Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Great Day to be Outside

By mid-morning a gentle southeast breeze slid up the north end of the Tucson mountains, creating an updraft along the mountains' east face. The first bird I saw soaring along the ridge was a Prairie Falcon.

It would turn out to be a fun day of work at the gravel pits off Coachline Road, where Tucson Audubon has planted some native vegetation to enhance the area for wildlife. The morning consisted of three intense watering sessions and time between to do other tasks. When Rodd Lancaster, our Field Supervisor, brought a full tank of water on the water trailer, we would fire up the pump and run from plant to plan giving them a good soaking. Then, while Rodd was away filling up the tank, I would drag deadwood around the areas we planted to discourage off-road drivers from running over them.

During these times I couldn't help but keep an eye on the ridge, where I had seen lots of raptors in the past.

Soon there was not only the Prairie Falcon, but two Red-tailed Hawks and a raven--all in the same binocular view!

This was on top of birds swirling around our worksite. House Finches and Lesser Goldfinches sang lustily. Brilliant Vermilion Flycatchers lit up the trees.

Later, when I looked up again, five Red-tailed Hawks now soared about the rocky ridge. A couple of White-throated Swifts also dodged around the rocky hill at one end of the ridge.

After some more work, and several more glances west toward the ridge, I was rewarded by the hit of the day. A Common Black-Hawk circled lazily on the updrafts along the ridge, making its way a little farther north with each pass.

Later I also saw an Eastern Phoebe, probably one that had been seen several times in this area but that hasn't been reported recently.

Kendall Kroesen
Habitats Program Manager

PS. This location is known among birders as the Coachline Gravel Pits. In other circles it's called the Marana Borrow Pits, the El Rio Open Space, or the Marana Rock Disc Golf Course. It is reached by going east from I-10 on Twin Peaks Road, turning right on Coachline Road, and then turning right on a dirt road just past a small, walled wastewater treatment plant. Go to where it ends at the berm and walk over the berm to the north.

1 comment:

  1. Nice sightings! Great rewards for all the hard work!


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