phil jeffrey:: Arizona, Feb 2013 trip report


Arizona Birding Trip, February 7-12th 2013

Flights etc

I flew South West Airlines between Newark and Phoenix (non-stop flight). Generally this was a positive experience, especially compared to my recent flights on United, although their boarding process is a little quirky until you've done it the first time. I rented a car from Budget which was fine, typical higher-mileage for this era, albeit with one or two issues and a slow return process.

Sunrise/Sunset and Weather Forecasts

Phoenix Feb 7th: sunrise 7:19am, sunset 6:06pm
Weather forecast Phoenix
Weather forecast Tucson
Weather forecast Lake Havasu City


Planning Notes

This was only my third trip to AZ, the previous ones being a mid-April trip (the TX-AZ road trip) and the "western Flycatcher trip" which started in Phoenix and ended in Denver in May/June 2006. A couple of times I'd canceled trips to AZ because of drought conditions. I've never birded AZ in winter, but the emphasis shifts a little from the canyons toward more lowland areas.

This trip was a shorter specific-target trip, and was not very successful. I got 3 of my targets, had to work for 2 out of those 3 and missed 3 other lifers and a few other second tier targets. There were a few reasons for this: a slightly shorter trip compared to my typical TX winter trips; having to try for both the main targets (Le Conte's Thrasher, Western Screech-Owl) three times each; a lot of the other targets vanishing or becoming elusive on/around the previous weekend; the geography and large scale of the place. I ended up with a trip total that was significantly lower than a comparable TX trip, even given that TX this year was somewhat lackluster. In context, however, my dissatisfaction with my winter AZ trip shouldn't overshadow AZ as an overall birding location. I've been to TX many more times than AZ and my TX state list is ~338 and my AZ list is ~302. AZ is a far better value in spring-fall, probably. One thing about timing is that by later in Feb (22nd, specifically) I start to see sentiments on both TX and AZ lists that waterfowl are on the move and while it's still icy in NJ on that date it likely reflects a warming trend in the southern states.

I used three major resources: the AZNM mailing list, eBird sightings reports, the Tucson RBA. I supplemented these with Stuart Healey's birding journal at which picked up sightings I wasn't otherwise aware of. Stuart seems to be somewhat retired now, (I've not used him as a guide but many have). For the May 2006 trip his journal was invaluable for species locations. For this trip it's not quite as essential.

I also got very useful advice from a pro guide and local Patagonia birder Matt Brown - I met him on the Nome section of my 2012 AK trip and while I've never been a client I think he'd be a very good option if you were looking for a guide. (Actually became a client in June 2013 - good experience with him and he got me my Mexican Whip-poor-will). I can also mine eBird sightings using the BirdsEye iPhone app while in the field (find local hotspots and sightings) although given my level of preparation this time it was not especially useful. To a lesser extent I've used the Tucson Audubon's "Finding Birds in S.E. Arizona" for which I have an older version. I took this book with me although I already knew directions to most places based on planning for prior trips.

Sightings for Primary Targets

Upper case are life bird targets.

Sightings for Secondary Targets

Trip Report

Thursday Feb 7th

I flew South West Airlines flight 1558 from Newark to Phoenix (non-stop). South West have a novel boarding scheme in terms of queueing and no assigned seats that worked well on this flight. Combine this with a non-packed flight, good crew and free snacks and this provided a very positive opinion of South West. I rented a car from Budget that had a broken A/C (turned out to be intermittent) which doesn't say many good things about Budget, however. The contract had no return directions and the return process was glacially slow - not a company that impressed me but I did get a little discount from booking via SouthWest's site. $270 for a passenger car compared to $470 for a SUV, and in general the roads were quite passable for passenger cars on this trip. You wouldn't want to take one down the Ruby Road however.

