August 9th, 2010-Maricopa County Birding: DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHERS
Sorry for the late post as I didn't have access to a computer until now.
Yesterday on August 9th, 2010 I birded in the northeastern parts of
Maricopa County in the mountains of Slate Creek Divide and Mount Ord,
followed by a visit to Gilbert Water Ranch later in the evening.
Most of the day's excitement happened at Slate Creek Divide, as it was one
of the better birding outings I have had in Maricopa County this year.
Alot of Slate Creek is in Gila County as well, but I stuck in the places
that were in Maricopa. I started the day off with three MEXICAN JAYS, a
new county bird for me. I've been trying to see these birds all year at
Mount Ord, and finally I lucked out. I then drove on the road to the top
until it ended, where a trailhead is located. This trail is part of the
Arizona Trail, and probably has great hiking. Also right by this
trailhead is a drainage that goes in the southward direction, which is all
Maricopa County, which was what I planned to hike. The habitat is
excellent down this drainage which is very narrow, and it reminds me alot
of the southeastern Arizona canyons. It has ponderosa pines, firs, oaks,
and sycamore habitat. Sometimes it is very rocky as well. As I walked
down this drainage and got to a place where it seems like it would soon
come to an end, I kept doing and found that it meets another drainage,
which goes either way, east or west from the drainage I came down. Here
is where the sycamore habitat is great, which attracted the subject bird
of this post, the DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER. I first heard a bird calling
which is distinctive and thought Dusky-capped immediately, but I wanted to
see the bird. The small flycatcher eventually came into view. But more
and more of them seemed to call as I saw at least three individuals move
around in front of me, in which they provided excellent views while
vocalizing the entire time. They gave their call notes continuously while
I observed, but never a full song. I figured I had a minumum of at least
five birds, but however, I think there are more than that. As I walked to
the opposite end of this bottom drainage, I heard another Dusky-capped
Flycatcher calling. I would guess they probably are breeding here, the
habitat is excellent! I birded this drainage once one other time with Jim
Kopitzke, and we both agreed this place has great potential. We even
said "this would be a good Dusky-capped Flycatcher spot". I would
estimate about a mile and a half to get to this spot. Besides the
flycatchers and Mexican Jays, birding was amazing and the birds were
abundant in numbers. A heard-only flyover RED CROSSBILL was a nice
suprise as I was heading down, another Maricopa first for me. Warblers
were abundant, as a Red-faced Warbler attempt was my main purpose for
coming here. No Red-faced Warblers, but I had great looks at many PAINTED
REDSTARTS. Fall migration is in swing now as I saw three different
WILSON'S WARBLERS. Other warblers were BLACK-THROATED GRAY, OLIVE,
VIRGINIA'S, GRACE'S, and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS. Many WESTERN-WOOD
PEWEE'S and CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHERS (new Maricopa bird for me) were
present as well. RED and WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCHES sang and called
throughout the morning. ACORN and HAIRY WOODPECKERS were also present
throughout. Three vireos I found were HUTTON'S, PLUMBEOUS, and WARBLING.
One WESTERN BLUEBIRD flew over calling and there were also a few BUSHTITS
and one RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD. Non-bird wise, I stumbled across a noisy BLACK-
TAILED RATTLESNAKE, who was about five feet away from me. Luckily, I
wasn't five feet over in his direction. This was the second Black-tailed
Rattlesnake I have encountered this year, the first was in Miller Canyon
with Justin Jones, who almost stepped on the snake. They sure do blend in
with their surroundings, so please do be careful. 39 species total for
the Slate Creek area.
Next, I went to Mount Ord as the afternoon set in. It was pretty quiet,
but I still had several good sightings. Most interesting was a COSTA'S
HUMMINGBIRD, which was at the end of road 1688. The habitat at this point
was shrubby at parts (Black-chinned Sparrow habitat), which many pines
around. Near the top of Ord, a family of three COOPER'S HAWKS flew around
back and fourth. Other birds at Mount Ord were BLACK-CHINNED and RUFOUS
HUMMINGBIRDS, ACORN and HAIRY WOODPECKERS, DUSKY FLYCATCHER, and HEPATIC
and WESTERN TANAGERS.
I then stopped at Gilbert Water Ranch in the evening, with not much of
interest among 36 species. Hopefully more shorebirds will start showing
80 species for the day, one of the funnest ones I've had in awhile.
Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)
August 20th, 2010-Southwest Maricopa County birding: TRICOLORED HERON CONTINUES..
Jim Kopitzke and I birded the southwest area of Maricopa County today
hoping to pick up some shorebirds. We started at the Glendale Recharge
Ponds and worked our way down to the Gila Bend area.
The Glendale Recharge Ponds were our first stop, where it was nice to meet
Charlie Babbit (who previously posted from this morning as well), who
pointed out several birds to us we were wanting to see. They were BAIRD'S
and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS as well as a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER. Thanks
Charlie! Jim also spied a LEAST TERN diving and flying over the water,
which was a very nice surprise.
Our next stop was the El Rio Research Area, where the TRICOLORED HERON,
who has been present since Saturday, August 14th, continued in the same
area as previously reported. A PEREGRINE FALCON also sat on the sand bar
amongst the many herons.
In Arlington, we stopped at the Arlington Wildlife Area, where it was too
hot to walk around much at all. We did get a nice look at a LEAST BITTERN
We then covered many of the good shorebird areas that Troy, Kurt, and Josh
explored on Sunday. Thanks to Troy for sharing many of these shorebird
areas with us! Today we didn't have as good of a shorebird diversity, but
large numbers of WILSON'S PHALAROPES were still present at the Gila Bend
Power Plant, as well as the Gila Bend Wastewater Ponds. At the Wastewater
Ponds, we also encountered the midges and almost died in the two minutes
we scanned. Those things are certainly awful!
Tommy DeBardeleben (Glendale, Arizona)