Date: 12/27/17 12:27 pm
From: Tim Helentjaris <tnhelentjaris...>
Subject: [AZNMbirds] Freznal Canyon - Coronado Nat For
The impetus for this trip came from a talk with a stranger in a bar over a beer, who talked of some lands to the west I had never been to yet. Well, I exaggerate just a bit, it actually was in the Time Market, but I had just met Charles Corson and over a beer, we were discussing some planned cuckoo surveys in Buenos Aires NWR. He mentioned a canyon east of there on the border with Coronado NF that might harbor cuckoos and be worth checking. Since I had never been to this area, west of Ruby Road and east of Sasabe, I set out to do a little exploring there this morning.

To get to this area, you can either drive east out of Sasabe or as I did this morning, drive south and then west from Arivaca, starting out on Tres Boletas Road. The entire way through is passable with a high clearance vehicle, 4WD might only be necessary in the wet season. There is a good chance for confusion here as the roads are mislabeled on some maps. The starting road, which splits off from Ruby Road just south of Arivaca, is sometimes called Tres Boletas and sometimes Fragutta. The intersection is well-signed, take the right fork. If you think you'd take Tres Boletas all the way to Sasabe as some maps suggest, again you would be wrong. Tres Boletas eventually ends at the border and the same-named ranch, you have to take a fork to the right before there signed as Tres Boleras Road.

After dropping over a low pass, you end up in upper Freznal Canyon. Don’t Google this, it will show you a point on the west side of Baboquivari Peak for some reason. Any way, you’re driving through an area of oaks with scattered mesquites and grasses, although the latter are grazed down a bit up here. Birds of this area were pretty much as expected for lower oak habitat with ARIZONA WOODPECKER, etc. After a while the canyon widens out into a scattered mesquite and grassland Chihuahuan desert type. I drove this to the border and an area with riparian characteristics denoted as Gil Tank. A short ways from the border, I walked down to inspect the non-wall, Trump would be appalled, and then headed back up canyon. Must have tripped a sensor or something as within 15 minutes a BP Blackhawk came roaring over and circled low around me a few times. Not sure how to signal that I’m just a geezer birder? Shortly afterwards they vectored a vehicle in to me as well. Guess they don’t get a lot of visitors down this ways, although I did see a neat pair of abandoned carpet slippers in the wash?

A number of wet spots and a check dam through here with a few larger trees. Did get a number of birds to come into the water pools below the dam, nothing out of the ordinary, NORTHERN CARDINALS, PYRRHULOXIAS, CANYON TOWHEES, LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER, etc. Did hear an unfamiliar low rattle and finally ran it down to find a begging juvenile RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW wanting to be fed from its parents, seemed a little late. In general I didn’t see anything through here that suggested to me that it might be any more productive for birding than a lot of other spots that are more convenient and I think I prefer the canyons to the east and higher up. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if someone spent some time camping in these back canyons and found a nightjar or some other interesting bird.

Tim Helentjaris
Tucson, AZ

“When you own the facts, you argue the facts. When you don't own the facts, you argue the law.”
- Michael Hayden, former CIA Director

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