Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Area Assignments for 2 January 2012

Updated 12/27/2011

1. Bear Grass Tank and Murphy Canyon

No coverage

2. Jalisco and Apache Canyons
Robert Weissler
Ron Beck

3. Arivaca Lake
Paul Sheppard and crew

4. Oro Blanco Wash
Tim Helentjaris
Barbara Johnson

5. Warsaw and Holden Canyons
Howard Buchanan
Steve Foldi
Mandia Gonzoles

6. Cedar and Bartolo Canyons
Brian Jones and crew

7. Ruby and Papago Tanks
Matt! Brooks
Richard England
Deryn England

8. California Gulch
Reid Freeman
Richard Wilt

9. Corral Nuevo
Matt Griffiths
Jennie Macfarland

10. Upper Sycamore and Yanks Canyons
Richard Fray
Jenise Porter
Nancy Rivera

11. Middle Sycamore and Peñasco Canyons
John Yerger
Morgan Jackson

12. Lower Sycamore and Tonto Canyons
John Reuland
Scott Olmstead

13. Pine Canyon to Hells Gate
No coverage

14. Atascosa Lookout and Upper Ramanote Canyon
Malcolm Chesworth
Stephen Dilks

15. Bear Valley Ranch
Larry Liese
Betsy Checcia
Roger Tess

16. Rock Corral and Tinaja Canyons
Chris McCreedy

17. Peck Canyon Complex
Joe Hammond
Laurens Halsey
Leslie Hall
Jay Miller and crew

18. Wise Mesa and Lower Ramanote Canyon
Matt Brown

19. Bellota Canyon
Erika Wilson
Tom Leskiw
Leah Latura

20. Peña Blanca Lake and Canyon
Ken Kertell
Fred Heath
Mary Klinkel

21. Ruby Road East
Molly Pollock
Mark Stevenson
Diana Davis

22. Alamo Canyon
Sally Johnsen
Linda White
Jim Hays
Clark Blake

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Atascosa Highlands CBC Set for Monday, January 2, 2012

Mark your calendars for January 2, and contact the compiler to sign up for the Most Awesome CBC in Arizona!

John Yerger has agreed to step in and organize the count this year since Jake Mohlmann and I (Rich Hoyer) won't be in the country during the entire CBC season.

Contact him at john at adventurebirding dot com to sign up.


Why is this the Most Awesome CBC in the state? The circle was brilliantly designed in 1960 by Bill Harrison and has the following fabulous features:

• It encompasses the maximum amount of public property possible in this region, being sandwiched between areas of private property.

• The five largest landowners within the circle boundaries (not counting tiny mining claims scattered here and there) give us permission to count on their land, including the town of Ruby, Bear Valley Ranch, and three ranches on the western edge.

• It excludes as much of Mexico as possible while still hugging the border.

• In includes – just barely – both Arivaca and Peña Blanca Lakes.

• The entire U.S. breeding range of Five-striped Sparrow is in the circle (not including occasional outliers in some years). What is more amazing is that in 1960 the species had not been discovered yet in this country.

• It has the highest concentrations of Montezuma Quail, Rock Wren, Canyon Wren, Rufous-crowned Sparrow, Canyon Towhee, and wintering Elegant Trogon of any CBC circle in the country.

• It usually places in the top 5 US circles in the number of species with the annual high count (snagging first place in 2009-2010).

• In 2010-2011 it had the most participants of any CBC in Arizona (66).

• It has a stunningly gorgeous landscape, with rolling hills, canyons, cliffs and endless opportunities for cross-country hiking.

• It's such a wild a remote region that at one point there were two wild Jaguars roaming this back country.

• There are no Starlings, Rock Pigeons, House Sparrows or Great-tailed Grackles.

I recommend reading all the archives of this blog (links on the right), as most are still quite pertinent. Two of the most useful show maps of the circle, so here are links directly to those posts:

General location of the circle


More detailed map of the circle

Have fun!

Photo at top: Painted Redstart. Scattered individuals and pairs winter in the more wooded canyons in the circle. Last year, with 9, Atascosa Highlands CBC had the highest number in the U.S.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Atascosa Highlands Records Twelve Annual Highs This Year

Nearly all CBC's have finally posted their results to the National Audubon website, so I have been able to determine that our sixty-six hardy souls, birding all day in rugged lands on December 31, 2010, recorded the highest number of individuals for twelve species among all US Christmas Bird Counts this year.

