Monday, September 21, 2015

Tucson Audubon Field Trip Report: Oracle State Park

Report by leaders Bob and Prudy Bowers

Fifteen birders joined us this morning for a 2-hour ramble birding easy trails in this beautiful but strangely under-appreciated state park. 42 species recorded between yesterday's check-out walk and today's official trip. Sweeping vistas from the Granite Overlook trail, and somewhat elusive but occasionally cooperative birds in this 4,300-foot oak/juniper habitat. Highlights from today's 32 species included a pair of Harris's Hawks, Bell's and Hutton's Vireo, 6 Western Scrub-Jays, Bridled Titmouse, 9 Bushtits, 3 species of wren, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, our 'first of season' White-crowned Sparrows (down from Alaska), Green-tailed Towhees and 18 Phainopeplas. The complete checklists for both today's field trip and our check-out walk the day before are listed below.

Note also that we have had a male Hooded Oriole at our home hummingbird feeders the last few days. He looks a lot like 'Gray Head', the hardy oriole that stopped by in September, 2010 and refused to continue to Mexico with his cousins, staying through the 'hundred year winter' until the other orioles returned in March. We'll keep you posted if he winters over again.

Our next field trip is tentatively planned for Peppersauce Canyon on October 1. This 5,000-foot location is a few miles beyond Oracle State Park on the Mt. Lemmon road that climbs the back side of the mountain.

Male Phainopepla, one of 18 silky flycatchers seen today
The Rock Wren
Lots of Western Scrub-Jays in Oracle State Park, too
Great group of birders on a grand Arizona morning
Our Harris's Hawks this morning were on trees and power poles, but they're
tougher than cactus, too.

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