First stop was a quick desert species primer at the Desert Botanical Garden ($18) where I hadn't banked on the many people who came out to his place on a weekday. Nevertheless got some staples like: Anna's and Costa's Hummingbirds, Curve-billed Thrasher, several Verdin, House Finch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Cactus Wren, Gambel's Quail, singing male Lesser Goldfinch as well as dirt birds like House Sparrow nesting in Saguaros and Mourning Dove. I did not find a roosting Western Screech-Owl but did track down what I suspect was the roost site. Turns out to be my first Costa's Hummingbird in over a decade. Nearby at Papago Park the ducks were tame, many Ring-necked Ducks and Northern Shoveler, one Hooded Merganser, one Canvasback, one Redhead, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, American Coot, Green Heron, Snowy Egret, Red-winged Blackbird and Great-tailed Grackle, Northern Mockingbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's), Gila Woodpecker and Gilded Flicker. Neotropic and Double-crested Cormorant side by side on a roost. An Anna's Hummingbird was singing although not doing its display flight.

Having struck out at the low-odds chance at the owl I snagged an "easy" and not very interesting lifer at Encanto Park in Central Phoenix with fly-by Rosy-faced Lovebird (US #678) within 30 seconds although it took longer to find them perched in a palm tree. Also present were the ubiquitous Gila Woodpecker, Great-tailed Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds, European Starlings, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and an unexpected American Kestrel.

Then it was west to the Buckeye area, headed along Old Hwy 80 near Palo Verde I picked out a pale Ferruginous Hawk by color, flight style and overall structure. Turkey Vultures were seen mainly as individuals on this trip, with only a few kettles. Eurasian Collared-Doves were numerous in the agricultural areas.

At Baseline/Salome, the famous thrasher spot, I saw multiple Bendire's Thrashers and lots of sparrows: White-crowned, some Brewer's, several Sage Sparrows (these likely my second-ever sightings of Sage, the previous ones being in WY). [Note: Sage Sparrow was split in summer 2013 into Sagebrush Sparrow and Bell's Sparrow, with the former one the expected species wintering in much of AZ. A few Bell's might winter in this location too]. Additionally Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Verdin, Yellow-rumped Warbler. No Crissal or the target Le Conte's Thrashers. This was attempt #1. Nearby I had Red-tailed Hawk and Northern Harrier with my first Phainopepla for the trip along Salome Rd closer to the interstate as I cut north-west.

My destination for the night was a hotel in Lake Havasu City, which required a certain amount of driving along I-10 and more local roads after dark. The Knight's Inn was tucked away off the main drag but quite acceptable for its relatively low price. Staying in Parker would have made for a slightly shorter trip but the prices there were much higher.

Friday Feb 8th

I had stuck with my original plan for Bill Williams NWR despite the fact that the Nutting's Flycatcher was a no-show in recent days. This is a pretty rare flycatcher so was worth the gamble. At dawn at was at Site Six via the surreal route of driving over the old London Bridge (I was born in London). Site Six had a lot of water bird activity lots Common Merganser, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Mallard, American Coot, Redhead and a distant grebe that was Clark's/Western but not separable.

It was only 20 minutes of road miles from Lake Havasu City to Planet Ranch Road at Bill Williams NWR, plus two cautious miles along a decently graded and sometimes rocky Planet Ranch Road which parallels the Bill Williams River to the well-characterized spot. That area, where the cottonwoods and mesquites reached the road where it passed by some red cliffs, was beautiful and pretty birdy: Verdin, many Phainopepla, Curve-billed Thrasher, Orange-crowned Warbler, Canyon Wren (unlike many others these were quite watchable), Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Gila Woodpecker, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Cassin's Vireo, White-crowned Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, and a Red-tailed Hawk up-canyon. As "expected" no Nutting's Flycatcher but it was worth the gamble and not a bad way to start the main part of the trip.

