Today I headed 16 miles and 2,500 vertical feet up into Madera Canyon. I spent the hot, middle portion of the day feeder-watching, and in the late afternoon I went for an extended hike that took me an addition distance up into the canyon. Birdwise, it was very quiet today. This was most likely due to the extreme heat we experienced today (see above). I did see some very nice Blue grosbeaks at the feeders, and I had a great look at a Grace's warbler foraging on the ground.
Out and back for 32 miles today
However, it was the continuing Buff-collared nightjar at the mouth of Madera Canyon that really motivated today's expedition. This is another Mexican species that just reaches Southeastern Arizona. There has been one bird hanging out at a spot called Proctor road. This road essentially demarcates the entrance to the Canyon; Above it oaks dominate and below it is mainly mesquite scrub. The nightjar appears to like this transition zone, and he has been heard calling in the same area for several weeks. This nocturnal and amazingly well-camouflaged bird is not only rare, but it is incredibly difficult to see. I have heard the bird on several occasions but never seen it. I figured tonight would go the same way, and despite getting within 30 feet of a calling bird, I was unable to get a decent look at it. I did see it fly through my flashlight beam, but this "look" is certainly not enough to count as a seen bird as far as I am concerned. Buff-collared will therefore go down as a heard only bird for species #453. Another nightjar, the Common poorwill, was calling all around us as we looked for the Buff-collared. I was unable to see any of these calling Poorwills, so it will join the list at #452 as heard only. I will have more chances to see Poorwill in the next few weeks. I did see several Lesser nighthawks this evening.
Buff-collared nightjar habitat. The main part of
Madera Canyon is around that rockpile to the right.
The nocturnal descent: 2000 vertical feet straight down!
OK, bedtime. Tomorrow I will head to Tucson to try to pick up Costa's hummingbird and Gilded flicker. I'll try to write a bit more tomorrow since I will have some time.