Revised 2011 bird total:
437 species

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day one of Arizona - 4 0 0

Wow.  Wow is all I can say.  Today was birding at it's best for Big Year birding.

I'm at 400 species for the year.  Wow.

I added 21 new year birds today in Southeast Arizona.  19 of 21 were lifers.  I will summarize the birds from each location with brief descriptions (if there are descriptions).

We started the day at Agua Caliente Park with a morning bird walk in Tucson Arizona.  On the drive to the park I added 2 year birds:

Gila Woodpecker -- saw 2 on drive to Agua Caliente.  At Agua Caliente and other locations they were common.
Phainopepela -- saw several on drive to Agua Caliente, they were abundant nearly everywhere I was today.

At Agua Caliente on the morning bird walk I added 9 new year birds:

Abert's Towhee -- single bird, very nice to see
Cactus Wren -- first heard several individuals, then one gave very nice looks.  Beautiful bird.
Rufous-winged Sparrow
Brewer's Sparrow
Western Bluebird -- a few together, one of the 2 year birds today not a lifer
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher -- pair along trail, mellow and giving very nice looks.  Excellent bird.
Black-throated Sparrow -- somebody reported seeing a few, we finally spotted one.  It took about 10 minutes, and we thought the work was necessary, but only if we knew we'd see them by the dozens at a different area later in the day.
Costa's Hummingbird -- nice to grab another hummer.

Happy to be at 390 after the Agua Caliente walk, we headed to the Tanque Verde Wash in hopes of finding Vermillion Flycatcher and sparrows.  There I added one new year bird:

Vermillion Flycatcher

There we met a very knowledgeable birder who said that he had just been on an excellent birding road that we had never even heard of.  So we changed our plans, skipped the Mount Lemmon Hwy and headed to that other road.

What a road it was!  The birds were excellent and the landscape, OMG.  Sugaro Cactus in the lower elevations and pines in the higher elevations, this was amazing.  On this road I added 7 new year birds:

White-throated Swift -- a few flying around. Beautiful birds.
Rock Wren
Black-chinned Sparrow -- 2 at different locations.  Nice bird.
Ash-throated Flycatcher -- a very welcome surprise, this was a bird I never imagined getting on this trip. I spotted it perched atop a small tree, and I immediately thought "Great Crested" since they're common in Virginia in the summer.  But there's no Great Cresteds in Arizona at all, let along them not being in the US in winter.  This bird had a lighter chest and giving field marks, and most importantly range it was clearly an Ash-throated.
Mountain Bluebird
Western Scrub-Jay -- the other bird that was a year bird but not a lifer today
Juniper Titmouse

I was now at 398, just a stone's through away from 400.  To close up the day we decided to go back to Agua Calliente Park and hope for 2 or more birds.  There were still some birds listed on their checklist as  "common" that I needed: Pyrrhuloxia, Greater Roadrunner, Gilded Flicker, and others.  And a few listed "uncommon" that I needed: Brewer's Blackbird and others.  So we were hoping.

I happened managed 2 new year birds at Agua Caliente Park in the evening, just enough to put me right at 400:

Gilded Flicker
Brewer's Blackbird -- year bird # 400!  What a milestone.  It was a flyover flock, and we later found a flock, presumably the same one along the road.

I am so thrilled to be at 400.  I can't believe this!!!!!!!!  And I have 3 more days of birding just to celebrate and add some more birds for 410 or 415.

Tonight I plan to do a photo post with a few photos from today.


  1. Oh yeah, there's a Rufous-capped Warbler in Florida Canyon just below the dam in the Santa Rita Mountains.

  2. Thanks Jeremy. I know about the Rufous-capped Warbler. That's a great bird. If it's still around on Saturday I plan to chase it then.


  3. Congratulations Gabriel... what an awesome day for you. I am so proud of you and your accomplishments..... You are an amazing birder. Have a great day tomorrow!

  4. Congratulations buddy! I bet you didn't sleep much last night! I probably wouldn't. You can stop now and come home! (...just kidding) Now the pressure's off; you can relax and not worry about numbers!