At Bill Willams HQ and the nearby river bridge: Clark's and Western Grebes in a variety of plumages, many overlapping, but with a few blatant examples of one or the other species. Mostly Westerns. Also Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye (checked very carefully for Barrow's but none), Greater but no Lesser Scaup, Common Loon, Pacific Loon (I've seen few of these in the lower 48), Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Verdin, House Finch. I was fortunate with the single Pacific Loon which saved me from tracking back up to Lake Havasu City and Site 6 to find one.

The area at Parker Dam was comatose, and along the CA-AZ river I spied mainly Coot, Gadwall and a couple of Buffleheads. Down in Parker I saw my first Common Raven - easy enough to separate from Chihuahuan Raven here just by range.

My main target for the middle of the day was the Parker Valley due south of Parker. This valley was relatively quiet until I got down to the vicinity of Nez Road and then I found a field full of Horned Larks, cut west to look at a big blackbird flock (Yellow-headed, Brewer's, Red-winged), saw three fly-by Sandhill Cranes, then another blackbird flock with more Great-tailed Grackles. Over one irrigation ditch I had Black and Say's Phoebe and White-throated Swifts all in the same spot. Over at Nez Rd - a prior location for Mountain Plovers - I could turn up only a Vesper Sparrow. Red-tailed Hawk, Common Raven, American Kestrel and Turkey Vulture were the wide-spread raptors+vultures. Western Meadowlark and Sandhill Cranes were seen in the grassy fields south of Nez Rd.

After a bit of hard driving I got back to the Baseline-Salome area and first of all did a little rummaging around the local agricultural fields: Tundra Swans, Vermilion Flycatcher and Northern Mockingbird, Say's Phoebe, Killdeer, many Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons along Arlington Canal Road. At the thrasher spot itself: Brewer's/White-crowned/Sage Sparrows, Sage Thrasher (unexpected), Bendire's Thrasher, Loggerhead Shrike, Gambel's Quail and Say's Phoebe but no Le Conte's. That was attempt #2. The first two attempts were in the afternoon. Attempts three and four were in the early morning, which might be the trick.

The second failure to find the Thrasher led me to stay overnight in w. Phoenix at the Budget Inn (not recommended: noisy and front desk closed at 7pm) for a third attempt the following morning.

Saturday Feb 9th

I opted for dawn at two Le Conte's spots. The first was actually an eBird sighting not far from the interstate, where at dawn there was no thrasher song at all and precious little activity. Back at Baseline-Salome the usual mix seen on the last two visits, multiple Bendire's, at least two Sage Thrashers, plus a flock of American Pipits, Abert's Towhee. Only the Bendire's were singing. Finally, making the loop back up the open area I saw a Le Conte's (USA #679) and shortly thereafter saw the pair interacting. The male seemed to be singing so quietly that he was essentially inaudible but w/o competition and already paired perhaps there's no great need to sing. I even got a couple of pictures of them. This was attempt #3 and set me back one morning from a more ideal itinerary. Nevertheless this was the designated "Le Conte's Thrasher trip".

I dropped south on AZ-85 and west on I-8 toward Tucson, avoiding Phoenix and potential traffic issues that can plague this large metro area. In higher elevation spots there were many Saguaros and other cacti (Barrell Cactus, Cholla). I made a quick visit to the Tweedy Rd/Pretzer Rd area in the Santa Cruz flats in the middle of the day but didn't find much. Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, Common Raven, one Great Blue Heron, a few Horned Lark, Yellow-rumped (a mix of Audubons and Myrtle) and a few Say's Phoebes.

Instead I drove through Tucson, headed west on I-10 then south on AZ-83 over the eastern shoulder of the Santa Rita range. There was snow on the shaded north side of the hills, and when I stopped at Sonoita for a snack there was a snow shower. Sitting in the parking lot at Sonoita I had Eastern Meadowlark, Say's Phoebe, Vesper Sparrow, and an Abert's/Canyon Towhee. Because of the large distances involved this was getting on in the afternoon (3pm) and Patagonia-Sonoita Preserve closes at 4pm.

