Courtesy James P. Smith
Birdfinders' 2010 Arizona tour was a fabulous success. Our group enjoyed a comfortable trip with the cooling effect of the mid-summer monsoon much in evidence throughout. The tour record of 249 species set in 2008 was not challenged, but instead we enjoyed excellent, often prolonged views of most of the key species for Arizona.
The raptors were particularly outstanding with 18 species recorded including California Condor, Bald Eagle, Mississippi Kite, Northern Goshawk, Harris's, Grey, Zone-tailed and Short-tailed Hawks, and Prairie Falcon. Indeed, we were privileged to have breathtakingly close views of a juvenile Short-tailed Hawk over Barfoot Lookout in the Chiricahuas, a bird studied (by researchers) as a nestling only days early. This species is now being proven to breed in SE Arizona, albeit in very small numbers.
Perhaps more frequently associated with Arizona are the hummingbirds and we did incredibly well with a haul of thirteen species, many of them rare and restricted to the south-east part of the state. Amongst these, Berylline, Broad-billed, Lucifer, White-eared, Violet-crowned, Magnificent, Blue-throated and Costa's offered some of the most exciting birding of the tour. We even saw a remarkable hybrid between Lucifer and Anna's Hummingbirds at Ash Canyon near Sierra Vista.
Scaled Quail, Elegant Trogon, (Mexican) Spotted Owl, Gilded Flicker, Arizona and Gila Woodpeckers, Buff-breasted, Cordilleran, Grey and Dusky-capped and Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers, Northern Beardless Tyranulett, Greater Pewee, Thick-billed Kingbird, Crissal Thrasher, Mexican Chickadee, Mexican Jay, Grey Vireo, Lucy's, Olive and Grace's Warblers, Painted Redstart, Red-faced Warbler, Hepatic Tanager, Yellow-eyed Junco, Five-striped, Botterri's and Rufous-winged Sparrows, and Varied Bunting would also feature during the tour as range restricted species difficult or impossible to see anywhere other than Arizona.
Despite the avian focus of the tour, it was impossible to ignore the beauty of the scenery in Arizona. Once we left the giant urban sprawl of Phoenix, stunning scenes accentuated by spectacular electrical storms accompanied us throughout the tour. From the 'Sky Islands' to the White Mountains near New Mexico, through the enchantment of the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert and then onto a finale at the Grand Canyon, the landscape was simply awesome. Some of these scenes are depicted below. Enjoy!
James P. Smith, Gill, Massachusetts, USA