with them to Mexico this year.
We returned to the Portal Peak Lodge for breakfast, then drove to South Fork (of Cave Creek). Most of the group encountered the Mexican form of Brown Creeper. I missed them because I had gone back to the car for my scope. However, we saw more of this form of creeper later at Barfoot Park. We also heard a red-shafted Northern Flicker calling. I believe at least one person saw it.
|Chiricahua at Sunrise||Gates of the Chiricahuas|
We went over to the American Museum of Natural History's Southwest Research Station next. Birding was slow there. They did open the gift shop for us (normally closed on Tuesdays), and we got to see the new hotel-type accommodations. It's quite an improvement from the dorm-style accommodations I stayed in there in 1999.
At Herb Martyr Campground, we took the short trail to Little Dam, but found no new species. We took advantage of the picnic tables for lunch. Then we headed up the road to East Turkey Creek. This area was heavily hit by flooding, and we found the pipe from the old culvert some distance down the creek. It looks quite different than it did 6 years ago.
|View at Southwest Research Station|
We had planned to stop at Onion Saddle, but the area was heavily burned by last year's fire, so we continued up to Barfoot Junction. Somewhere in here we found a flock of Wild Turkeys. The road from Onion Saddle to Rustler Park has been greatly improved since I was here in 2006. Rustler Park was closed, partly due to the danger of falling trees and limbs. There were also few birds in the area before the gate. We went back to the junction, and up to Barfoot Park. The road here is not as good, but still better than it was in 2006, when it was brutal. Even though the Barfoot Lookout had been destroyed by last year's Horseshoe 2 fire, there were extensive unburned areas at Barfoot and we found a lot of birds here. Pygmy and White-breasted Nuthatches, and Brown Creepers were especially numerous. I rather aggressively went up the slope after an Apache Fox Squirrel in a tree to make sure it stayed in the trees long enough for everyone to see. A Mexican Chickadee was also glimpsed, but most of us didn't see it.
|Chiricahua View||Barfoot Park|
We found more birds along the road as we started our descent. This included Mexican Chickadee, now seen by all. We headed toward Paradise from Onion Saddle. Another group of roadside birds included a flock of about 20 (Lead-colored) Bushtits. We stopped at the George Walker House to visit the feeders. Here we added the expected Juniper Titmouse. Some sparrows were seen along the road, including Chipping Sparrow. We stopped at the last bridge to search for Black-chinned Sparrow, but did not find it. We did find Violet-green Swallow there.
After dinner we did a bit of owling at Stewart Campground. There were some Whiskered Screech-Owls there, one of which gave us a look when it came in to the tape.
We encountered 66 species today. Of them, 10 were new for the trip. Our trip total is now 138 species and mine is 136. We saw 1 new mammal species, making the trip total 9.
Portal Peak Lodge, Portal, AZ