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Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Little Time at Patagonia Sonoita Creek

Patagonia Sonoita Creek Sanctuary Visitor Center

Arrived in Patagonia today. Patagonia is not a sleepy little village in South America, but is a sleepy little town in Southeast Arizona. On the agenda today, as yesterday was visiting the Patagonia Sonoita Creek Nature Conservancy.

Was most impressed by a Gray Hawk
patiently sitting on its nest

Today I hiked the perimeter of the sanctuary, which again, was sure more than I intended to walk. It was rather warm so I just took my time and never stood around unless I was under the sheltering shade of trees. For starters, the birds seemed rather scarse along the trails. Not to say I didn't see Kingbirds, Flycatchers, a Yellow and several Audubon Warblers, but one thing was abundant - Butterflies. I took a path that meandered over a damp marshy area and found some tiny flutterbys, Marine Blues having a 'puddle party'. 

Marine Blues at Puddle Party
Tiny Checkerspots who did not participate in the
 Puddle Party, but they did a lot of air dancin'
The most astonishing difference between the sanctuary when I first visited it in 1999, and now is . At one point, a man walking the trails in the opposite direction of me, approached asking me, 'where is the creek?' I told him the surprising truth - Sonoita Creek is currently bone dry, at least on the preserve it is. I'd say the entire creek was dry but as I actually had to drive through the creek to reach the preserve, I know for a fact the Sonoita isn't completely dry in every spot.
One of many Wilson's Warbler, skulking through the trees

At the end of my hike I spent an hour sitting at a picnic table in the Visitor Center, staring like a house bound cat at the hummingbirds that use the center's feeders. 

A pretty, albeit unbalanced male Magnificent Hummingbird
Note the wasp on the left is darn near as large as the hummer
Slight rarity: female Blue-throated Hummingbird

I sat snapping pictures and starting at them, and it dawned on me one of the birds (seen below) was a female Blue-throated Hummingbird.I saw Blue-throats before so was surprised to find they are unusual on the preserve. I posted the bird as part of my eBird reporting and my sighting ended up on the week's Arizona Bird Alert. That should please me but it always makes me nervous I must have made a mistake in my ID.

If you have any delutions that I enjoyed peace as I observed the many humminbirds at the feeders, this Gilla Woodpecker below begs to differ with you. The bird screamed the entire time I was at the feeders. Tried to figure out what the bird wanted, but the answer seemed to be, a venue to scream in. I cut the bird some slack, because we've all had days like that, right?

Noisy Gila Woodpecker

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