Patagonia-Sonoita Preserve the hosts were good at giving really explicit directions to the owl roost, but the owl itself was not so cooperative (it was seen earlier that day). What I did see was Common Raven, Mourning Dove, Lark Sparrow, American Robin, White-crowned Sparrow in what was a very brief visit since I wanted to spend more time at Patagonia Lake SP ($15) where as per the Visitor Center there were no recent reports of Ruddy Ground-Dove but Chipping Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Pyrrhuloxia, White-winged, Mourning Dove, blackbird flock (Great-tailed, Red-winged), Lesser Goldfinch, Orange-crowned Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

The weather here was relatively cold and only intermittently sunny. Along the birding trail I had multiple Ash-throated Flycatchers, a Gray Flycatcher ID'd by tail action, another "whit"-ing flycatcher that clearly wasn't a Gray (Dusky/Hammond's were candidates), Bridled Titmouse, Gila/Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Bewick's Wren, Song Sparrow, Say's Poebe, and a distressingly invisible Gnatcatcher with non-Blue-gray call (although see later re: the call issue). On the lake: Double-crested Cormorant, American Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, Gadwall.

I made a near-sunset foray along Harshaw Canyon Road into the San Rafael Grasslands - the last four miles of that pass are dirt but drivable, then you crest out into a spectacular overlook of the grassy San Rafael Valley. I'd left it too late in the day to really see anything but the first thing I did put my eyes on was a Short-eared Owl, then a few Northern Harriers most of which were on the ground for the night. I didn't find the Rough-legged Hawk or the longspurs but this valley, aside from being a beautiful place and deserves a longer visit. The route via Patagonia and Harshaw Canyon is pretty direct, which is certainly NOT how I'd describe the route out of the north-east side of San Rafael. I spent 10+ miles on dirt road followed by 16 twisty miles on AZ-83 before I finally got to Sonoita. Do yourself a favor and exit via Harshaw Canyon instead.

I stayed overnight at an America's Best Value Inn at Sierra Vista, where I saw for the next two nights. I've found it possible with a little effort to find cheap locations that are superior to the Motel 6's that I sometimes inflict upon myself, and the former are almost invariably of better quality than the latter.

Sunday Feb 10th

Since Patagonia-Sonoita is closed Monday-Tuesday this was the last day I could visit here on this trip. The entrance fee ($5) covered both the previous day and Sunday. I got there at 7:45 and there was a pretty strong frost, apparently ~25 F. Savannah and Lark Sparrows were around the visitor center and while walking the trails I came up with Northern Cardinal, Pyrrhuloxia, House Wren, Bewick's Wren, Northern Flicker, Gila and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebird (call=confirmation, seen at distance), Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Robin, Green-tailed Towhee, Abert's Towhee, White-crowned and Song Sparrows, Lesser Goldfinch, Common Raven, Red-tailed Hawk, Accipiter sp. There was no owl looking out of the owl roost, perhaps because there was direct sunlight on it, and perhaps any smart owl prefers to be down in the hole rather than getting cold.

Back at Patagonia Lake SP ($15 again) the birding trail was slow but Pine Siskin was mixed in with the Lesser Goldfinch, Chipping Sparrow, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrow, Marsh Wren, Bewick's Wren, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, American Coot, Double-crested Cormorant, Blackbirds, Green-tailed Towhee, Phainopepla. I neither saw nor head any Gnatcatchers. I bumped into Alan Schmierer - a local experienced birder - who showed me the unoccupied owl roost tree and helped me search for Ruddy Ground-Doves. Turns out the doves were still around but extremely elusive and skittish. Since this seemed to be a bad bet I returned to Patagonia-Sonoita Creek where the sun was no longer on the roost hole and the Western Screech-Owl (USA #680) was sitting up and visible. Otherwise this third visit here had the same species plus two Black Vultures.

