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Field Trip #1

16 Aug

This morning I was in the van just before 5 AM to begin my first field trip of the festival.  There were two vans, with 1 leader and 6 participants in each for this trip.  There were other vans taking people to various locations, but the one these two vans were taking us to is a place called the California Gulch.  We left on Highway 19 and headed towards Mexico.  About 30 miles this side of the border, we turned off onto a back road.  Just my kind of trip.  It was a steep, rocky, narrow road that twisted and turned, went up and down and clung to the side of some pretty steep hills. Mountains were all around us.

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It took us through some old, old mining territory.  Extremely scenic.  We saw about 4 tarantulas and 1 turtle (Box) crossing the road.  We also saw a Mule Deer and a family of White-tailed Deer along the way.

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Birds were everywhere.  We saw both Black and Turkey Vultures, Gray (exceptional look perched right at the side of the road) and Red-tailed Hawks.  We saw 5 species of Doves, two Yellow-billed Cuckoos and at least 6 Greater Roadrunners.  I saw 3 species of woodpecker.  The Arizona Woodpecker was a life bird for me.  We tallied 11 species of flycatchers – 3 of which were life birds for me:  Brown-crested Flycatcher, Cassin’s Kingbird and Thick-billed Kingbird.  There were 3 species of vireos.  5 species of swallows. A Bridled Titmouse.  A Verdin.  4 western wrens:  Rock, Canyon, Bewick’s and Cactus.  We saw all three gnatcatcher species together in one area, of which the Black-capped Gnatcatcher was a life bird for me.  A Phainopepla.  7 warbler species.  10 sparrow species.  Botteri’s, Cassin’s and Five-striped Sparrows were life birds for me.   Of the cardinals grosbeaks and allies, we counted 9 species, of which the Varied Bunting was a life bird.  And we saw 5 species of blackbirds and orioles.

We got back to the Inn at 4 PM.  Pretty exhausted.  But I had time to rest just a bit before the Welcome Banquet at 6:30.  The meal was excellent.  And the keynote speaker was Robert Mesta.  Mr. Mesta is a champion of endangered species restoration.  He spoke about the Bald Eagle, the Peregrine Falcon, the California Condor and the Masked Bobwhite.  Very good presentation.

I am now going to get myself organized for tomorrow.  Again, I have to be sitting in a van at 5 AM.  A group of us will be heading up into the Huachuca Mountains for another full day of birding.

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Posted by on August 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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