Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
25 Mar 2012, 11:56 AM,
#1
Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
Every spring starting in late March I make weekly visits to the Cave Springs campground and vicinity to survey spring migration. Rather than start a new thread after every visit, I will just add the results of each week's survey as comments to this post.

With its variety of habitats, presence of water and sheer beauty, Cave Springs seldom disappoints. Today the big treat was an American Dipper just upstream of the bridge to the campground. The first of the migrants were there, including painted redstarts and a pair of common black-hawks. Here's the complete list.

Common Merganser 2
Great Blue Heron 4
Common Black-Hawk 2
White-throated Swift 5
Acorn Woodpecker 2
Hairy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 5
Black Phoebe 2
Steller's Jay 2
Violet-green Swallow 2
Mountain Chickadee 1
Bridled Titmouse 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
House Wren 2
American Dipper 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5
American Robin 2
Painted Redstart 2

I usually go either Saturday or Sunday morning and always enjoy company. Send me a message via azbird if you'd like to join me on any given weekend.
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31 Mar 2012, 2:14 PM,
#2
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
This morning's thrill was a perched male rufous hummingbird flashing its glittering gold gorget in the bright sun. I'm used to seeing them in the late summer when they're more about getting surly with our broad-taileds over feeder rights. The other nice sighting was a couple of male wood ducks. Russ Benford showed me those in the creek's flat water just south of the campground. Also saw six black-necked gartersnakes all slithering around together in the old orchard.

Wood Duck 2
Mallard 2
Great Blue Heron 3
Turkey Vulture 3
Osprey 1
Common Black-Hawk 2
Broad-tailed Hummingbird 3
Rufous Hummingbird 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Acorn Woodpecker 1
Hairy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 6
Black Phoebe 1
Steller's Jay 4
Violet-green Swallow 7
Mountain Chickadee 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
House Wren 7
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
American Robin 5
Lucy's Warbler 4
Painted Redstart 7
Spotted Towhee 1
Dark-eyed Junco 1
House Finch 2
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31 Mar 2012, 6:02 PM,
#3
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
I think I mis-ID'd the snakes again just like I did last year. I sent a photo to Erika Nowak. She says, ..."these look like western terrestrial gartersnakes (wandering subspecies), Thamnophis elegans vagrans." Works for me.
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31 Mar 2012, 9:36 PM,
#4
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
My list for this weekend (similar, but with a few additions):

Common Merganser 1
Great Blue Heron 2
Common Black-Hawk 1
Broad-tailed Hummingbird 1
Acorn Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 1
Black Phoebe 1
Steller's Jay 2
House Wren 2
American Robin 4
Lucy's Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 1
Painted Redstart 8
Lincoln's Sparrow 2 (I have never seen one of these here before)
Dark-eyed Junco 2






Pics:


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1 Apr 2012, 1:35 PM,
#5
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
Here's one of two WODUs we spotted yesterday at Cave Springs. Thanks to John and Margaret Rubega for their keen eyes and good company!


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1 Apr 2012, 7:52 PM,
#6
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
Wood Ducks! I have never seen them there before.

Well, the great thing about Page Springs is that, this time of year, things change from day-to-day.

I was there today, 4/1/12 and saw almost a different crop of birds from yesterday.

A couple, such as Say's Phoebe and Brown Creeper, i have never seen there before:

American Robin
Anna's Hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Brown Creeper (Nice! I haven't seen one in a long time.)
Bridled Titmouse
Hairy Woodpecker
*Hammond's Flycatcher
House Wren
Mallard
Northern Flicker
Painted Redstart
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Say's Phoebe
Steller's Jay
White-breasted Nuthatch

Absent were Yellow Warbler, Lucy's Warbler and Great blue Herons. Go figure...

I also saw what I believe to be a FOS Hammond's Flycatcher. I know...it's time to blow the dust off my Empidonax Flycatcher ID skills (which leave a lot to be desired). Every year I try to spend as much time as I can working on them, but I still don't have much confidence.

I got out my "Advanced Birding" by Kaufman book and several other field guides, went down the ID points for each Empid and decided on Hammond's Flycatcher.

