With one last day of birding before our flight home late that night, it was time for my dad and I to do our best to nail down a few of our remaining target species. Our plan for the day included visiting the nearby Hassayampa River Preserve for our final opportunities for Red-naped Sapsucker and Cassin’s Vireo, before returning to Phoenix for its now countable exotic species.
Starting at Hassayampa a little later than usual, we spent nearly three hours birding this beautiful and unique location, notching twenty-nine species. And guess what?! We missed the vireo and sapsucker again. Now, I understand that Cassin’s Vireo is a difficult species to see in Arizona, but Red-naped Sapsucker?? C’mon now! That species is described as a “fairly common winter visitor” in A Birder’s Guide to Southeastern Arizona, and the eBird reports show it. Our missing of this species was saddening, but just like with the Ferruginous Hawk and Prairie Falcon, I will be back (sinister voice implied).
There were definitely some great birds around the preserve, though, including: Anna’s Hummingbird, Gilded Flicker, Say’s Phoebe, Vermillion Flycatcher, Bell’s Vireo, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Verdin, Hermit Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, Orange-crowned, Lucy’s, Yellow, Yellow-rumped and Wilson’s Warblers, Abert’s Towhee and two awesome Lawrence’s Goldfinch.
After our visit to the preserve, we made our way back to Phoenix for our last birding stop of the trip: Encanto Park.
This location, in the heart of urban Phoenix, is one of the best spots for Rosy-faced Lovebird, a now-countable exotic species, established throughout the Greater Phoenix Area. It didn’t take us long to locate a group of eight of these charismatic psittacids, moving about the palms and other trees on one of the park lawns, some preening and others inspecting possible nesting locations.
Native urban fare at Encanto included Gila Woodpecker and American Kestrel.
After our time with the lovebirds, we headed for our last dinner in Arizona, before our drive to the airport for our long flight home.
In short, this trip was a great success. Despite some frustrating misses, we ended up recording 210 species on a whirlwind nine days split between California and Arizona, my highest trip list total ever. Along the way, we got to enjoy some awesome birds, as well as beautiful locations, and enjoyed a wonderful week together, the vast majority of it spent alone.
Our misses give my dad and I some terrific reasons to return, which we plan on doing, sooner than later…