Monday, February 11, 2013

Big January Birding in Santa Cruz County

1. Hammonds fly-kab Hammond’s Flycatcher 1-13-13

On January 13 Chris Rohrer and I headed south to Santa Cruz County to see what we could find as we continued our Big January count.

2. amado pond-kab We started the day at the Amado Sewage Pond right off I-19 where we found 2 Lesser Scaup in with all the ring-necked ducks, ruddy ducks, and mallards.


3. WCsp-kab Our next stop was in Tubac for coffee and breakfast. Our plans were to head south to the Tumacacori Mission next but we decided to give the Santa Cruz County Park in Tubac a try. I had only been here one time before when I lived here over 3 years ago. You have to drive down through Tubac to get to it and as soon as we turned onto the dirt road leading to the park we started to see birds! I rolled down the windows and slowed the car down as we watched and photographed birds out the windows, using the car as a blind.

4. verdin-kab Once we entered the parking lot we got out and wandered around the park where we found flycatchers, verdin and sparrows.

5. swamp sp-kab We discovered a fenced-off wetlands area to the south and found a swamp sparrow sitting on the fence! This was a real treat to see and add to our list. Later when I entered the count into eBird I discovered this was an eBird Hotspot and they have it labeled as Robert Morris Park.

6. bridled tit-kab After circling the park we walked back out onto the dirt road where we found Bridled Titmice…

7. nofl-kab …and a pair of Northern Flickers!


8. rwsp-kab Our next stop was the Tumacacori NHP where we found a small flock of Rufous-winged sparrows in the hedgerows out back.


9. ocwa-kab An Orange-crowned warbler fed among weeds in the courtyard.


10. noca-kab A northern Cardinal sipped from the rivulet flowing from the fountain.


11. lasp-kab This Lark Sparrow was much bolder and flew right up to the fountain to drink!

A half mile south of the mission on the frontage road is another eBird Hotspot. It is called St. Gertrudis Lane and you must park in the dirt parking area and walk in on the dirt road as it is a private road. But, it leads to the Santa Cruz River and the De Anza Trail. Many good birds are seen along this road but we did not see too many today.

12. nomo-kab However, we did find a Northern Mockingbird!


13. buckthorn-kab The road was lined with bright pyracantha bushes.


14. abto-kab While in the duff below the Abert’s Towhees fed!


15. feha-kab We followed the frontage road south and found this Ferruginous Hawk on a pole near the Rio Rico Agricultural fields. We stopped and took several pictures but I could not get in a position where the wires were not cutting across the bird’s face.

16. feha in tree-kab The hawk soon tired of our observations and flew further south into a tree. When I entered this species into eBird I discovered it was unusual to see it in this area. Thankfully both Chris and I had good photos as documentation and the record was accepted!


17. lesa-kab In the flooded fields near the Rio Rico Ponds we found Least Sandpipers.


18. merlin-kab But the best bird of the day was this Merlin I spotted atop a tall tree along Pendleton Road. Chris had been searching for a Merlin for months and it had always eluded him. Now here it was in all its glory and he was able to get wonderful pictures! I pulled the car off the road and snapped a few myself!

We ended the day at Pena Blanca Lake. By now the sun had set and the shadows were long and deep. Not the best for photography and we did not stay long, but the beauty of that place made us make a promise to ourselves that we would return and explore it again another day. It was a full day of birding in Santa Cruz County but well worth the time and effort!



  1. Nice Kathie! Great diversity for a day's birding.

  2. Replies
    1. Mia, we had so much fun! It was hard to stop but the sun went down!

  3. Congratulations on another successful day! Love the photo of the verdin!

  4. Love that little Verdin with its red shoulders showing!

    1. Robert, I liked the shot too! I think it captured their pugnacious personalities!

  5. Sounds like a great day. Your photos are stunning as always. The Verdin is my favourite shot - brilliant.

    1. Celeste, I am so glad you liked it. can you believe I almost didn't include it! But I did because I liked it!


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.