A little over ten days ago, my grandfather, Jim Orrico and I arrived home after an eleven-day birding adventure in Southeastern Arizona. I had been greatly anticipating this trip as my Arizona trip last year had to be cancelled due to treatment.
Our plan was to bird the Tucson area (including the Santa Catalinas and Aravaipa Canon) and the Santa Ritas before moving on to Patagonia and Sierra Vista then on to the Huachucas (Miller, Ash Canyon, etc.) and finally hitting the eastern end of the Chiricahuas before returning back to Tucson.
Our itinerary and birding were greatly effected by the fires that had occurred this summer across the Chiricahuas and Huachucas. Many areas remained off-limits and a number more had been washed out due to the fires. We would only miss one major bird from these circumstances, however and still pulled together many of our targets.
Our itinerary went like this:
July 16: Arrived in Tucson and hit one of the suburban “oasis”
July 17: Hit Miller Canyon in the Santa Ritas and then moved south to California Gulch
July 18: Tubac area and then back to the Santa Ritas (Miller and Montosa Canyon)
July 19: De Anza Tail in Tubac before moving up to Aravaipa Canyon and finally hitting the back end of the Santa Catalinas via Oroco Road and the Summerhaven area
July 20: Another stint on the De Anza Trail and at Montosa Canyon before moving onto Rio Rico and the famous Patagonia spots
July 21: Hit Mary Jo Ballator’s Ash Canyon B and B before moving on to the Ramsey Canyon Preserve and then back to Mary Jo’s
July 22: San Pedro House, the Beatty’s feeders (Miller Canyon) and the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek sanctuary
July 23: Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Sanctuary, Willcox Playa and Portal and environs
July 24: Portal and other locations on the Eastern Slope of the Chiris
July 25: Road F42A, roads around Rodeo, NM, Willcox Playa, McCormick Park and the Sweetwater Wetlands
July 26: Fort Huachuca (Scheelite Canyon), Madera Canyon and the Sweetwater Wetlands
July 27: Santa Catalinas, flight home
In terms of the weather, we enjoyed sunshine every day with thunderstorms in the afternoons appearing on some days. The temps were very dependent on where we were. For example, the temperature at the base of the Santa Catalinas (near Tucson) was around one-hundred mid-day while meanwhile, up in Summerhaven at the same time, the temp stood at 64. Just shows how the weather (and birding) are really effected by elevation!
All in all it was a fantastic trip. We were able to rope in a few of our targets with just a couple notable misses. Some surprises also appeared and we enjoyed many wonderful experiences with just singular birds. Because I’ve never been farther west in the US than the Dry Tortugas, many of the common western birds were lifers for me and added to the fun and excitement of the trip.
I’ll be posting all of the trip highlights in a day-to-day type format during the next week. Stay tuned!