Friday, September 11, 2015

Pena Blanca Canyon Biodiversity

Tucson Audubon Field Trip Report by Tim Helentjaris

This morning (Sept. 8, 2015) I led a Tucson Audubon field trip to both Pena Blanca Canyon and the nearby Lake, ostensibly to look for the recent sightings of Rufous-capped Warblers and Green Kingfisher.  Not surprisingly, we dipped on both of these, they haven’t been reported for several days, but we did find some other nice birds.

Male Elegant Trogon with juvenile by Pete Baum

In Pena Blanca Canyon, we walked a little over a mile in and just past the RcWa stake-out spot.  Got many of the expected birds for the oak-grassland habitat in this somewhat open drainage, DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER, HUTTONS VIREO, BRIDLED TITMOUSE, etc.  On our way back out, we watched a pair of ELEGANT TROGONS (a male and a juvenile) actively feeding in a sycamore tree for some time.  Seemed to be a pulse of WILSONS WARBLERS moving through as the most common warbler with several feeding in some different sycamores.  Also picked up BLACK-THROATED GRAY and ORANGE0-CROWNED WARBLERS as well as a PAINTED REDSTART.  Watched a presumed PEREGRINE FALCON soaring with some TURKEY VULTURES high over head.  Also GRAY HAWKS and a young RED-TAILED HAWK complaining loudly from a cliff.

At the lake, walking around the southern end, we observed two YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS a couple of times, actively feeding along the lake. The first time, I spotted them in literally the same tree I saw them feeding young in on Sept 19 of last year! Again saw both WILSONS and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS there as well, but a late season LUCYS WARBLER was a nice find near the picnic ground as we ate some lunch.  No Green Kingfisher but did refind a BELTED KINGFISHER flying around the south end.

Barn Owl by Dan Weisz

On the way back, shorts stops around Rio Rico produced a BARN OWL and several BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING DUCKS at the nearby pond, now becoming seriously dry.

Here are some of the great sightings from the day.

By Pete Baum

Green Heron by Pete Baum

Black-tailed rattlesnake by Dan Weisz

Lucy's Warbler by Pete Baum

Morning glory by Dan Weisz

Black-tailed rattlesnake by Dan Weisz

Black-tailed rattlesnake by Deanna Mac Phail

Canyon tree frog by Dan Weisz

Widow skipper by Dan Weisz

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