Friday, October 15, 2010

Birding the Santa Cruz River at the Santa Fe Ranch

Tucson Audubon Field Trip Report
By Robin Baxter

Hello all, On Saturday Oct. 9 ten participants and I made the first Tucson Audubon Society field trip to the Santa Fe Ranch north of Nogales, and Las Lagunas, a wetland in the north end of Nogales. This was an introductory tour to let the birding community know about these excellent locations.

Santa Cruz River
The Santa Fe Ranch is on North River Road off of Hwy.82. It is a private working cattle ranch owned and operated by the Santa Fe Ranch Foundation. It is not only operated as a cattle ranch but also as an outdoor educational facility. There are restrooms, picnic tables, a butterfly and hummingbird garden, and a nature trail available to the public.

Las Lagunas is on Country Club Drive just off of Grand Ave. at the north end of Nogales. Long time local birders used to know it as the "drive-in pond". It is also owned by the Santa Fe Ranch and has just been officially opened to the public. A small area has been cleared of cattails and a short trail leads to the cienega edge. More cattail clearing to increase the open water, trails and boardwalks are planned for the future.

While both locations are open to the public the foundation does request that visitors call first. Not all of the ranch property is open to the public and there could be a chain across the entrance to Las Lagunas, so they would like some advance notice from visitors. If the chain is up at Las Lagunas you can still visit by parking across the street at the St. Andrew's Church and just step over the chain. There are no facilities at Las Lagunas.

The Santa Fe Ranch is on the Santa Cruz River(bed) making it good birding habitat, and as Las Lagunas is developed it will become more user friendly and is the best wetland cienega associated with the Santa Cruz River. It was also the first camp within the U.S. used by Juan Bautista de Anza on his expedition to colonize San Francisco in 1775.

The ranch foundation was pleased to have Tucson Audubon bring a group there and they look forward to birders visiting in the future. Here is a list of the birds we saw, which only barely hints at what may be found at these sites:

Gray Hawk by Mark Sharon
Turkey Vulture
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Gray Hawk
American Kestrel
Sora - Heard only.
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Mourning Dove
Common Ground-Dove
Broad-billed Hummingbird
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird
Rufous Hummingbird
Gila Woodpecker
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Gray Flycatcher
Dusky Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Say's Phoebe
Vermilion Flycatcher
Dusky Flycatcher by Mark Sharon
Cassin's Kingbird - Heard only.
Common Raven
Bewick's Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
Curve-billed Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Summer Tanager - Heard only.
Green-tailed Towhee
Canyon Towhee
Abert's Towhee
Lark Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Lazuli Bunting
Lazuli Bunting by Mark Sharon
Cedar Waxwing By Mark Sharon
Common Ground Dove by Mark Sharon
Rufous Hummingbird by Mark Sharon

Red-winged Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
Lesser Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Number of Species: 49

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