Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May 3 - Nogales, AZ - California Gulch

This afternoon I met with guide Melody Kehl for a trip into the southernmost parts of Arizona.
The target birds were birds that barely enter the lower 48-states. These are the Five-Striped Sparrow and Buff-Collared Nightjar.

After a long and bumpy ride, many miles into the canyon, we set ourselves on course to find the sparrow. It is a bit early for these birds to be back in numbers, however they had just returned the week before. It took awhile however we did hear the call note of the bird. While searching the vicinity of the sound I did pick up the bird flying low into an Octotillo bush.
Immediately the bird dropped down to the ground, hopped twice, and then disappeared into the underbrush.

So it was unfortunate that I did not get nice looks at this bird, I was only able to see the bird and the white on its head. But when a bird is named "Five-Striped Sparrow" you want to see all of the stripes! However I guess I'm somewhat lucky as I was the only one in our group to actually see the bird, albeit just for an instant.

Then we waited around until sunset just past 7:30, and instantly heard Common Poorwills calling, following by the call of the Nightjar. We waited around another hour or so and tried to locate the bird without success. Finally at 9:30 the bird began calling again, and this time Melody was able to locate it perched in a tree. She was able to line us all up for a view, and then ever so briefly put a light onto the bird so we could enjoy the view of the Buff-Collared Nightjar.

On the drive out we were lucky to see a couple of Poorwills, one of which was firmly planted on the roeadside. We were able to see this bird in our headlights, and it offered very nice views as it sat there motionless.

Potentially this bird will be split out into the Sonoran (Mexican) Poorwill.

Overall a very rewarding trip. Like seabirding, you may not get the best nor longest looks at the bird, but it is the effort that counts and it is the best one can do without truly disturbing these birds of the night.