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Monday, July 30, 2012

Flash Birding Madera Canyon. July 2012.

Madera Canyon is a premier birding destination in SE Arizona and one that a flash birding trip can hardly do justice to. Nonetheless, I spent a few hours at Madera and was able to observe some typical birds of the area.

A great place to start is the Santa Rita birding lodge. Observed in the vicinity were Western Tanager (middle). Black-headed Grosbeak (right and lower left), and White-Breasted Nuthatch (upper left). This grosbeak is a rather drab bird found in the Western US. The Western Tanager, like the black-headed Grosbeak, is also a member of the Cardinal family and found commonly in the area.

Also observed were bridled titmouse [center and lower left], lesser goldfinch [right] and ruby-crowned kinglet. The former is an Arizona specialty bird and Madera Canyon is a reliable place for it.

Also present were Mexican Jay [center] and, on the way to the canyon, Swainson's Hawk. The jays, are a noisy, gregarious bunch. Their subtle blue and grey plumage makes them easily distinguishable from the Stellar's Jays found at higher elevations.

Hiking on the upper trails resulted in sightings of painted redstarts [left and lower right] -- this is a distinctive warbler that is a nightmare to photograph. It is a quick feeder and flits about incessantly. I got several poor shots mostly ruined due to camera shake, inability to focus or obstructed views. It didn't help that many hikers decided to visit the same trail. In contrast, a relatively cooperative subject -- the Acorn Woodpecker -- provided no real frustration in capturing its image. There are a lot of target species in this area that will warrant a future trip; but, in the limited time I had, this was well worth it.

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