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Field Trips

White Mountain Audubon members at Wenima Wildlife Area

2003 Archived Field Trip Reports

Fieldtrips are regularly held on the third Saturday of the month and meet in the parking lot of the McDonald's in Pinetop at 7:00 A.M. sharp. Special trips and afternoon fieldtrips are as scheduled. There are no regular trips in December, January, or February, but look for our Christmas Bird Count and other special events during the winter. For a schedule of upcoming trips, go to our Calendar. Bring binoculars and a scope if you have one. You should plan to bring a sack lunch, snacks and water for the day. Most fieldtrips last until the afternoon. All of our trips are open to the public. They are free with the exception of paying for rental vans or entrance fees on some occasions. Please plan to leave your pets at home. While on the trip please refrain from making loud noises. Most trips involve some moderate hiking. If you have any questions about fieldtrips email us. Hope to see you there!

FIELDTRIP REPORTS: 2003

Sunrise and Big Lakes Field Trip
October 18th, 2003

Eight members of White Mountain Audubon made the journey out to Sunrise Lake. Along the way, the usually green forest was alive with color. The aspen trees were showing off their fall wardrobe, with stunning yellow leaves and brilliant red accents. It was truly a beautiful sight.

The lake as hoped was full of waterfowl, with numbers exceeding 5,000 birds. There were Redhead, American Widgeon, Bufflehead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Northern Shoveler, Green-wing Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Pied-billed Grebe, Eared Grebe, and a lone Horned Grebe. On the way out a mixed flock of Mountain and Western Bluebirds gave us great views, and at least one Red Crossbill was seen.

We proceeded on over to Big Lake where there had been a Pacific Loon sighted in previous days. After about 5 minutes of scanning, we found it! Even though there were quite a few fishing boats around, the Loon seemed to not care. I still believe it was catching the fish the fishermen were trying to reel in! Birds also present were: Western and Clark's Grebes, Greater Scaup, Ring-billed Gull and American Pipit.

It was really a spectacular time to be up in the high elevations. The foliage was just fantastic and the weather was perfect.

North American Migration Counts
Navajo and Apache Counties
September 20, 2003

This year White Mountain Audubon held two North American Migration Counts (NAMCs) by fielding teams of counters in Navajo and Apache Counties.

The Bittorfs led the Navajo County team of six participants. It was a beautiful day to visit the wetlands of Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside. The team birded all day, and really put out a great effort. They began at Woodland Lake, and continued to Big Springs, Billy Creek, Rainbow Lake, Jacques Marsh, and ended up at Fool Hollow Lake State Park. The group found over 30 species, including Double-crested Cormorant, Ring-Necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Red Head, Canvasback, Osprey, Lewis' and Acorn Woodpeckers, and Plumbeous Vireo. Mary Ellen also turned up some interesting birds at her feeder for the count, including Rufous Hummingbird, Band-tailed Pigeon, and Hepatic Tanager.

The Apache County team focused on the Little Colorado River valley, with particular attention to the Important Bird Area. They started at Wenima, and went on to Becker Lake, Ender's Property, South Fork, River Reservoir in Greer, Sheep Crossing, White Mountain Reservoir, and stopped by Lyman Lake and St. Johns Wastewater treatment on the way home. The total for the Apache County team was 96 species. Some of the highlights were Eared Grebe, White-faced Ibis, Swainson's Hawk, Northern Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Red-necked Phalarope, Black-necked Stilt, Clark's Nutcracker, Phainopepla, Sage Thrasher, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Orange-crowned, Virginia's, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Gray, Townsend's, MacGillivray's, and Wilson's Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chat, Song, Lincoln's, White-crowned, Savannah, Chipping, Clay-colored, Brewer's, and Vesper Sparrows.

Thanks to everyone for making our first attempt to field two fall NAMC counts successful!

Wildflower Walk

On Saturday, August 2nd, Genice Froelich led a wildflower walk to Big Springs and Walnut Creek in Pinetop-Lakeside. The going was a little muddy, but we found some nice flowers. The riparian areas were the most productive. Around the bridge we found Gaura (sp.), Yellow Salsify (Tragopogon sp.), Purple Geranium (Geranium caespitosom), Checker Mallow (Sidalcea sp.), Phacelia (sp.), and Monkey Flower (Minulus sp.). In the dryer sites along the Big Springs trail we identified Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis), Mexican Hat (Ratibida columnaris), Mountain Gromwell (Lithospermum cobrense) and a Milkweed (Asclepias sp.).