Oh, well... I have included pics below for verification. I tried to get pictures of as many angles as I could to study this bird.

Gary



Pics:


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5 Apr 2012, 6:40 PM,
#7
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
Are you going this Saturday because I was thing about going.
Sam Hough
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7 Apr 2012, 4:28 PM,
#8
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
The only new species for the week was yellow warbler, but a pair of them and a pair of painted redstarts put on a colorful show in a small conifer right in front of me. Sometimes birding's best moments are just the pure beauty of these wonderful creatures. Here's today's list:

Great Blue Heron 4
Turkey Vulture 3
Broad-tailed Hummingbird 3
Acorn Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 3
Black Phoebe 1
Steller's Jay 7
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
House Wren 18
American Robin 1
Lucy's Warbler 3
Yellow Warbler 3
Painted Redstart 14
Dark-eyed Junco 1
Lesser Goldfinch 1
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8 Apr 2012, 8:18 AM,
#9
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
I was warbler watching down at Cave Springs this weekend too, here are a couple shots:


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8 Apr 2012, 1:21 PM,
#10
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
Gary: Regarding the identification of Empidonax, from time to time I ponder advice I clipped from an rather old Tucson Audubon newsletter. Excerpts are:

Of the 3 species that are regularly seen (in SE AZ) one must be content with ending your ID with "Well, it's either a Hammond's or a Dusky" if that's all you can determine. Don't feel that you must end up with a singular choice. Don't make up your mind based on a single field mark.

The differences in size are minimal, but Hammond's is the smallest. It has a very tiny, almost all dark, bill and it's relatively long primaries make the tail appear short in comparison. It's head sits on it's head in "Bulgarian weightlifter" fashion with not much neck showing. Perched it seems to like flicking its wings and tail together, which seems to fit with it having the longer primary projection.

GrayFlycatchers are larger and heavier than the other two. Their short primary projection and longer tail make them look streched out and lanky. Their long, thin bill has a sharply defined dark tip. Unlike other Empidonax, Gray's pump their tails [/b][/i]down instead of up in a gentle manner. Although this is diagnostic make sure other characteristics agree.

When an empid isn't a Hammond's nor a Gray, then it's a candidate for being a Dusky. This species is hard to get a handle on as the bill is intermediate between the first two and the outer half of the underside dark. It flicks it's tail up like Hammond's, though not much accompanied by wing fluttering. It has a short primary projection making the tail appear to be long. It appears to a "classic" empid, looking average in most aspects.

I'll probably continue to ponder this information.

Elaine


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9 Apr 2012, 3:03 PM,
#11
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
Thanks Elaine,

I was at Cave Springs on Sunday, 4/8/12. I did not see any new arrivals. It was a very slow morning.

I did see the Hammond's Flycatcher again. The Great Blue Herons were tending to their nest and the only warblers I saw were Painted Redstart & Yellow Warbler.

House Wrens were singing away!

Gary


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10 Apr 2012, 8:09 AM,
#12
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
Lynn Yeager and I also stopped at Cave Springs on Sunday morning, 8 April, and saw/heard three Virginia's Warblers. It was great to hear all that spring bird song.
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24 Apr 2012, 1:05 PM,
#13
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
Gary has a great post from April 15 at Cave Springs. There was about 10 inches of fresh snow and he got beautiful warblers-in-the-snow pictures and an amazing couple of shots of a common merganser swallowing a sizable trout. Tom Linda and I were there earlier than Gary and found things pretty quiet, so we bailed and spent the rest of the morning birding Grasshopper Point. Here's our list from Cave Springs. The Lincoln's sparrow was the only unexpected bird.

Common Merganser 1
Great Blue Heron 2
Broad-tailed Hummingbird 1
Acorn Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 1
Empidonax sp. 1
Common Raven 1
Mountain Chickadee 1
House Wren 3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1
Hermit Thrush 1
American Robin 4
Virginia's Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 1
Painted Redstart 7
Lincoln's Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 1

Today I ran into Tim Weber at Cave Springs and spent a couple of productive hours with him birding north of the bridge to the campground and on both sides of the river. Tim had already birded south of the bridge and promises to add additional species to this post. Our big thrill was getting fantastic long looks at a pair of northern pygmy-owls. Tim heard them first and then tracked them down as they were being mobbed by Stellar's jays. Fantastic looks at very cool birds.