I hadn't visited the Paton's place in Patagonia in a number of years. The Paton's having both passed away and the house has been put on the market now but the feeders are still active). Chipping/White-crowned/White-throated Sparrows, a male Lazuli Bunting, Gila and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Acorn Woodpecker, Northern Cardinal, Mourning Dove, Inca Dove, White-winged Dove, Great-tailed Grackle, Abert's Towhee, Gambel's Quail and White-breasted Nuthatch. This wasn't a very productive place in terms of new species (the Lazuli was the only one I'd seen this trip) but historically the Paton's had netted me life birds and given a possible sale it might very well be that this was a last visit here.

The prospects of Ruddy Ground-Dove back at the lake seemed very low, so I decided to wrap around the Santa Rita's to Florida Canyon. There's no quick way to do this no matter which direction you go in, so I did it via Nogales. I tried to visit the De Anza Trail at Tubac but this was made effectively impossible by some sort of event happening in Tubac, so I continued on my way. I stopped in Sahuarita to visit a site where a lot of Lawrence's Goldfinches had been reported but the "park" was more sports fields rather than a small riverside park and I left here without birding in order to spend more time in the montane canyons. That's the limitation of mining eBird sightings - there's no context to these non-hotspot birding areas.

So after a bit of a schlep I made it to Green Valley and ascended to Florida Canyon which is one canyon east of Madera Cyn on the north face of the Santa Rita's. Here I found Hermit Thrush, Black-chinned Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, White-crowned Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird. Walking down the dirt road below the concrete stream crossing I made a momentarily exciting discovery of a vocal Gnatcatcher sp - it was a female, with white under the tail and no dark markings above the eye. The call was much deeper and burrier than the eastern Blue-grays I was used to so I thought it was a good candidate for Black-capped. The complication was the lack of obvious field marks - the bill looked blackish but was not startlingly long, the tail wasn't obviously graduated, the call was two note. More importantly the details of the tail feathers were impaired by the fact that it was below me at roadside most of the time. It's a lot easier if they're above you in the trees. It was going to be a judgement call, and one that was considerably complicated by not seeing any other Blue-grays that trip. That evening, by checking images on the web and xeno-canto for calls, it became obvious that while it had some pro-Black-capped features there was no reasonable way to be certain. The call, in particular, was problematic since Blue-gray change their calls regionally, and all Black-capped recordings I could find were single note not double note. Then again that call didn't match any western Blue-grays I could come up with. It went unidentified, not without some grinding of teeth on the matter of "it could be a life bird but I just can't tell". Apropos that a sighting of the Florida Cyn in early March was of a bird giving a one note call, so there's no strong indication "my" gnatcatcher wasn't just a Blue-gray.

At sunset I spent a very little time at Madera Canyon, finding only Hermit Thrush and White-crowned Sparrow before heading back to Sierra Vista for the night.

Monday Feb 11th

Monday I elected to try my luck at Whitewater Draw WA for Ruddy Ground-Dove there, and also because I had never visited the spot. The day started pretty cold (my hands were hurting before I fetched gloves from the car) and I arrived perhaps a little after the main Sandhill Crane departure. Hundreds of cranes were still present, however. Lots of waterfowl, mainly Northern Pintail but also Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Cinnamon Teal, 1 American Wigeon, Mallard. No Geese of any type were present. There were some shorebirds, with a few Long-billed Dowitchers, Least Sandpipers, a Wilsons Snipe, Greater Yellowlegs. Say's and Black Phoebe, and many MANY sparrows - mostly White-crowned, some Brewer's, Savannah, and Pyrrhuloxia. In addition a small flock of Lark Bunting, Western Meadlowlark, Curve-billed Thrasher, one Yellow-headedBlackbird, Common Yellowthroat. A decent showing by raptors included Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel. I made multiple careful passes along the weedy edges but came up with Mourning and Eurasian Collared-Dove and not any Ruddy Ground-Doves. This species had become irregular here of late although was still being seen through February. I did not see any Common Ground-Doves on this trip either.