Some are shoo-ins, such as Canyon and Rock Wrens, Rufous-crowned Sparrow; there is simply no other circle that has the quantity and quality of habitat as AZAH (as long as we have enough observers). But we almost missed a couple. Montezuma Quail is perhaps the most noteworthy, as the Davis Mountains CBC recorded 19 this year. And one surprise was Red-naped Sapsucker, usually seen in greatest numbers on the Mogollon Rim, with Prescott being number one – this year they had only 26.

Montezuma Quail - 20
Elegant Trogon - 8 (all-time US high)
Arizona Woodpecker - 23
Red-naped Sapsucker - 50
Hammond's Flycatcher - 21
Gray Flycatcher - 47
Rock Wren - 100
Canyon Wren - 67
Painted Redstart - 9
Canyon Towhee - 175
Rufous-crowned Sparrow - 171
Five-striped Sparrow - 1

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2010 Final Numbers

The data has been entered and finalized. Go to "Results: Current Year" at http://christmasbirdcount.org.

Atascosa Highlands Christmas Bird Count
December 31, 2010
Gadwall 30
American Wigeon 121
Mallard 74
Northern Shoveler 2
Northern Pintail 53
Green-winged Teal 107
Canvasback 1
Ring-necked Duck 125
Lesser Scaup 1
Bufflehead 6
Hooded Merganser 1
Ruddy Duck 116
Wild Turkey 1
Montezuma Quail 20
Least Grebe 7
Pied-billed Grebe 17
Eared Grebe 4
Great Blue Heron 7
Great Egret 1
Green Heron 4
Northern Harrier 7
Sharp-shinned Hawk 6
Cooper's Hawk 3
Red-tailed Hawk 36
Golden Eagle 9
American Kestrel 24
Peregrine Falcon 1
Prairie Falcon 2
Sora 3
American Coot 150
Killdeer 15
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Wilson's Snipe 7
California Gull 1
White-winged Dove 3
Mourning Dove 183
Western Screech-Owl 3
Whiskered Screech-Owl 2
Great Horned Owl 5
Northern Pygmy-Owl 1
hummingbird sp. CW
Elegant Trogon 8
Belted Kingfisher 3
Acorn Woodpecker 42
Gila Woodpecker 66
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2
Red-naped Sapsucker 50
Ladder-backed Woodpecker 78
Arizona Woodpecker 23
Northern Flicker 68
Gilded Flicker 1
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet 1
Hammond's Flycatcher 21
Gray Flycatcher 47
Dusky Flycatcher 6
Dusky/Hammond's Flycatcher 2
"Western" Flycatcher 1
Black Phoebe 83
Eastern Phoebe 4
Say's Phoebe 46
Vermilion Flycatcher 3
Ash-throated Flycatcher 5
Loggerhead Shrike 8
Plumbeous Vireo 1
Hutton's Vireo 21
Western Scrub-Jay 3
Mexican Jay 190
Chihuahuan Raven 1
Common Raven 90
raven sp. 13
Bridled Titmouse 165
Verdin 28
Bushtit 142
White-breasted Nuthatch 11
Brown Creeper 3
Cactus Wren 7
Rock Wren 100
Canyon Wren 67
Bewick's Wren 142
House Wren 12
Marsh Wren 7
Sedge Wren 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 380
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 3
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher 4
Eastern Bluebird 4
Western Bluebird 22
Townsend's Solitaire 12
Hermit Thrush 85
Northern Mockingbird 46
Curve-billed Thrasher 1
Crissal Thrasher 1
American Pipit 3
Phainopepla 34
Orange-crowned Warbler 5
Yellow-rumped Warbler "Audubon's" 99
Black-throated Gray Warbler 4
Townsend's Warbler 3
Black-and-white Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 3
Painted Redstart 9
Hepatic Tanager 4
Western Tanager 1
Green-tailed Towhee 31
Spotted Towhee 21
Canyon Towhee 175
Abert's Towhee 5
Rufous-winged Sparrow 24
Cassin's Sparrow 2
Rufous-crowned Sparrow 171
Five-striped Sparrow 1
Chipping Sparrow 935
Brewer's Sparrow 55
Black-chinned Sparrow 9
Vesper Sparrow 76
Lark Sparrow 108
Black-throated Sparrow 28
Lark Bunting 4
Savannah Sparrow 6
Grasshopper Sparrow 2
Song Sparrow 10
Lincoln's Sparrow 46
White-throated Sparrow CW
White-crowned Sparrow "Gambel's" 343
White-crowned Sparrow "Mountain" 10
Dark-eyed Junco (unknown) 34
Dark-eyed Junco "Gray-headed" 12
Dark-eyed Junco "Oregon" 21
Dark-eyed Junco "Pink-sided" 25
Northern Cardinal 52
Pyrrhuloxia 19
Red-winged Blackbird 24
Eastern Meadowlark 25
Western Meadowlark 25
meadowlark sp. 26
Cassin's Finch 6
House Finch 158
Pine Siskin 82
Lesser Goldfinch 297