Here's my list:

Common Black-Hawk 2
Northern Pygmy-Owl 2
White-throated Swift 2
Broad-tailed Hummingbird 3
Northern Flicker 4
Black Phoebe 1
Plumbeous Vireo 2
Steller's Jay 7
Common Raven 2
Violet-green Swallow 9
House Wren 16
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
American Robin 2
Lucy's Warbler 2
Virginia's Warbler 2
Yellow Warbler 6
Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
Black-throated Gray Warbler 3
Painted Redstart 6
Spotted Towhee 2
White-crowned Sparrow 2
Dark-eyed Junco 2
Bullock's Oriole 1
Lesser Goldfinch 3
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25 Apr 2012, 11:17 AM,
#14
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
Boy, did we ever luck out on those pygmy owls; thanks to the mobbing jays they changed positions and appeared very close by.

I started the morning by walking to the campgrounds where there was more sun.

Grace's warblers 3
House wrens 8
Broad-tailed hummingbirds 4
Northern flicker 2
Yellow warblers 4
Lucy's warblers 2
Viloet-green swallows 9
Lesser goldfinch 6
Black phoebe 1
Dark-eyed junco 2
Great-blue herons 3 (one flew back and forth between nest tree and cliff to collect nesting material)
American robin 2
Stellar's jay 2
Plumbeous vireo 1
White-crowned sparrow 1
Stellar's jay 2
Painted redstarts 3
Hairy woodpecker 1
Warbling vireo 1

Have some blurry pictures of the owls, can post later. I'm busy packing for a trip to the Texas coast for migration. Hoping for weather and a fall out. Also looking forward to another walk with John. Great to meet you!
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25 Apr 2012, 12:45 PM,
#15
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012

Have some blurry pictures of the owls, can post later. I'm busy packing for a trip to the Texas coast for migration. Hoping for weather and a fall out. Also looking forward to another walk with John. Great to meet you!
[/quote]

WOW! I wonder if one of those owls was the one I saw there on New Years Eve?

I saw a pair of Lincoln's Sparrows there a couple of weeks ago. I don't believe that I have ever seen one there before.

Maybe I will wee you at the Texas Coast! I will be leaving tomorrow (I am already packed) to spend a few days in my old stomping grounds San Antonio to see family and friends (and bird around there) and then 5 days in South Texas (with my Texas birding buddy, Rey) and along the coast up to Corpus Christi.

I am super excited about this trip! In looking at the latest reports and radar observations on the Texas Birding blog, it does not look like any great weather system will pass through this week. We may have timed it right for next week!

I too, am hoping to see a fallout of some sort. If that's not in the cards, they are still seeing some great things there right now, anyway. I would like to break 400 species on my life list this year (I know that's not much compared to many others out there, but it is a goal of mine for this year). I could very well do it on this trip.

Good luck on your trip!

Gary
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2 May 2012, 4:27 PM,
#16
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
Ah, the marvelous month of May in Oak Creek Canyon! The songsters are whooping it up at Cave Springs, led by the newly arrived western tanagers, Bullock's orioles, and black-headed grosbeaks. Just to make things interesting, a male hepatic tanager and a male indigo bunting have arrived unusually early to add their songs to the mix.

I surveyed Monday, then camped overnight Tuesday, so the list below includes three days of sightings. Red-faced warblers are in, and I'm going to be looking again for what may have been a pacific/winter wren skulking in some blackberry brambles near the river at the extreme south end of Cave Springs, just before it becomes private property. I'm not confirming it until I (or you) hear the bird sing.

I didn't see a single empid in two days of birding, and I haven't seen a brown creeper in weeks. On the plus side, the common black-hawks are still hanging around, and a male Anna's hummingbird and a male magnificent hummingbird are coming to the feeder at the entrance station (be patient).

