I started the day at the Circle Z Dude and Guest Ranch. I told you yesterday (well, this morning) that I had found several tyrannulets on the property last night. They were in the exact same spot today so I grabbed a few quick shot before I took off this morning.
Northern beardless-tyrannulet with food for fledgling
Northern beardless-tyrannulet fledgling
Today's first stop was in Rio Rico to look for Tropical kingbird. This was a short detour off my route, and the birds showed almost instantly. Midday sun make photos tough, but I did get this shot that shows the big bill, very yellow lower breast, and notched tail.
71 miles today
Tropical kingbird #449
The main bird I wanted to find today was the rare Black-capped gnatcatcher. This is a Central American species that sometimes makes it into Southeastern Arizona. This year a pair nested in Montosa Canyon at the southern end of the Santa Ritas. I took a very long, very hot (96F), and very hard ride up into the mountains to look for this bird today. On my way up to find the Black-caps, I found a very similar and much more common species in the Black-tailed gnatcatcher (#450). This was a new bird and I am surprised it has taken this long to run into it.
Black-tailed gnatcatcher. Note the black tail underside.
I would guess that this is a fledgling, but maybe its a female.
I had very good directions to the spot where the Black-caps had been hanging out. It did not take me long to find the adult male bird. I did not get a great look, but I did manage to snap this diagnostic photo showing the very white underside to the tail.
I hung around the spot for several hours hoping to get another look at the bird(s). Eventually, I located the entire family: Male, female, and 3 fledglings that constantly begged for food. Their begging call made them easy to find, and I spent the better part of an hour watching them forage not 20 feet from me. They move REALLY fast, so I am happy with the few decent photos I did get. This bird was a fantastic addition to the year's list. This was not a lifer for me as I had seen it at Lake Patagonia 6 or 7 years back. This was a much better look at an entire family of them today!
Another shot of the white under tail
This photo shows the other field marks: longish and skinny bill,
black cap reaches below eye, no white eye ring.
The road up to Montosa Canyon
Gnatcatcher habitat in Montosa Canyon
The view up Montosa Canyon
The Santa Rita Mountains on my descent
When I was about 5 miles from my destination, two guys flagged me down on the highway. They apparently needed my help to push a broken down Jeep onto a trailer. I realized now would be the perfect time to repay some of the incredible amount of goodwill that people have shown me during my year. Once we got the Jeep all loaded up, Fausto and Marco headed off to Casa Grande. It took as a few tries to get the Jeep onto the trailer, and this put pay to my already exhausted legs. Once I arrived at the Green Valley Best Western, I could do little other than shower, eat, and blog.
Tomorrow will be a bit funky for 2 reasons. First, I am going to be looking for Buff-collared nightjar and Common poorwill tomorrow night. Second, it is going to be 103F here tomorrow. I need to find a way to kill the day without dying. I will certainly do some birding, but again, the heat is going to crush me since I have nowhere to go to escape it.