Date: 12/6/17 5:00 pm
From: Tim Helentjaris <tnhelentjaris...>
Subject: [AZNMbirds] Peck Canyon, just north of Rio Rico
Was out scouting this area in preparation for the Atascosa CBC. I had this area last year but not the section deeper into the upper canyon, so I wanted to check out access and what kind of birds might be around. If you haven’t been here, and most of you haven’t, it’s a bit out of the way, the directions are a little complex. Using the excellent directions from the CBC organizers, you take the Peck Canyon exit off of I19, then north on the frontage road to Peck Canyon Road. Now if you’re like me you would think you just drive that road up the canyon and you’re birding, but unfortunately the lowest end of the canyon is blocked by private property. So instead you have to loop around the top to the north and drop back down into the canyon. From Peck Canyon Road, take a right onto Circulo Sombrero, a right from there onto Circulo Jacona, a left onto Jalapa Court, a left onto Via Iguana, and finally a left onto Monsoon Court which crosses the Forest Service Boundary and takes you into the canyon area. The Pipeline road can then be taken to drop you into the canyon proper. Whew, confusing but it gets you there. The way in is alright until you drop down into the canyon and then you will definitely need a high clearance 4WD or you could just walk down.

Initially, you’re on a tableland of grasses and scattered mesquites. Last year it was good for sparrows, today not so much, just a LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE and meadowlark. Dropping down into the canyon bottom, there are a lot of trees and shrubby areas with many of the species typical of oak-juniper foothills and flanking Sonoran uplands. One of my first birds this morning, I heard a gnatcatcher that sounded intriguing and in the right habitat? Finally pished in a bird, darn, a female with white tail and a seemingly longer bill but I am always uncomfortable with this call? Luckily a male came in as well with a dusky remnant of a cap coming well below the eye, so BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHERS! These were probably the best birds of the morning, otherwise, BEWICK’S, ROCK, and CANYON WRENS, along with BRIDLED TITMOUSE, RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, CANYON TOWHEES, well, you get the picture, the usual suspects, although I did have a somewhat challenging Empid that I worked out to a HAMMOND’S FLYCATCHER. All-in-all, an interesting area, and given past CBC results, it can produce some surprises.

Tim Helentjaris
Tucson, AZ

"Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else.”
- Will Rogers

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