I started the birding day by spending 45 minutes at one of the best spots that our guide from yesterday Laurens Halsey said that some good birds often come to, including Magnificent Hummingbird and Hepatic Tanager. At the 40 minute mark of my 45 minutes at that location in Madera Canyon this morning the MAGNIFICENT HUMMINGBIRD came on in! It stayed around for about 15 seconds giving a couple of very nice looks! Because I had to wait 40 minutes for it, a sure reminder that patience pays off.
We left Madera Canyon and our plan for this last day of birding was to hit the Sulphur Springs Valley, look for whatever year birds we could find and since raptors or both my dad and I's favorite birds, look for raptors. We traveled the roads, essentially making a big loop covering some amazing habitat in the Sulphur Springs Valley. Even before we got to the valley we pulled over to look for Lark Sparrow. There were lots of Chipping Sparrows here, loads by the dozens if not hundreds. I knew that there had to be at least a few Lark with them. Then I spotted a group of 5, longer-tailed sparrows. 4 kept flying. 1 briefly perched! With it's distinctive facial pattering, I could confirm it as a Lark Sparrow, the second lifer of the day and number 427 for my Junior Big Year!
We had a great day in the Sulphur Springs Valley searching for raptors and ended up with a total of 89 individuals, broken down by by 6 species. Counts were as follows (raptor with highest number to lowest):
these are the total counts for the whole day, from Madera Canyon to Tucson via the Sulphur Springs Valley. We did very little or no back-tracking so I am confident that no raptors were double-counted.
In the Sulphur Springs Valley we also went to Whitewater Draw to see the Sandhill Cranes which was amazing.
Tomorrow before I fly home to Virginia I will try for a Broad-billed Hummingbird. I checked the listservs for near home, it looks like I may be headed north once again. A Black-headed Gull has showed up in Maryland, ironically in the very same area as where I was for the Le Conte's Sparrow and Calliope Hummingbird a couple of weeks ago. I've been in touch with a great local birder there and he said that both sharp-tailed sparrows and King Rail could be possible in the same general area of Maryland. So I'll be talking my mom into a trip to Maryland sometime before Christmas...