Date: 1/1/18 5:43 pm
From: Andrew Core <tucsonrba...>
Subject: [AZNMbirds] se AZ: Sonoita Creek - Elegant Trogons
Joan Lucas emailed to report a pair of Elegant Trogons along Sonoita Creek
downstream of the Patagonia Lake Dam. The area (described below) would be
about a 2 mile hike from the west end (Rio Rico entrance) or 5.5 miles from
the dam.

Patagonia Lake annotated map:

Here is Joan's description, edited slightly by me:
On 12/30 I walked down the wash from the house and a way up Sonoita Creek,
looking for birds and water. About a 20 minute walk upstream from where my
wash comes in I stopped to look at a bird. That bird disappeared, but
another flew out and landed on an open branch about 25 feet from me. It
was a female elegant trogan. I was astonished, but there was no doubt.
After standing there a few minutes I thought to try a photo, as I didn’t
expect anyone would believe me. Of course as soon as I moved to do that
she moved further into the bush, still visible but not ok to photograph.
At the same time her mate flew to the original branch where he only stayed
a short time before following her.

There is a fence across the creek with a gate just where I get to it, and a
house on the bluff above the creek. Lots of footprints on the trail, which
continues in both directions from the gate. The birds were about a (slow)
20 minute walk upstream from the fence.

I dug out the little map the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area put out and
tried to figure out the distance from that. They say 7.5 miles from the
parking lot at the dam to the Rio Rico end, of which 3 miles is from the
Sonoita Creek campsite/Cat Cave trail junction to the Rio Rico end. My
judgement from that map is that the birds were not more than a mile west of
the junction mentioned above, so about 5.5 miles from the dam end. The
fence and gate I mentioned look like they mark the west end of the Sonoita
Creek State Natural Area, if you happen to have that map, also a spot where
the creek is narrow going east and much wider going west. I birded 20
minutes upstream from that gate to where the birds were. The creek is dry
there, but a few hundred yards east (you have to go behind a little rock
outcropping between the trail and creek to see the spot), it is running.
There’s also a good sitting log immediately next to the trail, about 8 feet
long, just 75 or so feet west of where the birds were. That’s about the
best I can do for directions without going there, hope it helps!

This AM I was birding at Rio Rico Golf Club and met the guy who built the
birding trail there. I asked him about access to the Sonoita Creek trail
from the Rio Rico end, he thought it was available. So I went there (end
of Coatimundi Dr., next to Golf Course) to check. There is a locked auto
gate there, but there is an open walk-thru gate to the right. 100 yards
further there is another car gate, not locked but with a sign to please
close the gate. Same as sign at gate I went thru further up. So it seems
to be open.

From there it’s about 1 1/2 miles to the next gate that I went thru, and
about another 1/2 mile or so to the bird location, much closer than the
other end.

thanks Joan!

Andrew Core
SEAZ RBA Compiler - Tucson, AZ

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