21 Nov 2017, 9:05 PM,
This afternoon (11/21/17) while showing my dad around Bonito Prairie (Navajo/Apache Counties) south of Whiteriver, I found a handful of McCOWN'S LONGSPURS around East Bonito Prairie Tank on the Navajo Co. portion, apparently a first county record. Just to the east on the Apache Co. part of Bonito Prairie along Indian Rt. 71 we found two EASTERN BLUEBIRDS that kept flushing along the fence line, apparently only a 2nd county record and probably the first photo documentation. Flocks of CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPURS were visiting East Bonito Prairie Tank and the nearby area, we flushed singles of AMERICAN PIPIT, VESPER SPARROW, and EASTERN MEADOWLARK along the roads, and we saw a couple of FERRUGINOUS HAWKS and a few PHAINOPEPLAS (the latter visiting mistletoe in oaks) at the north end of the prairie, along with ~26 pronghorns on the grasslands. We also saw MEXICAN JAYS at the north end of the prairie and heard one above the rim of Big Bonito Creek at Rt. 71. Earlier in the morning we had six BRIDLED TITMICE and 30+ CASSIN'S FINCHES at the Rt. 55 bridge (East Fork Rd.) over the North Fork of the White River in the town of Whiteriver. In the mid-afternoon while driving back through Whiteriver I spotted a MERLIN and a MEXICAN JAY flying over. West of Show Low in the community of Linden (Navajo Co.) a FERRUGINOUS HAWK was sitting in a fallow field, a location I have seen the species a few previous winters. The region was smoky and hazy from prescribed burns, but it was a pleasantly warm late fall day checking out a scenic, extremely under-birded area of Arizona! Here's the link to my East Bonito Prairie Tank list if you want to see the mapped location:

*Note: this is on the White Mountain Apache Reservation and tribal outdoor recreation permits are required. You can purchase them at the convenience store or the outdoor shop at Hon-dah just east of Pinetop. The permit prices have changed to a per person fee of $9 per day for the general outdoor recreation permit. The former online permit purchasing system is currently unavailable.

Good birding,

Eric Hough
Wickenburg, AZ

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