Thursday, January 6, 2011

An Account From Lower Sycamore and Tonto Canyons

I'm still crunching numbers from the Dec 31, 2010 CBC, but I'll have a summary soon. In the meantime, here's a great account from Philip Kline from his area.

"I spent a chilly day in stunning scenery yesterday with three intrepid birders and one game non-birder covering lower California Gulch and Sycamore Canyon down to the Mexican border for the Atascosa Mountains CBC.  The day vacillated between cold, colder, and freezing, with occasional snow and sleet showers and a windy afternoon, but we persevered and ended up with 48 species, although numbers were quite low.  Lower Sycamore Canyon usually has roving bands of Bridled Titmice, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, with the odd Hutton's Vireo, Bewick's Wren, and occasionally something else mixed in, but the afternoon produced mostly isolated individuals of these species.

"We started the day at Border Tank, which can be accessed by a decent (thanks to the Border Patrol) 4WD road continuing south from the lower end of California Gulch.  Border Tank and Hidden Tank in this area can be dry, but often have waterfowl when full.  Today we were lucky and Hidden Tank had good numbers of American Wigeon and Green-winged Teal, with a few Mallard, Gadwall, and a Pintail mixed in.  From Border Tank it is possible to find decent trails that head generally southeast and over a saddle and into Sycamore Canyon.  We only encountered a couple of flocks, one containing an Ash-throated Flycatcher.  A couple of Rufous-winged Sparrows were down by Hidden Tank.

"Crossing over into Sycamore Canyon amid snow flurries, we decided to hop over another low saddle and check out lower Tonto Canyon.  This Canyon runs along the Mexican border on the Arizona side then runs into Sycamore Canyon on the Mexican side.  We didn't have long to spend in there, but it's a picturesque little canyon that I might have to go back and explore some more.  Five-striped Sparrows also breed in this Canyon, as well as in lower Sycamore Canyon.  We didn't see anything special, but it was quite birdy and we found another Ash-throated Flycatcher calling over on the Mexican side of the border.

"By the time we started to head up Sycamore Canyon proper, the wind really started to pick up and birds were few and far between.  But what we lacked in quantity, we made up for in quality.  After three years of trying, I finally managed to call in a Five-striped Sparrow about 3/4 mile upstream from the border.  [See photo at top.] They're pretty tough to track down in winter.  As we continued up Canyon, we had brief encounters with two different Elegant Trogons.  Farther up still, there were two
very vocal Painted Redstarts.  Empid challenges were plentiful in the Canyon too.  Fortunately, all but one bird called and we ended up with one Gray, one Dusky, and two Hammond's.  The usual winter denizens were also present in the Canyon in low numbers.  We bushwhacked through dense thornscrub up and over another saddle to get back over into California Gulch, but were rewarded for our scratches with fabulous views of the Canyon as the evening sun finally peeped out from under the cloud deck lighting up the clifftops and a belated Golden Eagle soaring over the opposite ridgeline.

"If anyone is interested in covering this area with me next year, let me know.  Tonto Canyon could certainly use further exploration.  The area is rugged and remote, but well worth the time and effort."