Lifers Denoted by Bold
Day nine of Camp Chiricahua was to be more birding around the Huachucas Mountains and to start that off, we headed to the Ash Canyon B&B in search of Lucifer Hummingbird and whatever other birds we could see at the feeders there.
The feeder setup at the B&B is really spectacular with us seeing ladder-backed woodpecker, rufous-crowned sparrow, canyon towhee, curve-billed thrasher, Mexican jay, and an assortment of hummingbirds and other species within short-order of our arrival. Grey hawks were also calling in the area, taunting us, for we only heard them so far on the trip.
A number of interesting mammals were seen at the feeders as well including Arizona grey squirrel, rock squirrel, and a rather large Arizona cotton rat.
After a while, the Lucifer hummingbird came in as well and we were all treated to amazing views of this hummingbird. I had been hoping to see Lucifer hummingbird for a long time as they truly are spectacular-looking birds and we were very excited to get to see one.
Interestingly, we also saw a “Costafer” (Lucifer x Costa’s) hummingbird as well as a potential black-chinned x Lucifer hummingbird which shows that clearly the Lucifer hummingbird(s?) in the area have been rather busy.
Feeder-watching was a very relaxing and enjoyable way to start out the morning but we soon had to move on to our next stop of the day: the Ramsey Canyon Preserve. There we were hoping mainly to find elegant trogon, the poster-child of south eastern Arizona birding and a bird which we were running out of time to find.
A quick stop at the visitor center at the preserve’s entrance turned into something more when a violet-crowned hummingbird was seen. I was especially happy to see these hummingbirds as it represented my final ABA Area regularly-occurring hummingbird which was a goal I had been hoping to achieve during camp.
When we began to hike up the canyon, we got a few reports from people saying that they had heard or seen trogon recently. With this is mind, we were hopeful that we would find one as we hiked upslope. Good looks at a canyon wren by the creek running through the canyon as well as hearing a painted redstart from the farther along the canyon were nice but a trogon would have been better.
Eventually, having failed to locate a trogon, we decided to turn around, thinking that we had passed through the best trogon area. However, we had not failed for a little bit downslope, something amazing was seen.
It was a Sonoran mountain kingsnake just off the trail. One of the campers seized the beautiful snake and we were able to spend the next few minutes observing it at close range.
Eventually, we put the snake back down and slowly started to make our way down the slope again, all of us extraordinarily happy to have seen such a magnificent creature.
Although we didn’t see trogon, it was still a lovely walk through a beautiful piece of canyon land that is thankfully saved by the Ramsey Canyon Preserve from any future development.
When we got to the vans, we headed towards Patagonia where we would be staying for the next few nights. On the way, we stopped at a couple places. First, we pulled over for a roadside pond that got us our first solitary sandpiper of the trip. We then stopped for some pronghorn that were also along the roadside.
We then stopped briefly at the Las Cienegas Grasslands to see what we could find. This was a really beautiful location to stop at and was lovely in its pristine silence. The birds weren’t bad either with Botteri’s and grasshopper sparrows as well as lark buntings, loggerhead shrikes, and a pair of Swainson’s hawks being the highlights. We also found a Botteri’s sparrow nest tucked into the grass which was fun to see.
We then carried on towards Patagonia. When we arrived at Patagonia, we almost immediately sighted a black vulture flying over, a bird that is rather localized in Southeast Arizona. We then unpacked the vans, and spent the rest of the evening enjoying the pool at our hotel and the barn swallows nesting under the roof.