I’ve been listening to thrashers sing since I got here. Now I hear a covey of Gambel's quail calling to each other across the desert. Then, a little black-throated sparrow lands on a twig right near the picnic table. This time I am able to snap off quite a few pictures before it leaves. Then, I see a flash of feathers cross the road. I leave my belongings on the table and follow. Looking through my binoculars I see a bird that looks like a cross between a junco and a sparrow. While it has a gray head and a junco-like beak, it’s back has the coloring of a chipping sparrow. I know I’ve seen its picture before, but I can’t think of the name. I try to take a picture of it myself but this little guy is secretive and elusive. Every time I think I have clear shot it drops back into the brush again. It always manages to keep a flower, or stick between us. Finally it flies off into even deeper cover, but I’m sure of what I saw and when I get to consult my bird guides afterwards I discover it is a black-chinned sparrow, a life bird for me!
I put away the remnants from lunch and climb around on the hillside. The Javalina Picnic Area is in a bit of a hollow with rocky outcroppings and cactus covered hillside all around. Beyond this natural bowl the Rincon mountains rise in the east and with the recent rains and snow I can hear water trickling down the cliffs in a gentle cascade. Walking up the hillside I come upon the covey of Quail. They are rather tame here and don’t dart for cover as quickly as the ones in my neighborhood, so I am able to take a decent picture of some of them before they dash for cover again. I estimate their number at about 14, which is the most I have seen at one time.
While I am standing there photographing quail, a little rock wren hops up on a picnic table as if to inquire about what I am finding so interesting. Well, you of course, I think as I snap off some pictures of it. The sun is beating down on my feverish body but I don’t want o give up yet. I climb even farther up and start to circle the picnic area, but it seems all the birds like the bottom of the bowl better, for there are few up here, save for a red-tail lazily circling the sky.