Florida Canyon, 10 and 12 May 2009

Russell Graham and I spent the last morning of our 3-day tour in Florida Canyon. Since we had so much success with our other targets on the first two days - Five-striped Sparrow, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Spotted Owl, etc - we decided to kill some time searching for an unconfirmed Aztec Thrush. While we didn't find anything quite that rare, we did enjoy splendid views of the continuing Rufous-capped Warblers.

Rufous-capped Warbler (Basileuterus rufifrons)

Russell and I saw the pair at least twice by waiting quietly in the streambed to see what else was passing through. Morgan Jackson and I employed the same technique on May 12, with even greater success. The best way to locate these birds (as with most songbirds, really) is to be very familiar with the song and call notes. While sometimes the birds simply appear in front of you - in our cases, at arms length - they are most often first detected aurally. Every hour or so, we would hear one giving its distinctive, even-toned tik-tik-tik-tik-tik call.

There are plenty of other neat things to see while waiting for the birds. Morgan and I observed a few Giant Water Bugs, including one that had egg sacs all over its back (couldn't get a photo of that one, though).

Giant Water Bug

We also enjoyed a splendidly camoflauged Canyon Tree Frog. They blend in very well with the mottled gray rocks, as you can see from this image.

Canyon Tree Frog (Hyla arenicolor)

Plenty of other "herps" are out, too, including this lovely Sonoran Whipsnake which rapidly retreated to a short nearby mesquite.

Sonoran Whipsnake (Masticophis bilineatus)

Over in Madera Canyon on both days, the loudly singing and gaudy colored Flame-colored Tanager was a treat (as always), but the more subtly plumaged birds are really neat to watch, too. Russell and I were surprised to see this Arizona Woodpecker suddenly disappear into a nest hole!

Arizona Woodpecker (Picoides arizonae) at nest, Madera Canyon

Good birding (and herping and insecting),
John Yerger
Tucson, AZ

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