Sunday, April 10, 2016

On Our Way to Sasabe- A Quick Stop in Tucson, AZ

We were on our way to our next volunteer job at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Sasabe, Arizona. Tucson is about an hour and half north of the refuge and  we had a few issues to take care of on our 5th wheel so we stopped in Tucson for a few days for repairs and to pick up supplies. Tucson is known as a birder's paradise so we decided to explore a few spots as time permitted.

Sweetwater Wetland is a constructed wetland located in Tucson. Built in 1996, it helps treat secondary effluent and backwash from the reclaimed water treatment system at the adjacent water treatment plan. This beautiful spot serves as an environmental education facility and habitat for a wide variety of wildlife as well as a wonderful example of water treatment options.

This Round-tailed Squirrel greeted us
Southwestern Song Sparrow
We had two subspecies of Orange-crowned Warblers!

Subspecies lutenscens of Orange-crowned Warbler- this subspecies is brighter and more yellow on the belly than the celata subspecies below

The celata subspecies of Orange-crowned Warbler- you can even see a hint of its orange crown

Male Black-throated Gray Warbler
It was a very warm afternoon- this hot coyote found a place to cool off:-)

Male Ruddy Duck from a distance- I love that light blue bill they get during breeding season

Ruddy Duck male in plumage transition

Female Ruddy Duck

A Rock Squirrel was calling from the Mesquite Tree

Common Gallinule

We caught this male Vermillion Flycatcher taking a bath

We saw this American Goldfinch male coming into breeding plumage feeding with some Lesser Goldfinches. This is considered a rare bird in this area- ??? not sure why because they do winter here. Maybe most have left for breeding territories up north

While we were looking at the American Goldfinch this bright orange male Baltimore Oriole caught our eye. They are not typically found west of the Rockies and east Texas.
Agua Caliente Park is located near the Catalina foothills, not far from the road up Mt Lemmon. It is a beautiful 100 acre Pima County park that features a perennial warm spring & pond that is home to an exceptionally rich mix of plants & animals. The park has a long and interesting history with evidence of human habitation dating back about 5,500 years. In 1984 a local businessman donated over $200,000 towards the purchase of Agua Caliente Ranch. The park opened to the public on January 19, 1985.

This male Lesser Goldfinch greeted us as we entered the grounds
Then we had a number of Bell's Vireos calling and flitting about providing amazing views:-)

The Verdins were also very vocal and present....I guess everyone is competing for nesting territory
This male Vermillion Flycatcher was busy sallying about. This bird was probably born last year, hence the lighter red on the belly.
Male American Wigeon
The very photogenic male Ring-necked Duck

Female Ring-necked Duck

You can tell this Pied-billed Grebe is in breeding plumage due to the dark ring on the whitish bill and the black on the underside of the throat

I think this is a second year Double-crested Cormorant since it is not black yet but still has a dark colored underside

Male and female Mexican Duck...they are a subspecies of the Mallard. The male has a yellow bill and the female has the orange and black bill

Female Mexican Duck

Lucy's Warbler down by the water getting a drink and bathing:-)
Nesting Cooper's Hawks!!

We did not think it could get better and then Bob looked up..."Harris Hawk"! We had seen one in Texas but this was our first sighting in Arizona

Mt Lemmon is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains with an elevation of 9,159. It is located north of Tucson in the Coronado National Forest. It was a beautiful day for a drive and we were in no hurry. We pulled off and explored a number of stops along the way...we never did reach the top that day...another reason to return:-)

We had a pair of Black-tailed Gnatcatchers flitting about and calling..
Here is the male with his dark cap and white split eye ring

Looked like some kind of display

This Rock Wren was hanging out near the parking area
Our last stop for the day was the Rose Canyon Campground. The campground was still closed but there is parking along the road for folks to walk in.

Rose Canyon Lake is located 30 miles northeast of Tucson. Apparently it is a 7 acre lake located in a mature stand of ponderosa pine...we never did make it all the way to the lake. It was so birdy the day we were there that it took us a few hours to walk just a few miles:-) Another reason to return...what a gorgeous spot!

We were greeted by Pygmy Nuthatches calling and feeding overhead in the trees

There was quite a bit of bird song and chatter going on- we noticed a number of Western Bluebirds calling

Then right over our heads we had a male and female Olive Warbler singing and feeding- some of the best views we have ever had of the male Olive Warbler:-)

As we continued our walk we came upon this Brown looks rather brown vs. darker which would be the southwestern that would make this bird the americana subspecies that has brownish upper parts with pale spotting.
It had been awhile since we had seen Mountain Chickadees...
We had peek-a-boo views of this empidonax flycatcher. Empids are a family of flycatchers that are rather hard to id. Any ideas??

THE END...of the Round-tailed Squirrel
We will definitely be going back to Tucson to continue exploring the wealth of great birding spots.
The World is Full of Beauty & Wonder,
Turtle and Hawk

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for giving us more places to explore in Tucson! You're right, the birding is just fabulous there during migration. Such a thrill to get a sighting of a Harris Hawk! We've only seen them once (outside of the free-flight at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which is quite wonderful). Happy Spring birding! :-))