Friday, March 29, 2013

Las Cienegas

We were due for another birding trip. So bright and early on Monday morning I was up making tea and packing my bag for a trip out with Kathie, my birding buddy. Our destination, Las Cienegas NCA to the south of Tucson.

It was a perfect morning, clear, blue and warm with the gentlest of breezes. we made good time and soon arrived at the Conservation Area. It was only a matter of seconds before we started seeing birds and the first was a new species for me, the Black-throated Sparrow.

Not the greatest of photos but it had to be included. What little beauties. As you know I am not a fan of sparrows generally but there are some stunners in the south-west. We trundled on and Kathie asked me if I had seen Pronghorn Antelope before, as I turned and looked out of the window - 'Oh you mean like those three there?'

Right on cue, there they were looking so pretty in the golden grass. Well of course I took way too many photos - no great surprise there.

I was briefly distracted by a Harrier swooping and hunting low over the grass

but of course I couldn't get a decent shot of it and soon returned to the Pronghorns.

Then Kathie spotted an Eastern Lillians Meadowlark posing perfectly in a small tree so I tore myself away from the Pronghorns again, but only briefly!

Eventually they moved off and we were able to continue towards the ranch,


spotting Horned Larks and White-tailed Deer along the road as we went.

We parked up under a tree with two Turkey Vultures peering down at us.

There were Say's Phoebes and Vermilion Flycatchers hawking insects all around us.

We headed down into the relative shade of the gulch and it was alive with birds. We could hear what Kathie suspected to be a Gray Hawk calling but we couldn't spot it. There were Yellow-rumped Warblers and Chipping Sparrows everywhere we turned.

Where the sun filtered through the trees there were lizards basking in the warmth.


We made very slow progress through the trees as there was something new to look at everywhere we turned. Zone-tailed Hawks, Painted Redstarts, Ruby-crowned Kinglets the list was endless.

We walked towards the other end of the gulch towards the water source and as we were carefully negotiating our way around some protruding tree roots a Wilsons Warbler popped out right next to us.

As he flitted about we tried to get some decent shots of him which wasn't easy.

After reaching the end of the gulch we turned around and slowly picked our way back.

We had got about half way back when we both spun around in opposite directions pointing 'Look, look, look!' We had both spotted a Gray Hawk - two of them, flying in opposite directions! Luckily one perched just long enough in a tree for us to confirm its ID before disappearing. What a finale! We made our way back to the car and had a tea-break in the shade

before setting off again to cross the grasslands to the south to another exit, adding a few more species along the way.

What a wonderful day we had with so many beautiful species. We arrived home hot, dusty and very happy.

Here is Kathies beautiful account of our trip - Kathies Birds