It was raining when I left the house, just a couple of miles from the trailhead. I didn’t think anyone would show up, but since I was the trip leader, I figured I had better at least make an appearance.
Larry was in his car when I arrived at the parking lot. As I donned my rain jacket and went over to his car, a Northern Flicker sped by, followed by a small flock of Mourning Doves.
Within minutes Joanne arrived, and then Steve. By 8:00 it had stopped raining and there were five intrepid birders who were game for seeing how many birds we could see before it started raining again.
As we headed down the trail, Rebecca scurried up behind us. “I turned back twice, but then there would be a slight lull, so I decided to continue,” she said.A Western Scrub Jay called from across the canyon, and then we began to hear the tinkling call of Black-throated Sparrows.
Two House Finches flew in and landed on a scrub oak.A Curve-billed Thrasher called from the other side of the trail – and then was answered by two more. We could see movement from the first one in the middle of a cholla, and pretty soon it hopped its way to the top of the cactus, then popped up and perched on the top, surveying the landscape. As if on cue, we saw movement where we had heard the answering call and two Curve-billed Thrashers made their way to the top of another cholla. The first one flew off, but the other two stayed long enough for everyone to get good looks.
“A year bird for me,” exclaimed Marge.
I hoped we would also get a Crissal Thrasher since I had seen three of them the prior day when I was scouting.
“There is a bird with wing bars in the scrub oak,” Marge said.
“It looks like the movement pattern of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet,” Rebecca replied.
We heard a quail calling, and then spotted a Gambel’s Quail hiding in the bottom of a large bush. A few minutes later another one scurried along the ground not too far from us.
An accipiter flew low across the trail. “Looks like a Sharp-shinned Hawk,” Steve commented.
“It seemed to have more rapid wing beats than a Cooper’s Hawk,” I added.
As we moved forward, we encountered a portion of trail that was alive with sparrows. We were able to ID several Brewer’s Sparrows, a possible immature White-crowned Sparrow and a couple of Rufous-crowned Sparrows.
“A Yellow-rumped Warbler just flew up into some bushes,” Rebecca said.
“I wonder if it was the warbler we heard earlier tcheking in the apache plume,” I stated.It started to sprinkle and we could see the cloud bank moving up from the valley. We started back, but not before spotting a Canyon Towhee. When we had almost reached the parking lot, another accipiter flew low across the trail in front of us. It was so close I could hear the wind from its wings. It landed on a fence post. “That really looks like a Cooper’s Hawk,” Steve stated.
And then we scurried up to the parking lot and into our cars, glad that we had managed to have a little over an hour of birding – and 16 species.