The Cienega at Arivaca

2016-03-25 and 26 Friday and Saturday

Myiarchus tuberculifer

Part of the Buenos Aires NWR, the cienega at Arivaca has been a favorite birding location of mine for more than a dozen years. I first visited this location in August 2003. New to birding and bird photography, was lucky enough to meet the Yellow-Billed Cuckoo during this visit. The image I captured that morning is the only respectable images of this bird I have. I would like to capture more someday. I also met Kenn Kaufman on this morning, but that’s another story.

On this recent trip I arrived late in the afternoon on Friday, in time to enjoy the last remaining light of the day. I met the Yellow Warbler, the Vermillion Flycatcher, the Green-Tailed Towhee, the American Kestrel, the Red-Tailed Hawk, the Rufous-Winged Sparrow, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Bell’s Vireo, and Loggerhead Shrike. After exhausting the day’s light, I drove the two or three blocks to my friend Barbara’s house and helped prepare dinner and enjoy the company.

Saturday blessed me with my first meeting with the Dusky-Capped Flycatcher. It’s always special to meet a bird for the first time. When I walked into the cienega that morning I discovered an organized bird walk in progress. While the group gathered at the start of the trail loop, I quietly moved past them and proceeded to the east. I found bird subjects to linger with, but the group came up behind me, and I moved along to stay ahead. Two more times I moved prematurely to keep out of their way. Finally, I stopped at a bench to take pictures of a Broad-Billed Hummingbird and try for a Bell’s Vireo singing nearby. This provided an opportunity to let the group pass. Rather than follow behind, I doubled back to work on the birds I previously left behind. In this pursuit, I heard the call of a flycatcher strangely familiar, yet unfamiliar to my ears. I listened to the flycatcher recordings I had with me and realized I’d been hearing a Dusky-Capped Flycatcher. The ‘familiar-ness’ was due to having listened to the recordings in the past when trying to identify an unfamiliar flycatcher. I’d never heard the bird in real life before. Later I followed and caught up with the birding group to report the bird to the tour leader, David Griffin. He suggested even though shady oaks’ are listed as preferred habitat, they’ve visited this cienega in the past. This bird was early by comparison to notes from previous years, but lots of other bird movements have been noted as ‘early’ recently.

I made another visit to the cienega at about five in the afternoon to assure the capture of good images. Had it not been for the bird’s call, I might have thought the bird was an Ash-Throated Flycatcher, a bird I’ve met many times.

Images from these two days can be viewed below:

Click map markers to reveal further information