Wednesday, 29 April 2015

ARIZONA 2015: ending up in Paradise (28-29 April)

April 28th.  Before breakfast I looked around the woodland behind our motel in Show Low seeing Acorn and Hairy Woodpeckers, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Western Bluebird and Pygmy Nuthatch.  
Ash-throated Flycatcher at Show Low

We drove southwest on Route 60 across the Mogollon Rim, into and up out of the Salt River Canyon and through Tonto National Forest towards Globe.  The bird I most wanted to see in Arizona was Olive Warbler, a mountain conifer dweller of uncertain affinities now thought to be in a family of its own most closely related to old world warblers. Before we left home I checked ebird for records and saw one from Timber Camp which was on our route.  We found Grace's and Yellow-rumped Warblers in the car park but were not quite sure where to look and decided to press on to a hopefully better site above Globe. This took a bit of finding as we initially missed the turning, and retracing our steps asked at a Forestry Office to be sure.  The road climbed initially through dry scrub, where two Gambel's Quail crossed the road, then quite steeply up into conifers and to the old miner's camp at Sulfide Del Rey. The habitat looked very good for Olive Warbler but seeing someone walking around in the woods with a crossbow was a bit disconcerting, or would have been if their girlfriend/wife hadn't been with them. Even so we thought it best to stick to the road but despite wandering around for over an hour I failed see or hear any Olive Warblers although more Grace's and Yellow-rumpeds were evident and my first Broad-tailed Hummingbird and particularly Painted Whitestarts were some compensation.  I wasn't absolutely sure we were looking in the right place and maybe would have had more success higher up - ebird is rather generic on site details.  More likely arriving on site late morning was our undoing? We retraced our steps seeing Phainopepla, male Lark Bunting, Western Tanager and Cardinal near Globe.  It was then a long drive southeast to Lordsburg, New Mexico.
Sulfide del Rey
April 29th.  We left Lordsburg early, seeing a male Anna's Hummingbird by the motel while loading the car.  We drove back into Arizona but hadn't gone far when we hit a rock in the road which smashed our oil tray and damaged the automatic transmission.  We were greatly helped by passing birders and particularly Jackie at the George Walker House who looked after us and helped in contacting Roadside Assistance.  I had five new birds in her yard (Blue-throated Hummingbird, Arizona Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Bridled Titmouse and Scott's Oriole) - if one was going to break down this was definitely the place to do so!
House Finch
female Cassin's Finch with male House Finch and Pine Siskins
White-breasted Nuthatch
Bridled Titmouse
Western Tanager

Black-headed Groseak

Mexican Jay

I returned to the car and David Terry arrived with a flatbed truck to 'recover' it. This was soon done but arranging what to do with it and getting us a replacement took more time.  With no clear solution evident David and his crew took us north to Bowie where he was based.  I saw several Swainson's Hawks on the way and a Greater Roadrunner sat on a post.  David made numerous phone calls from his office in Bowie and it became clear that the best option was to take us to the Alamo Office at Tucson Airport, over two hours west.  We were booked into a motel in Sierra Vista that evening which was a similar distance from Bowie, but two hours from Tucson.  The rental office in Sierra Vista was closing and although we were told we could get a replacement car there the following morning we really wanted to get sorted while we had David to help us.  We left Bowie and headed west, the last part chasing the sun which just about set before we arrived at Tucson Airport.  We were given a Dodge Chaser with California plates that presumably needed taking home. It was bigger than we were really comfortable with and was key-less, which took a it of getting used to, but it was a relief to be mobile again.  We left Tucson at about 8pm and found our motel in Sierra Vista at about 10pm.  The office was closed but Megan had phoned ahead to say we would be late and our key was waiting for us in a safety box.  It had been a long day but we were relieved to be back on schedule.

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