New Year's tour of San Francisco Peaks high country
1 Jan 2018, 5:01 PM,
New Year's tour of San Francisco Peaks high country
Taking advantage of the lack of snow, Chuck LaRue and I did some exploration in the high country of the San Francisco Peaks to see what winter has brought in. Our route was to hike up Abineau Canyon and explore the area above the Waterline Trail. Weather was unbelievable for January 1: relatively warm with no wind, even at very high elevation; only a little snow on the ground in shady areas.

We had a good day of birding, but didn't see anything too unusual. Highlights included:
- 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls near the trailhead
- about a dozen Golden-crowned Kinglets in lower Abineau canyon
- 1 male American 3-toed Woodpecker
- about 65 Red Crossbills in 3 separate flocks in the upper canyon, birds included a mix of "Type 2" (Ponderosa) and some other very different sounding birds that I think might be "Type 5" (Lodgepole) types. Unfortunately, freezing fingers kept me from making any recordings.
- good numbers of Clark's Nutcrackers, 1 Cassin's Finch, 2 Evening Grosbeaks, and the usual nuthatches, chickadees and juncos.

A hoped-for bird on our trip was any of the Rosy-finches. This didn't happen, but there is an amazing amount of potential habitat for them. In a year when they are more irruptive (which doesn't seem to be the case yet this winter) any of the high elevation hikes in the Peaks have good potential.

San Francisco volcano field:

Alpine habitat in upper Abineau Canyon:

Lousy shot of 3-toed Woodpecker:

Lousy shot of back-lit Red Crossbills:

A great way to start 2018, but hopefully those mountains will get covered with snow soon!

Flagstaff, AZ
2 Jan 2018, 5:41 AM,
RE: New Year's tour of San Francisco Peaks high country
The trail was as dusty as June. Grim.

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