I'm back home after 9 days of birding southern California and Arizona. Overall the trip was a great success. Over the next few days I'll be posting a detailed day-by-day trip summary with photos. You can access all of my postings on this trip by clicking the 'CA/AZ 2010' tag below.
My final route was pretty similar to my original plan except for cutting out a few stops because I just could not squeeze them in. At times it felt as though I bit off more than I could chew, despite trying my best not to rush around too much. Birding southern CA in 4 days and SE AZ in 5 days is quite difficult if you want to try to see everything!
The final route was as follows:
Day 1&2) San Diego area
Day 3) Laguna Mtns and Salton Sea
Day 4) Salton Sea and Tacna, AZ
Day 5) Superior to Tucson
Day 6) Patagonia area and San Rafael Grasslands
Day 7) Florida Canyon, Madera Canyon, and vicinity
Day 8) Tucson to Willcox
Day 9) eastern Chiricahua Mtns and Sulphur Springs Valley
I had to cut out the Anza-Borrego Desert in CA and a couple stops in the Yuma, AZ region due to time.
Except for birding with Jay Hand on Day 7, I was alone the entire time. I wasn't sure how fun 9 days of birding alone would be, but it turns out I was too busy birding to get lonely! Still, doing this with a couple friends would have been ideal.
The birding was great. Folks in Arizona were lamenting that this was a down winter for sparrows, raptors, and Mexican vagrants (in stark contrast to Texas). However for a first-time visit I found it to be plenty birdy. With few rarities around, there was little temptation to chase individual birds. I did choose to chase Rufous-capped Warbler and Rufous-backed Robin in AZ and ended up getting crippling views of both birds, so I can't complain! Of course even common birds were lifers for me.
The San Diego area was very cool...nice town and great weather. I can see why people like it so much. Southeast Arizona, though, was spectacular. Not only was the birding exciting and diverse, but the scenery was just awesome. So far my lower 48 birding has taken me along the entire east coast, Florida, southern TX, Washington State, and now SoCal and AZ...SE AZ is the most beautiful area I've birded thus far (with WA being a pretty close 2nd). I already can't wait for a return visit (perhaps in late summer for hummingbirds, etc?).
The preliminary trip tally is 226 species, which I'll have to double-check and could be off by a few in either direction. Don't know how many life birds, but there were quite a few.