Vesper Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow at Whitewater Draw

Headed north up the Sulfur Springs valley I saw the same aforementioned raptors, albeit in unimpressive numbers, and nothing else new save the massive Crane flocks that were circling over the local fields. Up around Apache power station near Willcox the area looked good for thrashers and saw 2 across the road, one of which looked good for Crissal but seen too briefly while driving to be certain.

Up near Willcox Playa more Sandhill Cranes were circling the fields - mostly seen on the west side of the Playa. At the golf course ponds: a Snow Goose family, Northern Shoveler, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck, American Wigeon, and multiple flocks of flighty Chestnut-collared Longspurs that came in to drink before headed back out into the grasslands. I could still hear, but not see, Sandhill Cranes from the ponds.

Whence once more to Florida Cyn where I found the same (?) gnatcatcher making the same call at the concrete stream crossing but still not a clear ID. Frustrating but by this point I had accepted the inherent ambiguity. I note that there don't seem to have been subsequent Black-capped reports from Florida Cyn (reported March 2nd). Attempts to record the call weren't successful. Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Pine Siskin, Lesser Goldfinch, Black-chined Sparrow, Rock Wren, Abert's Towhee, Brown Creeper and Mexican Jay made for a fuller list than the previous day. The low rain-bearing clouds that filled the area around Tucson caught up with me and it started snowing fairly hard so I exited Florida Cyn and went to Madera Cyn where it was actually worse and snowing as far down as Florida Wash. Nothing at the top of the cyn, but I parked below Santa Rita Lodge and made the short hike up to the feeders in the middle of this snow storm where I found huddling Wild Turkeys, Mexican Jay, Yellow-eyed Juncto, Dark-eyed Junco, Chipping Sparrow, Northern Flicker, Acorn Woodpecker but missed the Hepatic Tanager and Arizona Woodpecker reported from here. I think Patagonia got about 2 inches of snow on the afternoon/evening of the 11th. There also seem to have been two more snowfalls in the week or two following that so in some ways I was luckier with the weather than it seemed at the time.

I exited the Santa Ritas in heavy snowfall (wet snow at lower elevations, icier snow at the top of the canyon) and went on to Tucson where it was merely raining. I battled road construction and a little Tucson rush-hour traffic to get to Sweetwater Wetlands - Sora (one seen, one more whinnying), American Coot, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal (several), Black-necked Stilt, Ruddy Duck (1 male in breeding plumage, oddly), Gambel's Quail, Verdin, Song Sparrow, Marsh Wren (grayish), Common Yellowthroat and a distant Harris's Hawk. There was also a thin and limping Coyote keeping its distance from me here. There were hundreds of Northern Shovelers in flight along the river and in the larger retention ponds along the south side of Sweetwater. I think they outnumbered all the other species of ducks put together.

In my last stop in the Tucson area, at Ina Rd bridge - the river-side trail was closed for construction, epitomizing what a pain in the neck this trip had become. Birding from the walkway along the bridge both ssp of Yellow-rumped Warbler were fly-catching, a Belted Kingfisher, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Lincoln's and Song Sparrow, Red-tailed Hawk, no goldfinches of any type - I was looking for Lawrence's in particular.

I headed north to the Phoenix area and stayed at a Motel 6 in west Phoenix that reinforced my dissatisfaction with that chain of late. It was a little drier around Phoenix although some truckers were discussing difficult snowy conditions up in the mountains.

