Date: 3/8/17 2:27 pm
From: Tim Helentjaris <tnhelentjaris...>
Subject: [AZNMbirds] Rock Corral Canyon - Santa Cruz county
Spent all morning in Rock Corral Canyon on a little pre-season scouting as well as to look for Five-striped Sparrows that have been reported there for the first time this winter. I have struggled (sucked) at finding this species in the winter, thought I would give it another try. I always though the habitat looked good in this drainage for this species, so it was pretty exciting when they were finally found here. Have been wanting to get back in and check out their locations.

Road in is still rough, absolutely requiring a high-clearance 4WD vehicle, at least for the first 0.7 miles where it then smoothes out a bit. Stopped at the obvious campsite near the corral, ~2 miles in from the highway, and began working up canyon. RUFOUS-WINGED SPARROWS are active and noisy all through here, but it was also exciting to hear a singing CASSIN’S SPARROW on my way back out. In about one mile, you come to a large square concrete tank, which is where the birds were first seen. In about another 0.25 miles, you will see a large downed tree with a white bucket, near the location where they were later refound. I worked this whole area, both up and down, and my luck continues, was unable to refind this bird, but not that surprising this time of year. Waded through a bunch of mixed sparrow flocks, primarily CHIPPING SPARROWS, DARK-EYED JUNCOS and also some very bright LINCOLN’S SPARROWS. Despite working these slopes pretty carefully, was only able to draw out some RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROWS. Also had a couple of pairs of BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS in this drainage, nice to be able to compare them with nearby BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHERS for their differing field marks. The BtGn males had very obvious black caps on them, while on the BcGn’s I did not note this, not sure if there are differences in seasonal molts? Also had a confusing empid that I was eventually able to key out to a DUSKY FLYCATCHER, obvious oval eye ring, mostly olive and with no contrast on the nape, long tail with white edging, and an emphatic “whit” call.

Before getting back to the trailhead, I took a turn-off to the southeast signed “4876”. Never been up this branch before and I thought it looked like it might have some productive slopes again for FsSp. A short ways in, there was a slope with the right kind of habitat, actually looked very promising. Tried to drum up a FsSp, but only was able to draw out some more RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROWS from the hillside, although I did have a too-quick glance at a larger sparrow with a brown top-side. Unfortunately, couldn’t get a look at the head, so wasn’t able to really determine what it was. Will give this branch another try the next time I get down there though.

Tim Helentjaris
Tucson, AZ

If you can only be good at one thing, be good at lying... because if you're good at lying, you're good at everything.
- John LeFevre





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