[Tweeters] streeked back

Larry Schwitters lpatters at ix.netcom.com
Thu Nov 23 18:13:38 PST 2006

Author: AJ
  Date:   11-20-06 10:08

Hello Everyone,

  I just returned from a long weekend in the Phoenix area with a 
  trip to Patagonia Lake State Park and San Rafael Valley Grasslands on
  November 18 and an impromptu visit to the Hassayampa River Preserve on
  the afternoon of the 19th (after discovering my flight was later than

  On November 18, I awoke early and drove to the Patagonia area to arrive
  at the beginning of the Sonoita Creek Trail by 7:10am. Around 8:15 I
  found at least a pair of Black-capped Gnatcatchers near the first bench
  before the first wash near the beginning of the trail. They were 
  low in the trees and often right on the ground- I had them nearly at my
  feet several times during the 45 minutes I followed them. The soft
  mewing calls initially caught my attention, but both birds were very
  distinctive when compared to several Blue-gray Gnatcatchers seen and
  heard early further down the trail. The female of the pair was most
  cooperative- she constantly flirted her more strongly graduated tail 
  the mostly white outer feathers were easy to see. She was in nice fresh
  plumage with the brownish wash of her back and buffy sides very
  apparent. The longer bill was also noted. The male seemed a deeper
  grayish blue lacking most of the brown tones of his mate and had a bit
  of black above the eye. He seemed to have an even longer bill than the
  female. One other bird of note nearby was a Gray Flycatcher calling and
  feeding at the top of the first wash.

  At 9:15am I tore myself away from the gnatcatchers and headed to San
  Rafael Valley. On FR58 I had one very quick look at a Baird’s Sparrow
  and that was the best I did with that species during my visit to the
  area. Savannah Sparrows were pretty much everywhere and a few Vesper
  Sparrows were seen further east in the valley. Eastern (Lillian’s)
  Meadowlark were present with at least 5 birds seen including a few
  singing. A White-tailed Kite flew over me as I passed the corral (with
  the no birding sign) - I watched it from the car as I slowly drove east
  without stopping. Harriers and Horned Larks were common on the
  grassland. And I had a troop of Mexican Jays on the way up to the

  I made it to the Gilbert Water Ranch by 2pm. 15 Peach-faced Lovebirds
  feeding on acacia seed pods both in the trees and on the ground greeted
  me near the South Restroom. I was at the tree ladened with oranges at
  the start of Whistling Duck Way by 2:15. At 2:25 the Streak-backed
  Oriole showed up but was chased away by a Mockingbird. I followed it 
  watched it feed near or on the ground under some acacias nearby and had
  excellent looks. This largish oriole is just stunning! It tried to feed
  from the oranges 2 more times where again it was harassed by the 
  so it gave up and flew off to the south. I tried to follow but lost it.

  November 19, 2006

  I greeted Leanna Shaberl at her home in Phoenix around 8:45am. She gave
  me a tour of feeding station and then we sat down to see what showed 
  Almost immediately the Rose-breasted Grosbeak appeared- this is a nice
  winter male and although it has an injured left foot appears to be 
  alright. The loads of Mourning Doves and Gamble’s Quail attracted a
  Cooper’s Hawk several times, clearing the yard for several minutes
  before most birds came back. Mealworms attracted at least two Greater
  Roadrunners, Curve-billed Thrasher, Gila Woodpeckers, Cactus Wren, and
  finally one Bendire’s Thrasher. The Bendire’s gulped 3 or 4 mealworms
  before sitting nearby for a few minutes providing a great close view.
  Several male Costa’s Hummingbirds were busy at the sugarwater feeders
  and I could hear at least one of the males displaying nearby. An
  immature Anna’s showed up once or twice. Gilded Flickers perched and
  called from the telephone pole nearby. All in all, a really fantastic
  southwest experience- Thanks Leanna!

  After discovering my flight was 3 hours later than I thought, I went 
  broke and decided to check for the Rufous-backed Robin at the Nature
  Conservancy’s Hassayampa River Preserve. I wasn't too optimistic and 
  preserve was a great place to wander in during the early afternoon and
  much better than sitting at the airport. I hit the jackpot at 2:35 when
  I flushed the bird near marker PL-8 on the Palm Lake Loop feeding in a
  ditch right on the trail. It flew up and back just a bit, perching and
  preening for a while so I had a nice long look. This is probably the
  most colorful Turdus thrush I've ever seen! It then flew a short way 
  and I refound it behind the picnic area where I watched it for another
  long time, first preening and then feeding on the ground under fallen
  trees and amongst the leaf litter. A Hermit Thrush and Golden-crowned
  Kinglet were nearby as well.

  Again, I want to thank everyone for tips on finding Bendire's Thrasher
  and for directions to the Gilbert Water Ranch. And another big thanks 
  Leanna for her hospitality and for showing me her birds. If anyone 
  more details on any of the birds described above, please feel free to
  contact me.

  Good birding, Alan

  Alan J. Knue
  bluejay at surfbirder.com

  Seattle, WA, USA
- From I-8, take Hwy 111 north to Calipatria
  - From the center of Calipatria, drive north 3.5 miles to Sinclair 
Road, which will have a sign for Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR, and turn 
  - Drive west on Sinclair Road 4.5 miles to Garst Road, which will have 
a sign to Red Hill Marina, and turn right
  - Drive north on Garst Road for 1.5 miles and then turn west (left) 
towards Red Hill Marina
  - Follow the perimeter road to the south of "Red Hill" and park at the 
boat launch
  - The Ross's Gull has been seen on both sides of the boat launch 
feeding in the mud flats and along the shore

  RUFOUS-BACKED ROBIN at Hassayampa River Preserve on Nov 17, twice, 
  > near Willow Walkway 9 viewing area, then right near the first bench 
on the
  > Palm Lake Trail. Will send diagnostic photographs later.  Near 
  The preserve is located along Highway 60, just south of Wickenburg on 
the west side of the road. It is three miles southeast of Wickenburg. 
If you are coming from Phoenix or Tucson take Interstate 17 north out 
of town. Once you have come to State Highway 74, just outside of 
Phoenix take it west. When State Highway 74 runs into State Highway 60, 
take it north to the Preserve. Look for the “Hassayampa River Preserve” 
sign on the west side of the highway

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The 110-acre Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch is located at 2757 E. 
Guadalupe, east of Greenfield Road, next to the Southeast Regional 
Library in Gilbert, Arizona.
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