Where I've been/What I've seen
Wow! I forgot this blog existed! Alright here goes nothing.
As mentioned aforehand, our next morning was spent at the world-famous Ramsey Canyon, at the time home to not one, not two, but three ABA code 3-4s. We had a pretty early start, such that we would be done in the early-afternoon after hiking up to the Tufted Flycatcher spot (which, unfortunately, had been sporadic at best in recent days). We arrived at the trailhead, and while the leaders checked-in with The Nature Conservancy staff, we were lectured on some of the history and species seen within the Ramsey Canyon Preserve. Our first stop along the trail was a brief check of the feeders right outside the visitor center. Unexpectedly, we saw a Violet-crowned Hummingbird on one of them, prompting one of the leaders (I believe Michael) to state something along the lines of, "Not many people can claim they got their first Violet-crown in the ABA, not at the Paton house." We began to walk up the trail, keeping our eyes and ears open to any bird we saw along the way. As we hiked up in elevation, we could notice some of the habitat changes that occur within Ramsey, from smaller trees toward the bottom to larger conifers toward the top.
Today would be the first of two days in the Huachuca Mountains, and the beginning of the ABA Rarities of the trip (3+). Our birding for the day started at around 7:30, and we would be at Hunter Canyon (Upper Trail) for about three hours. Our target bird here was to be a Rufous-capped Warbler, a rarity pretty much exclusive to southeast Arizona, and a target bird for many on the trip. On the way up to the shady area where the warbler had been reported, we spotted birds such as Greater Pewee, Scott's Oriole, and quite a few other species that we had either limited looks at previously, or were flat out firsts for the trip. There was also a bit more cooperative Black-throated Gray Warbler, and quite a few Dusky-capped Flycatchers on the hike up. Once we reached the shaded area, we took a break for water and sat down off to the side of the trail for about fifteen minutes, and were considering continuing onward before somebody stated: "I might have it." It took a while for everyone to see the bird, as it was at first in a very dense shrub. The bird then vanished, and we waited for a reappearance for what was probably another fifteen minutes before we heard it calling. The bird was perched nicely right out in the open, not terribly far off the trail, but just out of range for decent photos (the lighting was not optimal either). The bird sat there for a while, allowing us to study it through field sketching. We decided to hike down before it heated up, as it was already about eighty degrees out.
Our next stop was a Private Residence which usually has a Lucifer Hummingbird over near Ash Canyon. Unfortunately, we missed this species while we were here, but we did hear a Montezuma Quail calling in the distance, along with a Loggerhead Shrike perched on top of a dead snag. The yard was also a haven for butterflies and beetles, so we saw quite a few species of both.
After a quite successful morning and early afternoon, we took a break until after dinner, when we would go owling. The leaders had received a tip on a good spot for both Whiskered Screech and Elf, so we decided to go there. We were not disappointed. Not only did we hear both of those species, but also a Mexican Whip-poor-will, a lifer for me. This was a great day to end our time in the camp’s namesake mountains, and were most certainly some of the most enjoyable days of the trip for me.