Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May 5 - Arizona - Highway 77

I had a few target birds left on my trip, so today I hired Rick Wright of Aimophilia Adventures to help me locate them. We were to take Highway 77 north from Tucson, traveling along the Gila River through Winkelman, and then on towards the town of Globe.

We first drove to our furthest point, a "brake-check" area on the crest of a large hill on Highway 77. This has been a reliable spot for the Gray Vireo over the recent years. Unfortunately it was extremely windy and gusty on the ridge. After about 30 minutes we heard the call of the Vireo, and moments later I was able to see a pair of the the birds. While not the closest looks the birds did stay up on the brush for awhile and took some short flights. This allowed me to get some diagnostic views and hear the birds again. Considering the conditions I think it was quite a good show.

On the drive back down the river we continued searching for the Common Black-Hawk. During the drive we have two separate quick views of the Western Scrub Jay. We then stopped at an indistinct spot of desert as we heard some birds. Here we had nice views of Townsend's Warbler, Brewer's Sparrow, Lucy's Warbler etc.

Without success on the Hawk, we then stopped at Winkelman Flats and the bridge there that crosses the Gila River. Here we had a nice collection of birds. Notably a Yellow-Breasted Chat perched in a leafless tree giving great views of this difficult to see bird in my northern New Jersey home-region. Overhead we had Barn, Tree, and Cliff and Rough-Winged Swallows, and a few migrant Vaux's Swifts.

Returning north on the highway I finally spotted a hawk overhead and stopped the car. However this was a Gray Hawk, and while uncommon not only in the US and particularly this far north, it was not the target bird. But just a minute later Rick located the Common Black-Hawk.

The bird was circling overhead, but was still low enough to give me excellent views of this species.

Especially when the bird turned in it's circle, I got wonderful views of the upper-wing side of the Hawk.

Another awesome morning in Southeastern Arizona !