Today it was a great pleasure to spend the last day of the year birding with Darlene Smyth. Darlene introduced me to a site which goes by a number of names including The El Rio open space preserve, Marana lake, Coachline pit and Marana disk golf course. It's that flooded area adjacent to the Santa Cruz river alongside N Coachline Blvd close to the N Silverbell Road intersection. The site didn't exist as a lake and wasn't recognized as a birding site when I lived in Tucson in the 90s, so today was my first visit. I was impressed.
The highlight of the day was a very obliging and very active NORTHERN PARULA. Other warblers included 2 or 3 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, 1 male COMMON YELLOWTHROAT and bucketfuls of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS.
Birds seen while we were lost in a wilderness of spiky, unfriendly and painful plants included BARN OWL, 2 HOUSE WREN, 2 or 3 HERMIT THRUSH and 4 OREGON JUNCO.
A NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, 2 ROCK WREN, about 10 LARK SPARROW and a hunting female NORTHERN HARRIER were nice to see from the paved footpath/bike trail overlooking the area.
The site is a wetland area so I should probably mention some of the wetland species we saw. These included 2 GREAT BLUE HERON and 1 each of GREAT EGRET, SNOWY EGRET, GREEN HERON and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON. There were 5 stints of which 4 were clearly LEAST SANDPIPERS and although I'm not convinced, we were just starting to consider the possibility of the fifth bird being a Western when I spotted the Parula. We never got back to the stints again. Not having seen any American stints for over 7 years has left me rusty on them. I'm much more familiar with Red-necked and Long-toed Stints these days. There was also a single KILLDEER present. The only ducks present were MALLARD, GADWALL and NORTHERN SHOVELER.
We finished the day with a brief visit to Catalina Regional Park, north of The Catalina State Park. The highlight at this site was a GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE. We spotted 2 HARRIS'S HAWK nearby to the site.
Good Birding in 2018 for everyone
NIGEL CROOK Bird Guide, Personal Guiding and Tours. Currently specializing in Sumatra, Indonesia and South East Asia. Current Hand Phone/Mobile Number: (520) 358 8274
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