We also ran across a few places in which Ladybugs had massed in clumps of grasses. There were thousands! In the forested areas we found Prairie Bluets (Hedyotis sp.), and Red Root Erigonium. The flowers along Walnut Creek were stunning. Some of the species there included Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium sp.), Richardson's Geranium (G. Richardsonii), Western Blue Flax (Linum perenne), Meadow Rue (Thalictrum sp.), Agrimony (Agrimonia sp.), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia Cardinalis), St. John's Wort (Hypericum formosum), and Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum). The birding-minded among us found a number of species including Lewis's Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Mountain Chickadee, Grace's Warbler and Blue Grosbeak. It was a really fun walk, and we all learned something. Many thanks to Genice for leading us, and to Loretta Pena for setting up this great trip!

Field Trip to Sierra Blanca
August 16th, 2003

We had a great turnout for this trip in which we made several stops in the high elevations before reaching Sierra Blanca. Our first stop was at Sheep Crossing where everybody got great looks at Lazuli Bunting, a pair of Olive-sided Flycatchers feeding fledglings, perched Osprey, and a Green-tailed Towhee. But it was an American Dipper wading along the nearby stream that really delighted the entire crew! For a cool, cloudy morning the birds were very active. Our next good stop was at Gabaldon Campground. Once again it was another birdy stop. We watched noisy Golden-crowned Kinglets feeding young in a spruce tree. We found Pygmy and White-breasted Nuthatches easily, but the Red-breasted Nuthatch was only seen by some. We continued on and had lunch at Sierra Blanca lodge. Sue Sitko of the Nature Conservancy gave an informative talk on the history of the property. Afterwards she led us on an exclusive tour of the lodge and grounds. We were impressed by the uniqueness and details of the buildings, but more impressed by the rareness of the species which the Nature Conservancy seeks to conserve at Boneyard Creek. Thanks, Sue, for this opportunity to see it up close! An oncoming storm cut our birding short, but other species seen at Sierra Blanca and the other high elevation stops were: Canada Geese, Black Phoebe, Say's Phoebe, Western Bluebird, Violet-green Swallow, Red-naped Sapsucker, Brown Creeper, Downy and Hairy Woodpecker, Dark-eyed Junco, Pine Siskin, Mountain Chickadee, American Kestrel, Hermit Thrush, Bushtit, Yellow-rumped, Virginia's, and Orange-crowned Warblers, and Red Crossbill.

A die hard crew continued on, even after getting rained out at Luna Lake, and stopped at Nelson Reservoir, where we saw: Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Virginia's Warbler, Yellow Warbler and MacGillivray's Warbler. Finally we ended up at Becker Lake in the rain and were astonished to find 75+ Black Terns, some in breeding plumage!!!! Also seen were: Snowy Egret, White-faced Ibis, Black-crowned Night Heron, Canada Geese, Sora, Peregrine Falcon, Osprey, and lots of Swallows. All-in-all a good day in the field with White Mountain Audubon.

Hummingbird Banding at Sipe July 19, 2003

White Mountain Audubon was very excited to sponsor Sheri Williamson, author of the Peterson's Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America at this very unique event. In cooperation with the Arizona Game and Fish Department it was held at the Sipe Wildlife Area near Springerville. Over 60 people attended. Visitors were astounded by the sheer numbers of hummingbirds. There were dozens of birds buzzing through the air and jostling each other at the numerous feeding stations throughout the day. We couldn't have asked for more hummingbirds! The species banded were Broad-tailed, Rufous, and Calliope. On-lookers were treated to an anatomy lesson while Sheri had the birds in hand. During the banding process, Sheri fanned the tails of the female birds to show their distinctive patterns.

We also got to see tongue musculature, and the fat deposits the birds use in migration. One of the great moments of the day was seeing a male Calliope's gorget up close. During the morning, Audubon led a couple of short birdwalks around the grounds. Among the bird seen were Western and Mountain Bluebirds, Western Kingbird, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Lazuli Bunting, Mallard, and Chipping Sparrow. After lunch Sheri gave a slideshow presentation on Hummingbirds. Her information-packed program gave everyone present a greater understanding and appreciation for these little birds. It was a great experience to have such an expert come to the White Mountains.

