Huachuca Canyon, July 13, 2017

Fr. Charlie and I went to Huachuca Canyon on July 13, 2017. This is a beautiful canyon in the Huachuca Mountains in southeast Arizona.

We left on Wednesday evening around 5:30 and stayed at Sierra Vista for the night (at Sierra Vista Suites). We left for the canyon at 7 am on Thursday morning. To get to the canyon, you have to go through the Fort Huachuca army base. To get into the base you have to get an identification badge by stopping at the visitor center at the entrance.

Huachuca Canyon is a great spot. This is my second time there. It is home to some birds that can only be found in North America in this part of the country. Two sought after birds are the Elegant Trogon and the Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, and we were fortunate to see both. We heard a number of Elegant Trogons calling with their bark-like call. I would guess at one time we were surrounded by three or four. The Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers were nesting in a large Arizona Sycamore tree, actively feeding their chicks.

Fr. Charlie and I were separated for a bit, during which time I saw a Northern Parula. I was looking for the Arizona Woodpecker, and saw a little bird pass by quickly. I got some shots but couldn’t identify it. When I got it home on the computer it seemed clear to me that it was a Northern Parula. The problem is that Northern Parulas are rarely seen in the western U.S., and the last one reported at Huachuca Canyon was in 2013. I don’t like to report a rare bird for fear I’m wrong about it. This is the first time I’ve done it, but the photo seemed clear to me. I decided to submit it on ebird.org so somebody could tell me if I was wrong. I submitted it, and didn’t hear back that there was an error. However, nobody else has reported seeing it (this is called a ‘confirmation’ on ebird.org).

On the way home on Thursday afternoon we stopped at Sweetwater Wetlands north of Tucson. It is normally a good spot, but this time there was very little activity. I think this is because it was the hottest time of the day on an already hot day. Also, the wetlands seemed in a bit of disrepair to me, with reeds taking over the ponds, and a lot of algae on the ponds – like the water wasn’t moving enough.

It was a fun trip, and thanks to Father Charlie for inviting me to go with him.

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