Ten days ago (17 December) I found myself with some extra time after biological surveys near Desert Center, CA and decided to literally "take a hike." Taking a quick scan of DeLorme's California Atlas & Gazetteer, I noticed two tiny canyons in the southeast corner of the Eagle Mountains that were named. I decided that since the rest of the drainages in the area were unnamed, there must be something worthwhile in Difficult and Boulder Canyons. (They turned out to be fairly broad, ironwood-lined drainages with a heavy dose of geologic scenery! And yes, Difficult Canyon looked difficult to climb past a certain point...but I would argue just as bouldery as Boulder Canyon.)
On my way out of the canyon(s) at 3:00pm, having found some interesting plants (but not much in the way of birds) I heard a bizarre screaming call that sounded vaguely bird-like. When I tracked down the source of the call, it proved to be a DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer). As I spent more time with the bird, the calls mellowed out into relatively "normal" Dusky-capped sounds, and I managed a few photos. If accepted by the California Bird Records Committee, it seems this will be only the second record for Riverside County - although a quick search online yields 55 accepted records in the last 16 years for all of California, so it's not what I would call a "mega" rarity. Still, a very fun bird to find on a random desert canyon hike!
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|Note relatively thin bill, fairly bright yellow (chest to vent), and rufous secondaries.|
|Seems to be a hatch year bird based on the amount of rufous in the edges of the remiges (dorsally). Apologies for the darkness of this photo; due to poor manipulation during cropping in an outdated photo editing program...|
|The clincher: no rufous in tail, ventrally.|