Today would be a shorter day birding-wise just due to the lack of sleep that we had gotten that prior night. While most of us (including myself) woke up slightly later today, a few people decided to get an earlier start on birding Cave Creek. It turns out, that although we missed a few birds that they saw, we would see them within five minutes of being outside (Blue-throated Hummingbird most notably). A brief sample of the birds that we saw at these famous feeders included Curve-billed Thrasher, Arizona Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Mexican Jay, and Inca Dove. Squeezing in a lifer or two before breakfast is one thing, squeezing in a lifer while smashing the photos of it is a double bonus (thank you Blue-throat). Also at the feeders were several Bridled Titmouse and Broad-billed Hummingbirds (for some reason this was the species that took to longest to get a decent photo of on the trip).
We had some breakfast and then left for the campsite and research station. Our first stop at the campsite was quite productive. A short time there produced Sulfur-bellied Flycatcher (it actually sounds like a rubber duck), three species of myiarchus flycatchers, and a bright red male Hepatic Tanager. It started to drizzle a little bit, so we decided to go up to the Southwestern Research Station and stop at their hummingbird feeders. This was one of my favorite stops throughout the whole trip, just due to the proximity of the gigantic Blue-throated Hummingbirds, as well as the sheer number of hummingbirds here. I managed to get even more terrific shots of Blue-throated here, as well as seeing my first male Rivoli’s of the trip. The Research station had plenty of other birds outside of the hummingbirds, and here we found a Summer Tanager and three Yellow Warblers.
Our longest time spent birding, however, was just outside of the campground. On the way back from the research station, we rolled the windows down to both look and listen for Montezuma Quail, as well as Elegant Trogon. About halfway back, we heard what sounded like muffled laughter nearby. We hurriedly found a pullout and got out of the vans, all of us hoping to get a glimpse at one of the ABA’s most elusive birds. We were told as we walked along the rocks to be as quiet as possible (although having 15 people, that proved to be hard as all of us were walking essentially on gravel). Unfortunately, the bird seemed to keep drawing us farther and farther away, and as a result, we did not get looks for a good 45 minutes. We waited for a while without it calling, before deciding to head back to the vans, when suddenly we heard a Trogon in one of the trees in front of us. This trogon, unfortunately, was very skittish and picked very hard spots to find. Although I saw this bird, it proved too difficult to get photos of. After these three relatively short stops, we kind of ended the day at lunch so we could all get a well-deserved rest. I chose to spend my rest time lounging in one of the chairs by the feeders and managed to get some of my first decent Broad-billed Hummingbird photos of the trip. We also saw a Golden Eagle soaring above the ranch, a Rivoli’s Hummingbird which briefly came to the feeders, and locally uncommon Juniper Titmouse.
That evening, Michael gave us a brief class on describing bird sounds, something I found to be very helpful. That night, we had been informed of nesting elf owls in the area and went to check it out. We were not disappointed. Present were both an adult and juvenile Elf Owl, hard to see at first just due to their tiny size. We ended the day knowing that tomorrow would be a very long day along the Arizona and New Mexico border.