Date: 6/20/18 12:07 pm
From: Tim Helentjaris <tnhelentjaris...>
Subject: [AZNMbirds] The Gulch
This time of year reminds me how much I enjoy getting to a favorite birding spot at the break of day, but conversely, it also reminds me how much I hate having to get up that early and drive all that way to make it happen. Headed down to California Gulch early this morning, starting around 6AM at the north entrance with the sun barely starting to rise over the eastern ridge line. I had studied hard beforehand, intending to inspect every Myiarchus along the drainage.

Ran into my first FIVE-STRIPED SPARROW just a half mile from the trail head. Wow, perched up on a tree in the bottom of the drainage, not 20 ft away and singing intensely to call my attention to him. He was on the east slope, as was another territory in less than a quarter mile. Again, very close and good views of a perched bird in the bottom of the drainage. I did pick up one of these later on my way out, but further up-slope and not in the open where I could actually see it, just detected by some infrequent singing, so perhaps there is some benefit to an early arrival this time of year?

Walked about a mile down to where Melody, Clint, and Cathy had reported the flycatcher that appears to be a Nutting’s Flycatcher, but my preparation probably undercut my odds and I was unable to re-find this bird. Though I did have plenty of opportunities to inspect a host of ASH-THROATED and BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHERS along the way, not to mention DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHERS as well, but all of them were paired, loud, carrying food, or all three and easily distinguished from a possible NuFl. I’ve never paid so much attention to tail and wing panel patterns, but perhaps it will pay off in the future.

Lot of other good birds, MONTEZUMA QUAIL, VARIED BUNTINGS, and some very noisy YELLOW-BREASTED CHATS and BELL’S VIREO’S, despite the lack of any water in the Gulch, not to mention anywhere down here. The Least Bittern pond on the way in after the turn-off appeared to be bone-dry as well. Also picked up a BLACK-CAPPED GNATCATCHER once I had gotten to the spring area, passing up a few of his BLACK-TAILED cousins along the way. Started off cool, but quickly warmed up, even down here, after the sun got a ways higher in the sky.

Tim Helentjaris
Tucson, AZ

“When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.”
- Steven Wright

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