Friday, July 24, 2015

Coronado Cuckoos Part 2

By Matt Griffiths

My second week of Yellow-billed Cuckoo surveys for Tucson Audubon was just about as exciting as the first week! More adventures in the wilds of southeast Arizona.

The first survey took place in Pima Canyon on the southwest corner of the Catalinas. Not quite the proper habitat for cuckoos, but we gave it the old college try. We hiked deep into the canyon, survived a small wasp attack, found a bunch of great birds and got out of there before the heat did a number on us.

The look back from deep in Pima Canyon

Grinding holes in Pima Canyon

The next survey trip took the teams to the Patagonia mountains, which never disappoint. My team was doing the Flying R Ranch transect (eBird list), on which we refound the one cuckoo from the previous round. We didn't turn up any others in this wet drainage, but we did chase a coati up and down a few trees! We also had pretty good responses to our playback from a couple of Elegant Trogons. Might there be some resource competition between these two species? We wonder.

Coati up to no good

Huge mushroom coming right out of the tree

Flying R Ranch meadow

The final trip of the week took place in the Atascosa mountains, west of Rio Rico and Nogales. I was lucky enough to go into Rock Corral Canyon, a place I have heard about and wanted to explore for years! There is an incredible diversity and density of vegetation here, and plenty of water. No wonder the avian life responded in kind (eBird list). Also see Rich Hoyer's great blog post about this canyon.

We found one cuckoo and possibly a second on this humid, mostly overcast day. We had the feeling of being in a far-off land, tucked back in this very scenic and remote canyon. Varied Buntings, Gray Hawks, a couple of garter snakes and several Canyon Wrens were our companions, thanks to the very rough road keeping most people out.

Mexican Yellowshow was in bloom throughout the canyon

Tim and Olya take in the scene

A lush stand of oak dominates the upper reaches

A gaggle (?) of swallowtails

There are still more surveys that we need help with! Don't miss this opportunity to contribute and explore some great Sky Island territory to boot!
Check out the info here, , contact Jennie MacFarland, and we'll see you in the field!

1 comment:

  1. A puddle of Swallowtails or Swallowtails puddling.


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