Saturday, September 19, 2015

Continuing Quest for #700 - Part 2

We left Fort Davis early on Thursday morning (August 27), heading north through scenic Wild Rose Pass.
Wild Rose Pass, Texas

Wild Rose Pass, Texas

Continuing north, we stopped for some birding at Balmorea State Park, where there wasn't much except for a nice bunch of Scaled Quail.
Scaled Quail. Balmorea SP, Texas

Scaled Quail. Balmorea SP, Texas

Scaled Quail. Balmorea SP, Texas

In the grassy areas of the campgrounds, there were lots of Desert Cottontails feeding unconcerned, and easily photographed.
Desert Cottontail. Balmorea SP, Texas

Nearby, we went to a better birding locale, Lake Balmorea, where there were even bigger bunches of Scaled Quail along the roads, as well as several Greater Roadrunners.
Lake Balmorea

Greater Roadrunner. Lake Balmorea, Texas

On the lake itself, there were quite a few Clark's Grebes, including adults feeding fairly large young.
Clark's Grebe. Lake Balmorea, Texas

From here, we made a long drive west through the El Paso area, stopping at two reservoirs for some birding, and the only Lucy's Warbler of the trip. A rest area near Fabens, Texas, had a bunch of Owlflies (family Ascalaphidae) on the walls. They have the appearance (and behavior, though nocturnal) of dragonflies, but with antennae that are more like butterflies.
Owlfly. Fabens, Texas.

After staying overnight in Gallup, New Mexico, on Friday (August 28) we drove southwest to the Rodeo area, where there was nice scenery and, surprisingly, good numbers of Cassin's and especially, Botteri's Sparrows.
Rodeo, New Mexico

Rodeo, New Mexico

Crossing into Arizona, we birded around the town of Portal for a while. We had contacted a private homeowner who had been hosting a Plain-capped Starthroat for several weeks, but it had not been confirmed there since Monday. We watched their wonderful swarm of hummingbirds (7 species) for about an hour, then went to another location along Foothill Boulevard where the bird had also been seen. Within about 15 minutes, the Starthroat made an appearance, perching in a small dead snag for a few seconds, before a Rufous Hummingbird chased it away. A few minutes later, it appeared again, more briefly, and again being chased away by a Rufous Hummingbird. Views of this life bird (and #697 in the ABA area) were very good, but too brief to obtain photos. We got an email later that it had been seen shortly after this at the first residence, where views might have been even better. From Portal, we headed into the Chiricahua Mountains.
Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona

Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona

Along one trail, there were some cooperative Clark's Spiny Lizards, as well as nice views toward Cave Creek Canyon.
Clark's Spiny Lizard. Arizona.

Clark's Spiny Lizard. Arizona.

Clark's Spiny Lizard. Arizona

Cave Creek Canyon, Arizona

The two-mile road to the parking area at the trailhead into the South Fork of Cave Creek Canyon was badly damaged in flooding last year, and was completely closed, requiring a walk in along the road. We only went about half way, but still had many bird highlights including Arizona Woodpecker and Elegant Trogon. More easily photographed were the wildflower and insect highlights. A Calliope Hummingbird drew attention to a Columbine species along the side of the road.
Columbine sp., Cave Creek Canyon, Arizona.

A Monarch relative, the Queen, was very cooperative.
Queen. Cave Creek Canyon, Arizona

Several California Sisters were flying around, alighting only briefly.
California Sister. Cave Creek Canyon, Arizona

And a tropical species that seemed to be quite common on this trip was Bordered Patch.
Bordered Patch. Cave Creek Canyon, Arizona.

A small species, nectaring on an Aster, was this Marine Blue.
Marine Blue. Cave Creek Canyon, Arizona.

There were lots of yellow butterflies along this road, most of which appeared to be Southern Dogface.
Southern Dogface. Cave Creek Canyon, Arizona

Among these, there was a smaller species, the Tailed Orange.
Tailed Orange. Cave Creek Canyon, Arizona.

And in the ground cover was a surprisingly colorful and conspicuous caterpillar that was eventually identified (thanks to the ID Request area of as a Typhon Sphinx.
Typhon Sphinx caterpillar. Cave Creek Canyon, Arizona

From Cave Creek Canyon, we headed toward the Southwestern Research Station, and stumbled upon a pair of Montezuma Quail in the road, with 4 recently hatched young. The babies ran quickly into the vegetation, so could not be photographed, but both adults posed briefly until their young had scrambled over a ridge on the side of the road.
Female Montezume Quail. Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona

Male Montezume Quail. Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona

At the Southwestern Research Station, an objective was to see and photograph Blue-throated Hummingbirds. We did see several, but the photography was difficult, and had to be cut short as a thunderstorm (brief, it turned out) moved into the area.
Blue-throated Hummingbird. Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona

Blue-throated Hummingbird. Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona

We continued over Onion Saddle where we did manage to briefly see Mexican Chickadee, but the Rustler Park area was disappointing as much of the area was charred from recent fires, so we did not find any Olive Warblers. There were some interesting plants in the area, including Pinedrops right at the parking area at Rustler Park.
Pinedrops. Rustler Park, Arizona

On the long, winding drive west out of the Chiricahuas, there were hummingbirds feeding on wildflowers growing out of the rocky hillsides along the road. This Penstemon was being visited by a Calliope Hummingbird.
Southwestern Penstemon (Penstemon barbatus).
Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona

Another blue flower was very abundant, and was clearly an important plant for the many Rufous Hummingbirds noted along the road. So far, it remains unidentified.
Hummingbird plant. Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona

Hummingbird plant. Chiricahua Mountains, Arizona

Once out of the Chiricahuas, we continued driving west, to the northwest side of the Santa Rita Mountains to Green Valley, which would be our base for the next four nights.

In the next installment, more Arizona birding...


Unknown said...

So that's where I need to hunt down the Starthroat. Portal. I knew they'd been seen at Patton's and Madeira Canyon at the Santa Rita, but didn't realize they also had visited feeders in Portal. Sad to hear about Rustlers' Peak. Did see an Olive Warbler their very briefly, but it was excellent for Hepatic Tanager.

Allen Chartier said...

This year has been good for Starthroats in Arizona, with 5 or 6 reported. One turned up at Patton's after we left, and the one at Madera Canyon was a no-show for us but may still be present. Locations vary from year to year, though, so you should set an eBird alert for Arizona to find out when and where they are being seen. And, don't wait too long to go for it!