Tuesday Feb 12th

On the last day's birding I opted for some sparrow photography and scoping out water birds on the Buckeye-Arlington axis. At Baseline/Salome there was a decent frost on the ground and birds were initially subdued before the hoar frost started dripping from the creosote bushes as the sun came up. While I got the usual suspects here, photography wasn't a success. I saw: Le Conte's (2), Bendires (1) and Crissal (1) Thrashers (Sage was apparently present), White-crowned/Brewer's/Sage Sparrows, Abert's Towhee, Horned Lark, American Pipit, Loggerhead Shrike. I bumped into Tommy DeBardeleben et al who I spent a little time birding with here. I found a perched up Le Conte's and a perched up Crissal so ironically I had particularly good Thrasher karma that morning. Perhaps it was the cold temperatures but there was very little song on this morning.

On the nearby fields I had a variety of other birds including: many GB Heron and Gt Egret along Arlington Canal Rd, three Bald Eagles, multiple Red-tailed Hawks (including one dark western type), Northern Harriers, one Merlin, two Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Northern Shoveler, Mallard and American Coot. Some possible Tree Swallows were seen over one pond. In one flooded field on the Buckeye side there were many Killdeer, a few tens of White-faced Ibis, some Least Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs and American Pipits. Nearby a Snowy Egret and two Coyotes crossing a field. The Tundra Swans were AWOL and I had none of the more exotic hawks but a Burrowing Owl near Palo Verde made up for that. That was one of the last birds of the trip and pretty decent half-day of birding, albeit one that covered the same area that I had covered before.

Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl

The return trip to EWR on South West Airlines was pretty good, by comparison, and despite the shorter scheduled time eastbound they still arrived early. It's been a long while since I've had a generally positive experience flying and I hope this was a general trend with South West - I'd like to fly them more often in future.