Unusual is a small flock of pinyon jays cruising around the uplands, and a drake wood duck (Russ Benford spotted two early in April) consorting with a female mallard in the flat water at the southern end of the camping area. No good can come of it.

Wood Duck
Mallard
Common Merganser
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Common Black-Hawk
Band-tailed Pigeon
Mourning Dove
White-throated Swift
Anna's Hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Acorn Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black Phoebe
Plumbeous Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Pinyon Jay
Steller's Jay
Common Raven
Violet-green Swallow
White-breasted Nuthatch
Pacific/Winter Wren (?)
House Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
American Robin
Lucy's Warbler
Virginia's Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Grace's Warbler
Red-faced Warbler
Painted Redstart
Spotted Towhee
Dark-eyed Junco
Hepatic Tanager
Western Tanager
Black-headed Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Brown-headed Cowbird
Bullock's Oriole
Lesser Goldfinch
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9 May 2012, 4:36 PM,
#17
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
A pleasant morning of birding Cave Springs with Bill Auberle, just back from the Dry Tortugas. A male/female pair of summer tanagers at the entrance station got the morning off to a good start. Otherwise nothing startling, but Wilson's warblers, hermit thrushes and western wood-pewees are in, and yellow warblers, house wrens and black-headed grosbeaks are all singing up a storm. Bill spotted a chick in one of the great blue heron nests, and the common black-hawks must be nesting since they're still around. I dropped off some updated checklists at the entrance station.

Here's the list:

Great Blue Heron 3
Turkey Vulture 5
Common Black-Hawk 2
White-throated Swift 3
Broad-tailed Hummingbird 9
Acorn Woodpecker 3
Hairy Woodpecker 3
Northern Flicker 4
Western Wood-Pewee 4
Gray Flycatcher 1
Black Phoebe 6
Plumbeous Vireo 3
Warbling Vireo 4
Steller's Jay 6
Common Raven 3
Violet-green Swallow 8
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
House Wren 16
Hermit Thrush 2
American Robin 7
Virginia's Warbler 2
Yellow Warbler 16
Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
Grace's Warbler 1
Wilson's Warbler 1
Painted Redstart 9
Spotted Towhee 1
Dark-eyed Junco 2
Summer Tanager 2
Western Tanager 5
Black-headed Grosbeak 15
Bullock's Oriole 2
Lesser Goldfinch 6
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13 May 2012, 1:10 PM,
#18
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
Nothing too unusual this morning, though black-headed grosbeak numbers are as high as I've seen. Western tanager numbers are building as well.

Great Blue Heron 6
Turkey Vulture 5
Common Black-Hawk 1
White-throated Swift 4
Black-chinned Hummingbird 1
Broad-tailed Hummingbird 7
Acorn Woodpecker 4
Northern Flicker 4
Empidonax sp. 1
Black Phoebe 4
Plumbeous Vireo 3
Warbling Vireo 5
Steller's Jay 5
Common Raven 2
Violet-green Swallow 12
Bridled Titmouse 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Brown Creeper 1
House Wren 21
American Robin 6
Virginia's Warbler 4
Yellow Warbler 14
Wilson's Warbler 1
Painted Redstart 5
Spotted Towhee 1
Dark-eyed Junco 2
Western Tanager 16
Black-headed Grosbeak 15
Indigo Bunting 1
Bullock's Oriole 3
Lesser Goldfinch 3
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14 May 2012, 9:53 AM,
#19
RE: Spring migration at Cave Springs (Oak Creek Canyon) 2012
I was there on 5/12/12. Nothing much more to report other than a lone Cedar Waxwing. I have never seen one here before.\

A full list:

Acorn Woodpecker
Anna's Hummingbird
American Robin
Black Phoebe
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Black-headed Grosbeak
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Cedar Waxwing
Great Blue Heron
Hermit Thrush
House Wren
Painted Redstart
Plumbeous Vireo
Spotted Towhee
Steller's Jay
Western Tanager
Western Wood Pewee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Yellow Warbler

Gary


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