Tuesday, 11 May 2010


I'm just back from Arizona, my 17th visit to my favourite 'Grand Canyon State'. It was another tour for Avian Adventures and followed the now familiar itinerary: Tucson, Portal, Sierra Vista, Green Valley, Sedona and then the Grand Canyon itself.

What made this trip different was the weather! This must have been the coldest late-April in Arizona in living memory. There was really late snow and as it began to melt, rivers and creeks were flowing that I've only been used to seeing completely dry! To give an example of how cold it was, the temperature in Sierra Vista on 30th April reached a high of only 57° F when the average for this date is 80° F. You might think that 57° isn't really cold but it was so unexpected and what made it worse was the wind, really strong wind that on one or two days made birding extremely difficult. Fortunately, we also had several more typical baking-hot Arizona days.

With the spring being late some of the migrant birds were hard to find but there weren't too many surprises and the total bird list fell only just short of 200 species. There was only one of these that I hadn't seen before in Arizona: Red-necked Phalarope - two birds at Sweetwater Wetlands. The total included 11 different hummingbirds and 'Flameboy', the unpaired male Flame-coloured Tanager that has returned for the eighth consecutive year to Madera Canyon.

'Flameboy' on his favourite feeder

Broad-billed Hummingbird - common in the Huachucas and elsewhere

Greater Roadrunner - 'Beep, Beep'

Desert Spiny Lizard - one of several reptiles seen

Great Horned Owl - seen here on its usual perch at Whitewater Draw

The Grand Canyon - one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World

Zone-tailed Hawk - a Turkey Vulture mimic

California Condor - re-introduced to Arizona - a face only a mother could love

Painted Redstart - always on the move

American Robin - according to the IOC the only Turdus to remain a Robin.
Maybe it should be called North American Lawn Thrush

Gambel's Quail - flying the flag

Spotted Owl - one of the Miller Canyon birds

Mexican Duck - soon the be a separate species?

Western Tanager - heading for the jelly jar

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