This update of Tucson Audubon Society's Rare Bird Alert for Southeast Arizona was made on June 24, 2016. The next update will be made on July 1.
For additional sightings in the region, please see the The Arizona-New Mexico Birding ListServ
SEVERAL IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS follow the sightings, including information on temporary closures and rules for access to other important birding areas. Abbreviation "m.ob." = multiple observers. An asterisk (*) preceding a species name in the list indicates that it merits careful, full documentation. A pound sign (#) indicates that brief corroborating details are warranted. Documentation and photos of review species may be submitted at http://www.azfo.org/gallery/
Where directions are not given, they can be found in the EIGHTH EDITION of Tucson Audubon's Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona.
SPECIES MENTIONED IN THIS REPORT INCLUDE:
*PINE FLYCATCHER (1st US record, pending acceptance)
A *PINE FLYCATCHER continued at Aliso Spring in a seldom visited part of the Santa Rita Mountains on 6/24 (m.ob.). This would be a first US record, pending acceptance. An *AZTEC THRUSH was photographed here on 6/13 (Laurens Halsey). This is in the same main drainage as the Red-headed Woodpecker (see below), but a different side canyon (Sawmill, one of many so named in Arizona). Take Gardner Canyon Rd west from Hwy 83; at mile 6.3, turn right to take the road to Aliso Spring. Dave's directions: "This is the start of the very bad road. Follow the rocky, uneven road (FR 4084) down into a dry stream drainage and up the hill to the other side. At 7.0 miles (that's 7 miles from the start of Gardner Canyon Rd. where you zeroed your odometer), bear to the left and follow the sign there that says 'Sawmill Trail 3'. Another 30-40 meters past here, bear left again onto the road marked as 4084A (4084 goes off to right - don’t take this one). The road past here isn't confusing, but it's EXTREMELY ROUGH AND STEEP!!! You could park and walk the remaining three miles into Aliso Spring from this last intersection, but it's all open, steep, and hot terrain, which would require great stamina and LOTS OF WATER. If you continue to drive, there are at least three very steep hills that definitely require 4WD to climb and descend (I had to put my 4Runner into 4Low to make it with a full vehicle). There's another minor intersection at 9.5 miles and you should bear to the right at this point. Then it's down the last hill into the Aliso Spring drainage and the road dead ends at 9.9 miles. There are lots of big oaks and a few big Arizona Sycamores here with lots of open ground, and a 10' long concrete water trough in the middle of it. The bird has been in this clearing and is often very confiding if you wait for it to show. It's the only bird giving a soft 'whip' note (like a Dusky or Gray or Willow flycatcher), so it should be relatively easy to track down." Map: https://goo.gl/eUEPkC
The last report of the *RED-HEADED WOODPECKER in Cave Canyon on the east flank of the Santa Ritas was on 6/11 (m.ob.). It has been at a group campsite on Gardner Canyon Rd. Park at the turnoff 7.8 miles west of Hwy 83 and walk down to the creek and back up to the campsite; the bird is frequenting the northwest section. A good landmark is a small drip in the middle of the campsite with a piece of rebar sticking up out of it at an angle. Map: https://goo.gl/eUEPkC
PORTAL & the CHIRICAHUAS (annotated map: http://goo.gl/maps/XfXfX)
At least one *SLATE-THROATED REDSTART continued in Pinery Canyon just downhill from the campground on 6/24 (Ed Hopkins). This is about 2.4 miles west of Onion Saddle (and, from the west, 9.4 miles east of the turnoff) where a small, mostly dry creek crosses the road; there is a small cairn on the south side. The road forms a "U" and the bird(s) nested inside the "U". Several young evidently fledged this week and are ranging up and down the drainage – please keep your distance! Parentage is unknown, as there have been multiple reports of two Slate-throated Redstarts, but the female was also observed mating with a male Painted Redstart.
A #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD continued at a residence in Portal on 6/24 (David Johnson).
SIERRA VISTA & the HUACHUCAS
In upper Ramsey Canyon, the pair of *TUFTED FLYCATCHERS continued this week (m.ob.). The birds are being seen about 2 miles up the Hamburg Trail from the Ramsey Canyon Preserve Visitor Center, about 1/3 mile past the junction with the Brown Canyon Trail. This is an occasionally steep 4 mile round trip hike at 6,000 ft elevation to reach this location; take plenty of water (several quarts) and be prepared for very hot dry days or sudden monsoon storm activity. The map here shows the location: https://goo.gl/aMh1ke Ramsey Canyon Preserve is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
In Hunter Canyon (https://goo.gl/CR4YXm), *RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS continued on 6/24 (Josh Lefever) in the upper canyon about 0.7 miles up the trail from the end of Hunter Canyon Road just as the trail enters the grove of trees.
A #SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER was reported at the Sierra Vista EOP on 6/19 (Erika Wilson et al); it was frequenting an area along Moson Rd just east of the facility and continued thorough 6/24 (m.ob.). There was a report of a second bird (seen concurrently) on 6/24 (Dennis Widman). Directions from Stuart Healy: "There is a tightly-grouped stand of large Arizona Cypress trees on the west side of Moson, about 0.8 mile north of Hwy 90. Immediately south of the large stand is a group of well-spaced, smaller Cypress trees. The flycatcher was back and forth into the small trees being harassed by Western Kingbirds. There is a convenient gravel parking pullout on the east side of Moson, directly opposite the small trees at 31.56333 110.18973."
