We parked at Carr Canyon and took a long hike of about nearly three miles on a trail until it met up with Ramsey Canyon. We thought this route would be easier than just going up Ramsey Canyon, but it wasn't. The choice was not regretted in any way, shape, or form, however as the hike was filled with birds and epic scenery. There was a bad fire around Carr Canyon some time ago, and some of the results of the fire have really shown there can be beauty from ashes. Look at that green up there!
I wasn't too focused on photography during this trip, so the main focal point of the story will be accessed right now. The Tufted Flycatcher! Once we made it down from the trail, we accessed Ramsey Canyon. A beautiful stream flowed through the canyon when we got to this spot, and I found myself looking for Spotted Owls and telling others to look for Spotted Owls because the habitat was perfect for them. We soon came up upon a crowd of birders, with Andrew Core and Bryan Holliday being some of them. The four of us joined up with Andrew and started to listen for the bird. Luckily, a group of birders had the Flycatcher earlier in the morning for a consistent thirty minutes and Andrew informed us that he had it about 40 minutes before we got there. It's always cool to run into some of Arizona's coolest birders on these trips. As we visited and listened, I heard the flycatcher calling and eventually spied it coming into the birder crowd's immediate area. Andrew and I pointed out that it was coming and eventually the bird landed in the open for everyone. It landed on a shady and poorly-lit perch for Gordon, Chris, and I to get photographs, but sometimes an identifiable picture in a case such as this is somewhat of a great picture!
Tufted Flycatcher! Code 5 Mega rarity for North America. Life Bird-I've never been to Mexico. The bird went out of sight in a tall Cypress tree and we were waiting for it to show itself again. Since this post doesn't have many pictures, I have a funny story to tell to make this post a little more fun. I'll put two facts in mind. One, Andrew Core is an awesome birder who takes a lot of his time to help other birders with resources such as detailed maps to help them find birds, as well as constantly alert the birding listserv when mega-rarities like the Tufted Flycatcher who show up. Second, I heard and detected the incoming flycatcher and immediately informed everyone it was present. Some of these people don't do their homework and don't even know the bird's vocalization if it is practically sitting on top of them and calling. Some of them, just some of them. Andrew and I were whispering back-and-fourth about the bird and were barely making any noise when this depressing old lady confronted us and told us we were being disruptive, rude, were keeping others from hearing the bird, and didn't have any etiquette. I assume she didn't listen to the Tufted Flycatcher before she came. She was already making twenty times more the noise we were making. A fly flying by, the Elegant Trogon that was calling, or even the bad breath this lady breathed was louder than us. Birders were shocked she was acting like this to us especially considering that Andrew was the reason she knew where to find this bird in the first place and that I was the reason the bird was detected during this time frame of observation. It was pretty funny, some birders take birding way too seriously, and she was a wack job who had no clue of who she was talking to. Andrew tried to be very nice to her and calm her down because he is a cool guy and I was going to let the whole thing slide back down canyon, but she kept becoming more and more evil. Then we stuck up for ourselves and encouraged her to move along a few more feet down the trail so our whispering wouldn't bug her anymore. I laughed at her and said, "then what's your etiquette?", when she told us we should have etiquette. I'm not as nice as Andrew. She just kept going and going. I had the closing words, which I said loud, "well Andrew, I guess there's one in every group". I looked down at my party and it was quite funny. Gordon was trying not to laugh, Chris looked like he wanted to murder her, and Magill wasn't even aware of what was going on. The lady then let out a disgusting "ugghhh" and threw her hands up in the hair and soon left the canyon and luckily wasn't seen again. All we could really do was laugh it off, because it was funny. And Andrew and I were then motivated to help her find the bird. But she was just gone a few minutes after the confrontation. This lady walked two freaking miles up canyon in pursuit of this bird, embarrassed herself, and then walked right back down canyon. LOL!!!!
And then the Tufted Flycatcher came back ten minutes later.
This time, everyone was very nice in the crowd. Gordon, Chris, Magill and I all enjoyed fanstastic binocular looks although getting pretty blurry and not-so-good photographs of the bird. The experience was amazing and the drive and attempt at this bird was well worth it. I even saw Andrew walking back down canyon to look for that lady, because he is a cool dude. Even after the way she treated him, he was still trying to help her out. The Tufted Flycatcher is common in Mexico and favors pine forests in it's highlands range from northern Mexico to Peru. This flycatcher is tiny, and it isn't much larger than the tiny Tyrannulet. The Tufted Flycatcher called often, which sounds like a rolling and emphatic cheery "turree-turree". It almost reminds me of a mix between a Pewee and a Tyrannulet, and that is where it is placed in it's taxonomy.
We then ran into John Yerger, Jake Mohlmann, Erin and Scott Olmstead, and interestingly, Noah Strycker, who is doing a World Big Year this year! Noah is already over halfway there to get his goal of 5,000 birds around the world in 2015 and still has other countries to visit. It was cool meeting him. Anyways, John Yerger is an awesome birder and he heard two Tufted Flycatchers giving their "turee-turee" call at once from different locations. So there are two of them. The big question is: is breeding intact? It sure would be exciting if these two birds are breeding; it would be a first U.S. breeding record and they would also be easy to chase and see for everyone who wants to see them. I believe the person who did claim to see it on a nest.
Because we hike all the way down from Carr Canyon, we would have to walk all the way back up again. Well, some of us would. I chose to go back up Carr for the three miles up slope while Chris, Magill, and Gordon were heading down a much easier route down Ramsey Canyon. It was the gentleman inside of me ;) I would then drive down the rough and twisty Carr Canyon and eventually go to Ramsey Canyon to pick them up. Luckily, I didn't have to do it alone as John, Jake, Noah, Erin and Scott were all heading up that way too. They were nice to let me join them and I enjoyed birding with them for the hike back up the trail. Before I went back up, I mentioned to quite a few birders at the Tufted Flycatcher spot to keep an eye out for Spotted Owl because the habitat was perfect for them. Sure enough, a birder found one right after I left as he went to find a bush. The walk back up Carr was nice. I had awesome company and we found a few Red-faced Warblers among the species present.
The Tufted Flycatcher had the quadruple effect on all of us-it was a lifer for everyone in the party. Code 5's don't come every day. Birders are lucky to get one every year or two or three or four. It was a perfect reason to jump around.
This is the rarest bird I think I've chased in southeastern Arizona. I'm usually not very good at these rarities. I've missed Slate-throated Redstart by a day, Fan-tailed Warbler by 1.5 days, Crescent-chested Warbler by a day, another Crescent-chested Warbler by a few hours, and Aztec Thrush by 5 minutes. This felt great! Thanks to Gordon, Magill, and Chris for an awesome trip.