We started birding early the next day, arriving at Portal Road at around 6:30. We pulled out at a few spots, but for the mainly just drove slowly, picking up whatever we could. This of course, being a new location for me, included several lifers, mainly a distant Varied Bunting, and Botteri’s Sparrow. Also sighted along the road included a few Black-tailed Gnatcatchers, Canyon Towhees, a group of Scaled Quail (affectionately known to the group as Quailed Scale) around twenty Black-throated Sparrows, and several Cassin’s Sparrows.
Chiricahuas in Morning Light
Having knocked out several of our targets for the day, we made a stop along the way to the Desert Museum to get better looks at Lilian’s Meadowlark, a subspecies of Eastern Meadowlark that theoretically could be split in the coming years. Once at the Desert Museum, a lone hummingbird stood out to us, very small in size, and just in general a weird location. This hummingbird turned out to be an Adult Male Calliope Hummingbird, not a given for the trip, and gave the first decent looks that I have had of a male of the species.
We then went to “Stateline Road”, a road that directly forms the state border between New Mexico and Arizona. In the distance on the Arizona side, a single Bendire’s Thrasher (lifer for most of the group) perched up on a century plant. A few Cassin’s Sparrows were also present and gave not incredible looks. We then made a stop at what appeared to be an abandoned baseball field and park in Rodeo, New Mexico. Good views of a roadrunner were perhaps the main attraction here, but a Ladder-backed Woodpecker was also a nice addition to the list here. On the horizon, we saw a distant thunderstorm rolling in and decided to go back to the Desert Museum so that we would not be stuck out in the rain.
Cactus Wren in the Herp Garden
We checked out the museum’s rattlesnake collection and herp garden while waiting, and before long the rain arrived. It’s strange as a San Diegan, to experience a hard downpour for a good thirty minutes, as here we are all accustomed to a brief drizzle at most. I enjoyed this quite intense thunderstorm while I could, and before long, we were all back on the road, headed back to the ranch for lunch. We had another long break in the afternoon, before going to the town of Portal, and then back to the campground to give the trogons another go. We made a brief stop in a nearby neighborhood to find a pair of nesting Thick-billed Kingbirds before continuing on to make a snack stop in Portal. At the general store in Portal we found a brilliant red Summer Tanager, as well as numerous other Chiricahua locals.
We were on the way to the campground when it somebody in the other van discovered that they had left something back at the Portal general store. We, on the other hand, continued at a slower rate toward the campground. Of course, given the group was separated at the time, a pair of Montezuma Quail showed up 100 feet in front of the van. We laughed while one stood beneath a deer, before beelining off the road at the sight of an oncoming car. Unfortunately, the other half of the group was not present before the birds left, and we had to keep going after about five minutes of waiting.
Montezuma Quail document shot
At the campground, we missed the Elegant Trogons this time, possibly due to time of day and the recent rains. We then went back to the ranch for dinner, before heading out again to find some nocturnal reptiles and insects. On the drive, we found a few scorpions and toads, including Couch’s and Mexican Spadefoots, and Woodhouse’s Toad. Back at the ranch however, we found a baby Western Diamondback Rattlesnake before going to bed, as tomorrow we would go up to Barfoot Park in search for Mexican Chickadee.