The Great White Mountain Audubon Campout 2003
June 20th - June 22nd

This year's campers came from Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott, and the White Mountains. Friday we all got acquainted, welcomed back some old friends, and set up camp. Our Saturday fieldtrip this year took us to Wenima and to the Montlure Camp near Amberon Point in Greer. Wenima was pleasantly warm after a chilly night. A colony of Cliff Swallows was nesting under the bridge. We found American Kestrel, Golden Eagle, Spotted Sandpiper, Black-headed Grosbeak, Blue Grosbeak, Western Meadowlark and Lesser Goldfinch. The Chats were calling all along the streamside trail. At the Montlure Camp we enjoyed walking the beautiful high elevation trail along the Little Colorado River. Unfortunately, the wind prevented us from seeing many birds. We did get glimpses of Golden-crowned Kinglet, Mountain Chickadee, and House Wren. We still had a good time identifying wildflowers and trees along the way.

Back at camp we all had lunch and a brief siesta before the naturalist's walk. On the outing we found several species of butterflies puddling. Along with several Western Tiger Swallowtails, there were Perseus Duskywing and an unidentified Skipper. The evening program began with an impromptu sing-a-long with Betty Youse on guitar. Bob Dyson of the U.S. Forest Service even got into the act before his presentation on forest health, fire conditions, grazing and public land management.

Sunday's walk around Burnt Mill Spring was a little less breezy. The "nursery" was the highlight with Williamson's Sapsucker, Mountain Chickadee and Western Bluebird nesting within a few feet of each other. Other birds seen or heard that morning include: Cordilleran Flycatcher, Pygmy Nuthatch, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Pine Siskin, and Red Crossbill. This year's camp-out was yet another fun and friendly White Mountain Audubon event.

Southeastern Arizona
April 25th-27th

In the two days of this Southeast Arizona birding extravaganza, sixteen White Mountain Auduboners amassed an amazing 145 species! The birding started at Beatty's Bed and Breakfast in Miller Canyon. The hummingbirds were in full-force, with Broad-billed, Magnificent, Blue-throated, Calliope, Rufous, Broad-tailed and Black-chinned all showing up at the feeders. A few die-hard individuals trekked up the canyon for the elusive Flame-colored Tanager. Along the trail we found Grace's, Hermit, Townsend's, and Red-faced Warblers as well as Painted Redstart. At the top, a few birder's got a good view of the Tanager, the rest getting only a passing glimpse for the effort, but the canyon was gorgeous anyway. That evening was filled with owls. Elf Owl was heard calling at Ramsey, and we were able to see both Whiskered and Western Screech in Carr Canyon.

The following morning we went to Fort Huachuca. The grasslands yielded Eastern Meadowlark and Rufous-crowned Sparrow among others. Buff-breasted Flycatchers were calling in Garden Canyon. A little further up the trail an Elegant Trogon pair rewarded everyone with stunning views. Higher up in Sawmill Canyon, a Greater Pewee sang from the top of a tree. A mixed flock of Olive, Grace's and Red-faced Warblers passed by.

From there we headed over to Ash Canyon and Cox's house, looking for Lucifer Hummingbird. A female Lucifer did show up for us, as well as 25 other species. Everyone had a good time relaxing and experiencing the birdiest feeders of the trip. Afterwards, we headed to the San Pedro House, where Sherri Williamson was banding Black-chinned hummingbirds.

That night at Ramsey Canyon, Elf owls called but remained shy. However, one of the most amazing experiences of the trip was watching the mating rituals of Whiskered Screech Owls. Want a moth? We rounded out our birding adventures with a day in Patagonia. Patagonia Lake State Park was hopping from the start. The highlight was seeing the rare nesting Black-capped Gnatcatcher with fledglings. Black Vulture, Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, Bell's Vireo, Vermillion Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Gray Hawk, and Green Heron weren't bad finds either.

The final stops at Paton's for Violet-crowned Hummingbird and the famous roadside rest for Thick-billed Kingbird capped off an amazing trip. Some of the other great birds seen on our trip were Cattle Egret, Swainson's Hawk, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Band-tailed Pigeon, Inca Dove, Common Poorwill, Whip-poor-will, Gila Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Arizona Woodpecker, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Mexican Jay, Chihuahuan Raven, Hutton's Vireo, Curve-billed Thrasher, Verdin, Bridled Titmouse, Abert's Towhee, Hepatic Tanager, Northern Cardinal, Pyrrhuloxia, Lazuli Bunting, and Scott's Oriole. A huge thanks to Gary Crandall for sharing his birding expertise and leading the trip. This trip will certainly be remembered as one of the best ever!

