CA/AZ: Day 8 (Feb 22) - Tucson to Willcox

Today's birding was limited due to weather. I woke up to light rain, wind, and a forecast for worsening conditions through the day. A repeat visit to the San Rafael Grasslands was out of the question. There were two common desert species I wanted a better look at, COSTA'S HUMMINGBIRD and GILDED FLICKER, so I decided to stay close to Tucson for the morning and then base my afternoon on the weather.

I headed for the Shannon-Broadway intersection in Tucson. The habitat here is desert dominated by giant saguaros.

Most of the expected desert fare, including my two target species, were present. As the rain began to increase in intensity, the birds seemingly became more confiding. I enjoyed stellar views of GAMBEL'S QUAIL, CACTUS WREN, BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHERS, CURVE-BILLED THRASHERS, PHAINOPEPLAS, PYRRHULOXIA, and a RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROW.


Curve-billed Thrasher


Gambel's Quail

presumed Desert Cottontail

I had no choice but to leave when it began to pour. A check of the radar map on my phone revealed what would be a few more hours of rain. I decided I would use the rainy weather to make another move to the east, in the direction of the Chiricahua Mountains.

My arrival at the Willcox Twin Lakes was well timed...the weather began to break before sunset. The ponds held common waterfowl including some CINNAMON TEAL and a few hundred AMERICAN WIGEON. A WILSON'S SNIPE was hunkered down along a muddy edge. As I began to lose light, YELLOW-HEADED and RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS came into the reeds to roost.

I guess I'm in the right place...

Willcox Twin Lakes

On my way out I nailed a covey of this afternoon's target bird on the golf course: SCALED QUAIL. The covey was 22 birds strong, with a single GAMBEL'S QUAIL among them.

Scaled Quail

Back into Willcox for the night.

- NB


  1. Hey Nick,
    I think it's incredible how, with such little equipment you are able to capture some incredible shots! Sometimes less in more and you definitely show it here. I'm heading to AZ this summer myself and cannot wait to see birds I've never seen before, especially those range-restricted species such as Hepatic Tanager and Five-striped Sparrow.

    Good Birding,

  2. "A check of the radar map on my phone revealed what would be a few more hours of rain."

    Pretty cool tool, I must admit. I suspect you spent a good bit of time out of reach of any cell support, much less an internet connection, but when it is there... Was the phone the only connectivity you took with you, or did you pack a laptop too?

  3. Hey thanks Alex. Those little point-and-shoot cameras are useful for record shots and sometimes turn out a decent photo! You'll love Arizona. When exactly are you going? Hope everything went well for you today.

    Roy, the mountains and canyons were out of cell phone range but otherwise AT&T was fine. I can vouch that their 3G map is limited to metropolitan areas however! I also took my laptop, mainly to empty my SD card but also to reference notes and maps programs (though I tried to print out what I could beforehand).

  4. Thanks, Nick.
    We're thinking around the 15th and staying for 9-10 days.


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