Trip List

Pacific Loon Gavia pacifica Bill Williams NWR
Common Loon Gavia immer Bill Williams NWR
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps
Eared Grebe Podiceps nigricollis Bill Williams NWR
Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis Bill Williams NWR
Clark's Grebe Aechmophorus clarkii Bill Williams NWR
Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus in low numbers throughout
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias especially Buckeye-Arlington
Great Egret Ardea alba especially Buckeye-Arlington
Snowy Egret Egretta thula Papago Park, Buckeye
Green Heron Butorides virescens Papago Park
White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi Buckeye
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus Patagonia
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Snow Goose Chen caerulescens Willcox
Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus Arlington
Gadwall Anas strepera
American Wigeon Anas americana Whitewater, Willcox, Sweetwater
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Blue-winged Teal Anas discors Santa Cruz River at Ina Rd Bridge
Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera Whitewater Draw, Sweetwater
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
Northern Pintail Anas acuta Whitewater Draw, Sweetwater
Green-winged Teal Anas crecca Whitewater Draw, Sweetwater
Canvasback Aythya valisineria scattered individuals
Redhead Aythya americana
Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris
Greater Scaup Aythya marila Bill Williams NWR
Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis Patagonia Lake SP
Bufflehead Bucephala albeola Parker River, Patagonia SP
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula Bill Willams NWR
Hooded Merganser Lophodytes cucullatus Papago Park
Common Merganser Mergus merganser Bill Willams NWR
Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus Buckeye/Palo Verde
Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus
Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus Ina Rd bridge
Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii Sulfur Springs Valley
Harris's Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus Sweetwater Wetlands
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
Ferruginous Hawk Buteo regalis Palo Verde
American Kestrel Falco sparverius
Merlin Falco columbarius Arlington
Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo Madera Cyn
Gambel's Quail Callipepla gambelii
Sora Porzana carolina Sweetwater Wetlands
Common Gallinule Gallinula galeata Sweetwater Wetlands
American Coot Fulica americana
Sandhill Crane Antigone canadensis Parker Valley, Whitewater Draw/Sulfur Springs Valley
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus Sweetwater Wetlands
Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca Whitewater Draw
Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes Buckeye
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla Buckeye, Whitewater Draw
Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus Whitewater Draw
Wilson's Snipe Gallinago delicata Whitewater Draw
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis Bill Williams NWR
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto
White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica Patagonia Lake SP
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Inca Dove Columbina inca Patagonia/Paton's
Western Screech-Owl Otus kennicottii Patagonia-Sonoita Creek
Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia Palo Verde
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus San Rafael Valley
White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatalis Parker Valley
Anna's Hummingbird Calypte anna
Costa's Hummingbird Calypte costae Desert Museum
Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon Ina Rd bridge
Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus Patagonia/Paton's, Madera Cyn
Gila Woodpecker Melanerpes uropygialis
Ladder-backed Woodpecker Picoides scalaris
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus Patagonia-Sonoita Creek
Gilded Flicker Colaptes chrysoides Papago Park
Gray Flycatcher Empidonax wrightii Patagonia Lake SP
Black Phoebe Sayornis nigricans Parker Valley
Say's Phoebe Sayornis saya
Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus Buckeye
Ash-throated Flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens Patagonia Lake SP
Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus Buckeye, Florida Cyn
Cassin's Vireo Vireo cassinii Bill Williams NWR
Mexican Jay Aphelocoma wollweberi Madera Cyn, Florida Cyn
Common Raven Corvus corax Parker Valley
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris Parker Valley
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis Bill Williams NWR, Ina Rd bridge
Bridled Titmouse Baeolophus wollweberi Patagonia Lake SP, Patagonia-Sonoita
Verdin Auriparus flaviceps
Brown Creeper Certhia americana Florida Cyn
Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus Desert Museum
Rock Wren Salpinctes obsoletus Florida Cyn
Canyon Wren Catherpes mexicanus Bill Williams NWR
Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii
House Wren Troglodytes aedon Patagonia-Sonoita Creek
Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris Patagonia Lake SP, Sweetwater Wetlands
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher Polioptila melanura
Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis Patagonia-Sonoita Creek
Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus Florida Cyn, Madera Cyn
American Robin Turdus migratorius Patagonia-Sonoita Preserve
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
Sage Thrasher Oreoscoptes montanus Baseline-Salome
Bendire's Thrasher Toxostoma bendirei Baseline-Salome
Curve-billed Thrasher Toxostoma curvirostre
Crissal Thrasher Toxostoma crissale Baseline-Salome
Le Conte's Thrasher Toxostoma lecontei Baseline-Salome
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
American Pipit Anthus rubescens Baseline-Salome
Phainopepla Phainopepla nitens
Orange-crowned Warbler Oreothlypis celata Bill Williams NWR, Patagonia
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas Whitewater Draw, Sweetwater Wetlands
Yellow-rumped Warbler Setophaga coronata
Green-tailed Towhee Pipilo chlorurus
Abert's Towhee Melozone aberti Baseline-Salome
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina Patagonia Lake SP
Brewer's Sparrow Spizella breweri Buckeye, Whitewater
Black-chinned Sparrow Spizella atrogularis Florida Cyn
Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus Parkey Valley
Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus Patagonia-Sonoita
Sage Sparrow Artemisiospiza belli Buckeye
Lark Bunting Calamospiza melanocorys Whitewater Draw
Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis Patagonia-Sonoita Creek
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia Patagonia Lake SP
Lincoln's Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii Bill Williams NWR
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis Patagonia
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis Florida Cyn, Madera Cyn
Yellow-eyed Junco Junco phaeonotus Madera Cyn
Chestnut-collared Longspur Calcarius ornatus Willcox
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis Patagonia
Pyrrhuloxia Cardinalis sinuatus Patagonia Lake SP
Lazuli Bunting Passerina amoena Patagonia/Paton's
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna Sonoita
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta
Yellow-headed Blackbird Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus Parker Valley
Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus
Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus
House Finch Haemorhous mexicanus
Pine Siskin Carduelis pinus Patagonia
Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
143 species, which is at the lower limit of a typical TX winter trip. Minus the Bill Williams NWR side-trip the list would be ~10 species less. Near-misses include Tree Swallow, the Gnatcatcher sp, Chihuahuan Raven (which I likely saw).