Birding Arizona; Ramsey Canyon Winter Weekend Trip Report (2009)

February 13 – 17, 2009

Feb. 13 (Friday)

Due to an unfortunate mishap with airlines (it was Friday 13th!), only part of the group was picked up at the scheduled time at Tucson Airport. They were driven to Sierra Vista, where we enjoyed a meal at the Outback Steakhouse, then were dropped off at the Ramsey Canyon Inn B&B. The second half of the group was later picked up in Tucson after having a meal at a local Mexican Restaurant near the airport. They too were brought to the Inn. Ready at last!

Feb. 14 (Saturday)

After one of Shirlene’s hearty breakfasts, we headed for the San Raphael Valley on the west side of the Huachucas in search of birds of prey and sparrows (especially Lincoln’s Sparrow and Lark Sparrow). Along the route, through the Montezuma Pass, we met a mixed flock including Bushtits, Bridled Titmice, Cactus, Rock and Bewick’s Wrens. Then, in the valley, we encountered numerous Red-tailed Hawks and six species of Sparrow.

Afterward, we headed up to the Patton’s feeders in Patagonia, where we had Anna’s Hummingbird, Inca Dove, Lazuli Bunting and four species of Woodpecker.

The day finished at Kino Springs with great looks at Gilded Flicker and Vermilion Flycatcher. We returned to Sierra Vista, then dined at the famous Café Roka in Bisbee.

Feb. 15 (Sunday)

Shirlene provided us an early breakfast and we headed out to the Sulphur Springs Valley in search of raptors and cranes, also finding Snow Geese, Cinnamon Teal and Ruddy Ducks. Amongst the raptors we saw were four different races of Red-tailed Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel and Cooper’s Hawks.

At Whitewater Draw, we watched upwards of 10,000 Sandhill Cranes fly in. What a spectacle!

We then left in pursuit of Great Horned and Barn Owl in Elfrida, finding both owls. Also in the Elfrida region, we were able to see Bendire’s and Curve-billed Thrasher.

We then returned to Sierra Vista for a delicious dinner at the Mesquite Tree Grille. As we were driving back to the inn later, we had great views of a Whiskered Screech Owl along Ramsey Canyon Road.

Feb. 16 (Monday)

Shirlene cooked us another wonderful breakfast at the inn, then we were off towards the San Pedro River for more sparrows (White crowned, Chipping, Brewer’s and Vesper, among others) and also found Abert’s, Canyon and Green-tailed Towhees, Gila Woodpecker and Black and Say’s Phoebe.

Afterwards, we headed to the Ft. Huachuca Military Base’s Garden Canyon for a picnic style lunch before hiking up Scheelite Canyon. Two Mexican Spotted Owls were patiently waiting for us as we reached the 5/8 mile marker. Other birds we saw along the way included Canyon Wren, Hutton’s Vireo and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, giving us a perfect opportunity to compare the two.

We then returned to the inn for some rest and relaxation in anticipation of our dinner, prepared by Swiss/French chef Gratien Torrione at the Rail Oaks Ranch in Hereford, AZ.

Feb. 17 (Tuesday)

After breakfast, we chose to hike up Ramsey Canyon in pursuit of species missed during the weekend. There we encountered Arizona Woodpecker, Townsend’s Warbler, Painted Redstart, Acorn Woodpecker and White-breasted Nuthatch. All in all, a great weekend of birding before it was time to head back to the airport.


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