John and I checked Amado sewage pond this morning (exit 48 off of I-19) and spotted a large sparrow flock on the opposite side of the pond from the frontage road. Hundreds of sparrows were joined by at least 1 DICKCISSEL pictured below.
1) Dickcissel at Amado Sewage Pond.
After this we headed near the town of Carmen on the Santa Cruz River and birded north, jumped the river, then south along the Santa Cruz for a few hours with nothing too exciting to report. A "Myrtle" Yellow-rumped Warbler was probably the rarest individual seen. At least 2 Hammond's Flycatchers were seen, one of which is pictured below.
2) A nice example of a Hammond's Flycatcher. Note almost completely dark lower mandible, nice eye ring, squared off back of the head, vested appearance, and the long-winged/short-tailed look typical of this species.
Next in line we checked out Santa Gertrudis Lane. After birding the river for 30 minutes and only finding one nice flock (including Painted Redstart, Hermit Thrush, Plumbeous Vireo, a lingering White-winged Dove) I was walking back down-river and kept flushing a raptor. On the third flush its identity was clear. A young COMMON BLACK-HAWK eventually flew over the trees and out of sight. There were also a couple of birders present on our walk back to the car that pointed out the VARIED THRUSH to us. The reported rufous-backed robin eluded us, unfortunately. Below are 2 examples of how even bad pictures can successfully yield correct identification.
3) Varied Thrush - although a fuzzy picture the "unmistakable" look of this bird is evident.
4) This image points out some aspects of this fleeting bird (sometimes that's all you get!) that might help you in case you're in a similar situation. If you look closely at the photos you'll notice the arrows on the wing pointing to a white flash at the base of the primaries as well as a white patch from the base of the tail to the sub-terminal black band. These traits are all good things to look for when differentiating other young raptors that one might confuse this with in a similar habitat in SEAZ (gray hawk, zone-tailed hawk), though these traits are also evident on Great Black-Hawk (you never know!) in case you're in that fortunate situation.