59 + 2 of screwing around for 61 miles total
I was also hopeful that I could find a Bendire's thrasher today. I have seen them on the Santa Cruz flats on previous trips to the area. I saw a single Bendire's thrasher near Rodeo, NM on May 15, but I did not get a terribly good look at it. It was enough to count it, but I was hoping to do a bit of study on this species today. It did not take long for me to find some thrashers along the roadside today. The first one I saw only briefly. It looked on the larger side, with a relatively curved beak. I chalked it up as a probable Curve-billed, but I am unwilling to label it definitively. Shortly after this bird, I located a smaller thrasher with a much shorter, straighter beak. This looked really good for Bendire's. Creeping up on it, I was able to see the nice arrow marks on the chest. It also helped that the bird did a bit of singing to nail it for sure. I chase this bird around a bit to obtain these photos. He really wouldn't let me get very close, but I think these are serviceable. The third bird I found was also suggestive of Bendire's, but again, I am not going to definitely label this individual. It was nice to do some study on a day when I had a bit of extra time.
Roadside mesquite and thrasher habitat
I am actually staying about a mile from Saguaro National Park. This region of Sonoran desert is some of my absolute favorite landscape in the entire country. I deliberately stayed west of Tucson so that I could bike through this area tomorrow morning en route to Tubac. I am not sure what it is about the saguaros that I like so much. Sometimes I picture them as people with arms held high, cheering me on as I bike along. Who knows...I guess I don't have to explain it.
Interestingly, this is the first time this year that I am riding over the same ground as I did earlier in the year. I came right through Tucson and Phoenix on my first Arizona visit in May/June. I am now riding along the same roads in the opposite direction. What this means is that there aren't many new birds or new scenes along this stretch. The upside is that I know what to expect from a terrain and road quality standpoint. It's also MUCH cooler now than the first run-through; It was 45F when I got onto the bike this morning! I will bypass the the Chiricahuas this time around, and I will instead follow I-10 out of Arizona, across NM, and into West Texas. I rode the NM and TX portions of I-10 on the spring leg. I-10 is boring, but it is direct, it has enough traffic that if something goes wrong I can flag someone down, and it is generally well-maintained and very safe. There are also Best Westerns dotted all along it!
In preparation for tomorrow, I have to study up on Sinaloa wren calls and songs. I have gathered that this bird can be very frustrating to locate, but I have enough time that I should have a very good shot at it despite its secretive habits. I have a 64-mile ride to reach Tubac and the wren. I hope to get a nice early start (after it warms up a bit) and reach the area in time to take a crack at the bird tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully I will have some good news for you tomorrow!