Monday, November 3, 2014

Nov 2 (Day 306) - Getting into position for Sinaloa wren!

Today's ride was awesome. It was cloudy and cool, and the I-8 shoulder was as smooth as a pool table for much of the day. The first 3/4 of the ride took me through undeveloped, wide open desert. The saguaro cacti that I left back in May returned in full force today. These, coupled with the cholla and ocotillo, made for really pretty roadside foliage. Most of the ride was along valley floors with jagged peaks bounding them on either side. Although I have never lived in the desert southwest, I really have an affinity for this region. Maybe this explains why I seem to return to bird here with almost predictable regularity. I imagine the incredible birding, particularly during the summer months, also contributes to this proclivity. 

A relaxed 70 miles today

Along the roadside today

More roadside views

As I approached my destination, I slowed down bit to do some casual birding on local dirt roads. While I did not find anything earth-shatteringly rare, it was nice to reacquaint myself with some of the desert southwest birds that I have not seen since earlier in the year. I had nice views of Gila woodpecker, Black-tailed gnatcatcher, Rock wren, Lark Sparrow, and Greater roadrunner. The best birds of the afternoon though were the 2 Sage sparrows that popped up while I was chasing gnatcatchers. It was really nice to bird without any pressure whatsoever. I was hoping to bird my way to my destination, but the firm dirt roads on which I started eventually turned sandy. This made riding a royal pain in the ass. I put my head down and pushed through this unproductive stretch to reach my destination by mid-afternoon.

A firm dirt road with lots of birds!

A sandy dirt road in farm field with no birds!
Notice how my tires sank in. It was very hard to steer.

I am SUPER stoked about the next few days. The Arizona birding community has really rallied to help me. I have secured places to stay for the next week including places right next to the Sinaloa wren location and the Baird's sparrow spot! This means that I can maximize birding time and minimize time spent sorting out lodging. Tomorrow, I am going to slow down bit to do some casual morning birding around the Santa Cruz flats. I have seen both Rufous-backed robin and Ruddy ground-dove in this area previously. Maybe I will get super lucky and nail one of the doves. From the flats, I will head south to the west side of Tucson where I will spend tomorrow night. Tuesday I will get a nice early start and ride the ~65 miles south to Tubac to begin the Sinaloa wren search that afternoon. I am planning on spending 3-4 days searching for the wren. Sure, I might get it sooner, but from what I have heard it can be frustratingly difficult to find. The bird has been around for months and was last eBirded on Oct 29. Given how long the bird has been in the area, I feel confident that it is there now and will be in the area when I arrive on Tuesday. After the wren, its onto the Baird's sparrow. I have received several nice emails detailing what should be productive approaches to finding this bird.

I hope to have some more bird-related stuff for you in the next few days!

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