In Miller Canyon, a male #WHITE-EARED HUMMINGBID was reported on 6/20 (fide Tom Beatty, Sr) and continued through 6/23 (m.ob.).
One or two #LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRDS continued at Ash Canyon B&B this week (m.ob.).
A dark morph *SHORT-TAILED HAWK was reported in the Ash Creek/Columbine area on Mt. Graham on 6/19 (Scott Olmstead).
*BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJARS continued at the south end of California Gulch at the confluence with Warsaw Canyon on 6/22 (m.ob.). #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued in the area on 6/21 (Laurens Halsey). Annotated map: http://goo.gl/wSr0mi
GREEN VALLEY & the SANTA RITAS
In Madera Canyon (map: http://goo.gl/dXBYP), a *BUFF-COLLARED NIGHTJAR was reported in the dispersed camping area along Proctor Rd. just past the cattle guard on 6/23 (Diane Harris). This is about 300 yards west of
In Florida Canyon (annotated map: http://goo.gl/AAzD6), #BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS continued this week (m.ob.) near the Florida Canyon parking area and a short distance up the trail.
TUBAC area (annotated map: http://goo.gl/maps/yDqi0)
A male # BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER was reported again at Puerto Spring northwest of Tubac on 6/22 (Keith Kamper). From I-19, take the Chaves Siding exit (#40) and turn right/west and then immediately right/north onto the frontage road. In about 0.2 miles, turn left/west onto the good dirt road. This takes you along
The revised 8th edition of Finding Birds in SE Arizona (2015) is the current edition. Addendum to the revised 8th edition is available at: http://www.tucsonaudubon.org/what-we-do/publications/431-fbiaddendum8th.html
TUCSON - Mosquito control operations are scheduled at Sweetwater Wetlands from 6:30-8:30am on Mondays. The gate will open when operations are finished. Roger Road WRF was closed as of 1/10/2014 and it is uncertain when access will be allowed again.
EL RIO OPEN SPACE PRESERVE/COACHLINE GRAVEL PIT - park in the dirt lot along the south edge near the berm, not in the neighborhood to the west. Annotated map: http://goo.gl/5vIQSb
GREEN VALLEY WWTP - Protocol for visiting: use the call box at the gate, sign in and out at the office, and stay away from buildings and construction equipment. ACCESS UPDATE: Closed due to construction until August 2016.
RAMSEY CANYON - Ramsey Canyon Preserve is open; it is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
ASH CANYON - Ash Canyon B&B is open dawn to dusk EXCEPT Wednesday, when open noon to dusk; parking is limited to six spots.
BENSON - the Benson Birding Trail is no longer accessible as the property is under new ownership.
PATAGONIA - The Paton Center for Hummingbirds remains open to birders.
FORT HUACHUCA - is an active military installation and will suspend your driving privileges on Post for 30 days on your first offense for talking or using a cell phone while driving. You MUST use a hands free device. Current entry requirements (subject to change without notice): US citizens should be prepared to show photo ID for everyone in the vehicle at the entrance, and possibly your vehicle registration and insurance as well. Foreign nationals must be accompanied by an approved military escort; contact the base (520.533.7111), or possibly the Sierra Vista Visitor's Bureau (520.417.6960) well in advance.
IMPORTANT: Ft. Huachuca has posted information on new access requirements on its official webpage at www.huachuca.army.mil - look for the "Gate Information" tab on the left side of the homepage. Read the information at the "Visitors Access" button. If you click the "Installation Access Forms" button, you can see the information you'll have to provide to get access. The Visitor Control Center is located at the Van Deman Gate on Hwy 90. http://www.huachuca.army.mil/pages/des/visitoraccess.html
ACCESS NOTE: apparently some states driver's licenses do not meet federal requirements for base entry (IL, MN, MO, NM, and WA); see https://www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs for details.
ACCESS NOTE: Despite the signage, Garden Canyon is indeed now open to vehicles up to the upper picnic area and foot traffic beyond this. (March 2016)
SANTA CRUZ FLATS: Management at the Evergreen Turf Sod Farm has asked birders not to drive into the property (i.e., the 2750 road); birding from perimeter roads (i.e., Tweedy or Pretzer) is still fine.
BAIRD'S SPARROW HILL AND THE VACA RANCH CORRAL in the San Rafael Valley is off limits to birders due to the thoughtless actions of a few birders. DO NOT ENTER THE PROPERTY. A sign has been posted previously stating that "stopping within 0.25 mile of the corral is prohibited."
The Regional Wastewater Reclamation Department is currently revising security procedures and the following rules are subject to change any time. Please see this link for important information regarding access: http://www.pima.gov/wwm/about/pdf/birdwatching.pdf. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
AVRA VALLEY WRF: Gates open at 6AM and close PROMPTLY at 2PM (do not linger, you will be locked inside).
ROGER ROAD WRF: closed
NOGALES STP: closed
CORONA DE TUCSON WRF: closed