Although the main purpose of my recent trip was to see my kids and grandkids in Colorado while avoiding flying, I nearly doubled the mileage by extending the trip into New Mexico and Arizona. I'd heard so much about the great birding in Southeast Arizona that I couldn't resist the temptation of trying it myself. Turns out, it really isn't the best time to go.
One of the premier birding areas in Southeast Arizona is The Nature Conservancy's Patagonia Sonoita Creek Preserve and I managed to spend over half a day there.
Ironically, I saw my best birds just outside the preserve. One of my target birds was the Northern Cardinal, which I never did see. However, I was excited to see this
Pyrrhuloxia, a member of the cardinal family I'd never even heard of before.
I was nearly as excited to see a group of these striking Lark Sparrows
flitting back and forth in the same foliage. I was so fascinated by these little guys that I totally lost track of the Pyrrhuloxia.
Birding on the preserve itself was quite slow, though I talked to people who'd been there during the Spring Migration and said they'd seen 150 species in one day.
The only new species I saw on the preserve itself was this Gila Woodpecker.
The dominant feature of the preserve the day I was there was the large number of grasshoppers, perhaps the biggest grasshoppers I've ever seen. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a grasshopper quite like this one:
The preserve certainly seemed like an ideal habitat for birds, and I've been birding long enough to know that birds are where you find them. Hopefully I'll find more the next time I'm there.