Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tucson and Santa Cruz Flats Birding

February 16th, 2010: Tucson Birding
Hi everyone,

Well today I finally stepped foot out of Maricopa County for a half day
trip to Tucson areas.  I chased several of the local rarities and then
went to Sweetwater Wetlands and stopped by Santa Cruz Flats on my way back.

My first stop was at Ridgeway and Seneca St. to look for the SHORT-TAILED
HAWK, and right when I got there, the bird landed in the pine tree around
7.40.  He didn't stay long at all this time, and he faced a direction to
the side where his breast didn't show well, in which I couldn't get the
pictures I wanted of the bird.  But at least I got to see it!  I tried to
go to a different angle while he was perched there to get a better view,
and during that amount of time, he flew away and I missed that too!

Short-tailed Hawk

My second stop was at McCormick Park, to look for the RED-BREASTED 
SAPSUCKER, and I got extremely lucky and found this bird in more of the 
northwest corner of the park, in a medium-sized pine tree.  I heard it 
pecking lightly on the wood and I'm lucky I even heard it.  The bird then 
reveiled itself and I got amazing close up looks.  It flew around to 
several trees at near this pine tree before I lost it, and chased away 
several Gila Woodpeckers it didn't like having around.  A very vocal male 
VERMILION FLYCATCHER was also a nice treat here.

Red-breasted Sapsucker

Vermilion Flycatcher

Sweetwater Wetlands was next, which was more quiet.  I recorded 47 species 
in about 2 hours, but that is probably due to the fact it was later in the 
morning.  Highlights included a pair of COMMON GOLDENEYE flying overhead, 
BUFFLEHEADS, SORA, YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRDS, and most interestingly to me, 
3 LEAST SANDPIPERS in the small pond (bath) at the entrance gate.  Has 
anyone else ever seen them at this spot?  I found it unusual.

My stop at the Santa Cruz Flats was pointless on my way home.  I missed 
all my targets, and I was confused with the area because this was my first 
visit to the location, it was way more extensive than I thought.  I know 
where the Caracaras are seen most of the time, I made it there, and I 
couldn't even pull up one bird.  Maybe next time!

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