We are finally settled into the Audubon Research Ranch in Elgin, Arizona after a hectic few days of figuring things out. Between figuring things out, we birded.
We spent a day off in Florida Canyon in hopes of getting a few their life Rufous-capped Warbler and some year birds. The plan worked great, and before long, we were seeing Black-chinned Sparrows, Rock Wrens and other fun desert-like birds. We finally bumped into the Rufous-capped Warblers which put on quite a show. Too bad the lighting wasn't better, but it was very enjoyable nonetheless.
We eventually found Hutton's Vireo and Olive Warblers, and the continuing Rufous-backed Robin to top it off.
We spent some time at Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson where highlights were Lawrence's Goldfinches, Summer Tanager, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Solitary Sandpiper, among other things. As always, this place was very birdy and a fun spot to be at!
Today, between scouting out two blocks for surveys, we hit the Patagonia area to get Garrett his lifer Black-capped Gnatcatcher. Little did we know what a PITA it is to seperate Black-capped and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in winter. I had seen Black-capped once before, in July 2006 with a VENT tour, but that bird wasn't exactly rocket science. This time, we found a silent gnaty, followed it forever, photographed the crap out of it, asked a few more experienced people about it, and conclude it is a Black-capped. It finally gave a few calls, but since we both have no experience with Black-capped calls, it didn't help much. Western Blue-gray calls are harsher than eastern, adding to the confusion.
We ended the weekend with quite a few new birds for the year, Garrett got a lifer and ABA bird. We even managed to get a flat tire a couple miles from the Mexican border in the middle of nowhere, luckily our less-than-adequate spare tire held up before we were headlines in the news.