Black-capped Gnatcatcher and Black-and-White Warbler at Cienega Creek Preserve 11/27/2009
I decided to bird the Cienega Creek Preserve, east of Tucson, this morning. This is a fantastic location with some permanent surface flow, towering cottonwoods, willows, mesquites, ash, and hackberry groves. Many riparian breeders including Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Gray Hawks and Summer Tanagers call this their summer home. It is also fantastic for migrants and the occasional vagrant. After a slow fall season here, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a Black-capped Gnatcatcher at the "Three Bridge" area along the creek-- likely a first record for this location. With a little persistence I was able to lay eyes on this rare, but increasing sprite from the south. Unfortunately, I was unable to obtain photos. Next time! This might be the same suspicious gnatcatcher we observed on the Arizona Field Ornithologist's field expedition I led out here in October. Even with several looks then, we were unable to clinch the identification. The distinctive vocalization would have helped that day! If you look for this bird, please note that there is also a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in the area. I also stumbled onto a Black-and-white Warbler with a small mixed species flock, also near the "Three Bridge" location. The only other species of note was a lingering Western Tanager. A free permit is required to access this site. Please see http://www.pima.gov/nrpr/trails/davidson/index.htm for more information.
Jake Mohlmann and John Yerger are professional bird guides with the Adventure Birding Company. We thought this would be a great way to share some of our bird sightings and other natural history experiences!
For more information about Adventure Birding Company and our bird tours in Arizona and elsewhere, see our website at www.adventurebirding.com.