Before that little adventure, we began slowly, after flying into Phoenix and heading directly to Encanto Park, home to a nice variety of birds, including the lovely Rosy-faced Lovebirds. Many, including the Gila Woodpecker and Gilded Flicker were Lifers for Sue. I'd have to wait a day for my first Lifer of the trip.
This one is rather messy looking, perhaps a baby:
Panorama from the bridge over the river in the Boyce Thompson Arboredum
That night we were scheduled to stay at the Madira Kubo B&B. I've birded at their feeders in past years, so it was going to be fun to stay in one of their "gingerbread" cabins.
As it turned out, there is no heat but a log burning stove, and it gets pretty cold in the mountains of Arizona in January. Also, reports of a Williamson's Sapsucker up the road at the Santa Rita Lodge were being delivered to my phone via e-Bird, so I was excited to get there the next morning.
ABA Lifer, 634: Williamson's Sapsucker
I've never seen so many Pine Siskins:
Our journeys then took us down to Patagonia, where we stayed for the next two nights, allowing us to visit Patagonia Lake State Park and meet up, once again, with Matt Brown, one of my favorite guides to bird with in North America. He took us to see the Sinaola Wren, which Sue caught a glimpse of, but I failed to see. Matt had taken me to find it in late 2014, so I wasn't too bumbed out to miss it, and it was, of course, a Lifer for Sue.
We travelled on our own to the famous Patten House, which the Arizona Audubon has taken over, and to Patagonia Lake State Park, and the wildlife preserve just outside the gates, the next day, where we saw, amongst others,
Gray Flycatcher, Cinnamon Teal, a Golden Eagle, Green-tailed Towhee, and Bridled Titmouse:
But the prize bird of the day, if the Golden Eagle wasn't enough, was the same Elegant Trogon I saw back near the end of my 2012 Big Year. We walked along the same route I took back then, and after an hour or so, I crossed a creek and found it for us and some other birders along the trail. Our views weren't great, but we all got a good look at the Trogon:
That evening Matt took us Owling, and I got a good photo of a Western Screech Owl:
Our next goal was the Baird's Sparrow and Montezuma Quail. Both are prized amongst birders for their level of dificulty in finding them. We struck out with the Baird's Sparrow, up in San Rafael Valley, but did get to see a family of Montezuma Quail on the road leading to Beaty's Guest Ranch. where we spend another couple of cold Arizona nights. It was the wrong time of year for Hummingbirds and the Spotted Owl I had also seen here in 2012, but all in all, a great experience. Well the roads in and out are kind of scary, but nothing close to what we experienced going to and leaving Portal.
The Near Mythical Montazuma Quail: Beatty's Guest Ranch:
On the road from Portal:
There was also a Barn Owl, in pretty much the same spot,(and likely the same one), as in 2012. This one did not require bushwacking to find, however we were not able to get too close to it.
One of the non birding highlights of the trip was eating at the Bisbee Breakfast Club, a place we stopped at on the way to Portal, in an old Copper Mining town:
Now, that's a breakfast!
Up in Portal, which was not such drive unto, but one of the most white knuckled drives down as I ever saw, we missed getting photos of the Juniper Titmouse, and only heard the Mexican Chickadee.
One of our last birds of the trip was a Lewis's Woodpecker in Tucson:
We saw over 100 species for the trip and I left Arizona having seen 194 species since starting my list, December 10 in California.