Monday, March 15, 2010

Birding from Sunrise to Sunset: Kino Springs and Beyond

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Kino Springs Golf Course 3-5-10

My birding day had started with a sunrise drive to Patagonia where I met Jeff and Dawn Fine.  After six hours of birding at Patagonia Lake SP we decided to finish our birding day at Kino Springs. Kino Springs is a golf resort near Rio Rico, Arizona.  It is a birding hotspot that I have never been to, so when Jeff and Dawn said they knew where it was I asked if they would take me there. I had no idea what we would find, but I was very happy to try someplace new. Driving west on highway 82 we turn onto the road just after the bridge over the Santa Cruz River. It isn’t long before we are seeing birds. Sparrows pop up out of the grass, Say’s Phoebes flit through the sky. Mourning Doves hang on the wires and robins flutter in the trees. Jeff parks the car and goes into the club house to ask permission for us to bird.  It is readily granted and we are off. Dawn and I find Audubon's yellow-rumped warblers in the trees near the sewage treatment pond, then we walk over to another pond across the street from the country club. In spite of recent rain, this one is drying up, yet there is still enough water in it to attract the birds.  A pair of Gadwall and several green-winged teals fly or swim to the farthest edge away from us as we drew near the pond.

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Great-blue Heron 3-5-10

While we are watching them a Great Blue Heron lands and starts hunting along the edge. A black phoebe flits near the water along with a Says’ phoebe and several Vermillion flycatchers. Most are brilliant red males but we find one female in the bunch. A Loggerhead shrike watches us from some nearby utility wires while across the pond some starlings feed on he ground with a few killdeer.

DSC_0237 We can hear the calls of red-winged blackbirds trilling to the sky from across the pond.

DSC_0240 A vesper sparrow hops up on a branch and takes a look at me.

DSC_0248Then Dawn spots these Lawrence’s Goldfinches in the willows along the bank.  I couldn’t quite believe her at first but after a closer look I discover she is right.  I have never seen more than one Lawrence’s goldfinch at once while Dawn says that whenever she has seen them they have always been in a flock. These are backlit by the setting sun and well hidden in the tree but finally I see the black foreheads and gray backs with a yellow wash on the wings and breast.

DSC_0278Crissal Thrasher 3-5-10 

We are busy looking at a flock of Brewer’s Sparrows in the hedgerow along the fence line when Dawn cries out excitedly, “Crissal thrasher, Crissal thrasher! I spin around with my bins and my camera while Jeff gets it focused in the scope.  I have never seen a Crissal Thrasher in the three years that I have lived here, so, while this is not the trogon, it is a *Life Bird for me and I am very excited. The Crissal sits atop what looks like a dead bush singing a tremulous song.  The notes float over the greening meadow below while Dawn and I stand mesmerized. I alternate between looks through the scope and taking pictures with the camera.  Still, even with the 70-300mm zoom we are quite far away, so Dawn and I start to creep slowly closer.  Step!  Snap!  Step!  Snap!  Until the bird decides that we have gotten too close.  It ceases its song abruptly and flies to the ground for cover.

DSC_0291 We end the day in Rio Rico at the Rio Rico Pond where we see a dowitcher, several ducks, and tree swallows.  The swallows were everywhere today and they are headed north.  Migration has begun.  Get ready.

Our final bird of the day is a Great-horned owl we see on the side of the San Cayentano Mountains where I take Jeff and Dawn to see the lights of Rio Rico and Nogales.  It is twilight as we head down the mountainside and there on the same utility pole where I saw the owls mating last year sits this large bird.  We all get so excited that I think the bird heard us from inside the car for it flies off into the night as we roll down our windows for a better look.

It is a half-hour or more ride back to Patagonia and the RV where I  say good-bye to Jeff and Dawn Fine. On the ride there I chatted like a magpie from the back seat.  It’s something I do when I am really tired.  Jeff and Dawn were so kind. We hug good-bye and I get in my car wondering when or where I will see them again. I feel like we have been friends for a long time already.  I will never forget the birding adventures that we have had together. Now, I still have an hour’s ride home in the dark on the back roads of Arizona. And though I am alone, I am not lonely. I can hear the sound of the road beneath my tires and the songs of birds in my head.  I feel Orion guarding me in the starry sky above. As I approach the border patrol checkpoint on Highway 83 I chat with the young man who is the guard.  I suddenly realize how dark and lonely it must be out here in the night on this back road. He has to stay at his post, while I am heading home with a tired but contented smile on my face to a good husband and a warm bed and a HUGE checklist to compile!

And that’s…

My World Tuesday!

In the end we saw 72 species of birds on this day with 47 species at Patagonia Lake, 28 species at Kino springs, and 11 species in Rio Rico.

*Kathie’s Life Bird Number 371: Crissal Thrasher

5 comments:

Arija said...

Kathie, your world is always so full of wonders and glorious birds that if I were the envious type, I would be envious. As it is, I am absolutely thrilled for you to see all these wonderful birds and their habitat. You enjoy them so much that it spills over and we all get our share too. As always, thank you.

Denise said...

What wonderful photos; always great. How I wish I could go birding with you, you make it sound so much fun and I know I would learn a lot. Thanks for the virtual tour Kathie, enjoyed it immensely.

dAwN said...

Awww...what a wonderful day we had!
Hope you had a wonderful trip..
See you in CT!

Kathiesbirds said...

Arija, I am blogging from the road on my laptop but so glad to see you here. Thank you for your comments. You know I love to have your virtual companionship!

Denise, glad to have you along as well!

Hey Dawn, where are YOU now?

Larry said...

Congratulations on the lifer-sounds like you had a great time.