Sunday April 15 – Monday April 16
Start and end time:
Sunday, 6 am – Monday, 4 pm
All meals provided
Ken Blankenship and Chris Chappell
Join guide Ken Blankenship of East West Birding Tours as we explore a variety of habitats and signature birds of the beautiful Huachuca Mountains and the San Pedro River corridor.
On Day 1 we’ll start by hiking in Hunter Canyon. Although the 2011 Miller Peak Wilderness fire certainly left its mark, the result is a unique combination of successional and untouched habitats that are home to a nice diversity of bird species. The initial hike is dominated by sun-drenched successional oak-scrub; birds that have moved in to fill this niche include: Crissal Thrasher, Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, Scott’s Oriole, Black-chinned Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, and more. Higher up, the trail enters a stand of soaring conifers that were spared when the fire “jumped” the canyon; here we hope to find Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Painted Redstart, Hepatic Tanager, Grace’s Warbler, “Mountain” Pygmy-Owl, Montezuma Quail, and more. The pine forest wasn’t spared completely, however, and the scrubby disturbance habitat here has also become home to a resident pair of Rufous-capped Warblers, which we hope will be a well-earned highlight of our hike. Next up, we’ll spend some time relaxing and enjoying the wonderful wild birds at Ash Canyon B&B. This famous feeding station is perhaps the best place in the U.S. to see Lucifer Hummingbird, and there will be plenty of other birds to behold: Broad-billed Hummingbird, Anna’s Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Rivoli’s Hummingbird, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Scott’s Oriole, Pyrrhuloxia, Canyon Towhee, Curve-billed Thrasher, Lazuli Bunting, and more. After lunch, we’ll drive high up into Carr Canyon to enjoy montane breeding birds such as Steller’s Jay, Olive Warbler, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Grace’s Warbler, Yellow-eyed Junco, Zone-tailed Hawk, Greater Pewee, etc. After dinner, there will be an optional excursion for anyone interested nocturnal birds: Elf Owl, Western Screech-Owl, and Whiskered Screech-Owl.
On Day 2 we will start off in a completely different ecosystem: the San Pedro River riparian corridor. Amid giant cottonwoods, weedy fields, and ponds we hope to see Vermilion Flycatcher, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Western and Summer Tanager, Abert’s Towhee, Bullock’s Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Lucy’s Warbler, Pied-billed Grebe, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Green Kingfisher, and a variety of migrants fueling up along this critical lush corridor of habitat through the desert. From there we’ll head for more world class birding in Ramsey Canyon. Along with more chances to find most of the species already mentioned for other canyons, we’ll hope to encounter an Elegant Trogon – a poster child of SE Arizona birding and the only trogon species that occurs north of the Mexican border.
Recommended Gear and Cautions:
Intermediate level. Will involve walking on steep and rocky/rooted trails. Bring a water bottle and hat, wear sunscreen, and shoes/boots that are appropriate for hiking trails. Expect to hike 2-3 miles during some half-days.
Lodging will be double occupancy at a no-frills motel in Sierra Vista. Any fees for Nature Conservancy areas or hummingbird viewing areas will be included.
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