Bird-a-thon
May 17, 2003

It was a beautiful day as six of us made our way through the White Mountains and surrounding area in three teams for our annual Bird-a-thon. We amassed 117 species altogether during the day. The total was a little shy of last year's record of 161, but it was still a valiant birding effort. Listed below are some of the birding highlights and the locations they were seen.

Blue River: Common Blackhawk, Northern Goshawk, Montezuma Quail, Gambel's Quail, Purple Martin, Willow Flycatcher, Mexican Jay, Bridled Titmouse, Indigo Bunting, Black-chinned Sparrow, and Red-faced, Grace's, Yellow, Black-throated Gray, and Lucy's Warblers. Luna Lake: Bald Eagle with Eaglet, and Eared Grebe. Woodland Lake Park: Osprey, Purple Martin, Lewis' and Acorn Woodpeckers, Pygmy and White-breasted Nuthatch, and Brown Creeper. Pinetop: Evening Grosbeak, and Band-tailed Pigeon. Overgaard: Wild Turkey, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Northern Goshawk on nest

Thanks to everyone who participated, and to our sponsors for another successful Bird-a-thon!

Fieldtrip to Rock Art Ranch and vicinity
April 19, 2003

Rock Art Field TripIt began as a very chilly day, and the sun kept hiding in the clouds. We gathered in Holbrook and traveled to the Rock Art Ranch, where we met up with our host Brantley Baird. Old west artifacts encircle the parking lot to an old barn, which has been transformed into a museum of pioneer and cowboy memorabilia. There is also a beautiful collection of Anasazi pottery and stone tools. Unfortunately, that very morning, a break-in was discovered, in which several large pots were stolen, and others broken. We hope that the thieves will be caught and these pots recovered. The remaining collection is still quite impressive. After browsing the museum and getting our picture taken in front of the Hashknife Outfit's bunkhouse, we headed to the canyon.

There was plenty of water in the Little Colorado, which carved this steep-sided canyon and supports lush vegetation. The walls are covered in pictographs, and we awed and argued over what they meant. Birds? Oh, yes, birds. There were at least a couple dozen White-throated Swifts, and everyone got great views of Cliff Swallows as they passed by the picnic shelter which looks out over the canyon. The weather seemed to dampen the bird activity, but not our enthusiasm. Other birds seen at the ranch were Red-tailed hawk, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Say's Phoebe, Black Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Rock Wren, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Western Meadowlark. The best bird was probably a Merlin, seen by the two lead vehicles on the way in. After visiting Rock Art Ranch, we drove to Cholla Lake in Joe City. Some of the birds we found there were a large group of Western Grebes, Cinnamon Teal, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveller, Ruddy Duck, Great Blue Heron, a single White-winged Dove, Violet-green and Bank Swallows, Marsh Wren, and Yellow-rumped Warbler. Afterwards we made our way to the confluence of the Little Colorado River and Silver Creek in Woodruff. Again, the weather made birding difficult, but we added Mallard and Lincoln's Sparrow to our list. This unique trip was a lot of fun, in spite of the cold weather. If you would like to visit Rock Art Ranch, and get a taste of Southwestern history, you can make an appointment by calling (928) 288-3260.

Fieldtrip to Boyce Thompson Arboretum
March 15, 2003

Spring had already arrived when the ten of us met up at the Arboretum. The birding was busy right away, and we all got a great look at a male Costa's Hummingbird. Further along we all listened to Phainopeplas and watched Lesser Goldfinches in the trees. At the bridge we encountered a very cooperative pair of Lucy's Warblers. We continued to make our way to the herb garden, where there had been recent reports of a Rufous-backed Robin, the subject of conversation on the van as we drove down. We searched high and low (mostly low) for the Robin, to no avail. Our searching was rewarded, however, when a Brown Thrasher was spotted bucking amongst the leaves. It quickly hid, but when we returned after lunch everyone got a good look at it and it was added to many people's Arizona life lists.

A Canyon Wren's call echoed off the rocks, and a Golden Eagle soared high above, adding to a wonderful day at the park. Other birds we found include Verdins making nests, a loudly singing Curve-billed Thrasher, Spotted Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Bell's Vireo, White-throated Swift, White-winged Dove, Gambel's Quail, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Abert's Towhee, Hermit Thrush, Marsh Wren, Gila Woodpecker, Wilson's Warbler, Bewick's Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Anna's Hummingbird.

Archived Field Trip Reports

2010 Archived Field Trip Reports
2009 Archived Field Trip Reports
2008 Archived Field Trip Reports
2007 Archived Field Trip Reports
2004 Archived Field Trip Reports
2002 Archived Field Trip Reports