Lifer Denoted by Bold
The 6th day of Camp Chiricahua was bound to be an exciting one. We were set to head towards the town (really closer to small settlement) of Paradise as well as go up into the Chiricahua highlands where we would look for, among other things, Mexican chickadee.
As we drove down the Portal-Paradise Road, we stopped to bird at a number of spots. A good number of Scott’s orioles as well as the first seen canyon wren of the trip and a flyby Calliope hummingbird were all excellent birds (as was a distantly calling Montezuma quail which filled the quota we had been able to maintain of encountering this species on a daily basis), but the real highlight of the road was a distantly singing varied bunting. The bunting was stunningly gorgeous (especially in the morning light) and elicited a number of shocked reactions from campers as we all got views from a scope.
Continuing into the town of Paradise itself, we stopped at the George Walker House where we were to watch the feeder setup on the property. This is the best place in the Chiricahuas (and one of the best in SE AZ) for juniper titmouse and we were hoping that some would come in while we were there.
We were not disapointed and during our time at the house we had two titmice as well as many hummingbirds (including yet another Calliope), an Arizona woodpecker, and a number of other nice feeder birds.
After leaving the George Walker House (and the creepy-looking, falling apart, taxidermy Steller’s jay in the bathroom) we continued on down the road towards East Turkey Creek and the Mexican chickadees which reside there.
Before we had actually reached the spot where we had planned to look for chickadees, we pulled over onto the side of the road for someone had heard what they thought could be them. They turned out to be right and, upon getting out of the vans, we were greeted by a small flock of Mexican chickadees! Following them up slope, we encountered a few other good birds as well including painted redstarts (the first we had had since leaving the Catalinas), Grace’s warbler (again the first since Mt. Lemmon), and a few yellow-eyed juncos.
We were very happy to have gotten the chickadees there for not only are they one of the most sought-after birds in North America but, as we continued up the mountain, the imminent monsoon made it clear that continuing would not be safe.
On the way back down the mountain, we (of course) had another group of Montezuma quail. We then headed down to South Fork to eat lunch. While at South Fork, we also found a rattlesnake and (while trying to refind the snake) some hieroglyphics along a rock face in a small cave.
We then spent the rest of the afternoon casually birding around Cave Creek Canyon, hoping the whole time for trogons. We never did find trogons but I finally was able to pick up my lifer sulphur-bellied flycatcher.
It was a great way to end our time in the Chiricahua Mountains.