Monday, September 2, 2013

Patagonia Booby

Patagonia Mountains
The drive from Tucson to Patagonia is gorgeous right now.  It's amazing how lush and green everything looks from the recent rain.  But rain isn't the only thing that's blown in recently.  A few weeks ago an immature Blue-footed Booby was discovered at Patagonia Lake, becoming the first documented species of booby for Southeast Arizona.  I finally got a chance to make the trip and it didn't disappoint.

After running into fellow Arizona blogger Laurence Butler, the booby did a fly-by.  For the next half hour I enjoyed watching it fly around the lake, dive for fish, and even scratch an itch in mid-air!  I wonder how long it will stick around, there's plenty of fish to eat.


Later I was joined by Will Russell of WINGS Birding Tours.  It was a pleasure talking with him.  He amazed me when he identified a Yellow-billed Cuckoo flying 100 feet away in the sun, a bird I wouldn't have even tried to ID.  We watched the booby make passes with a backdrop of cactus, pretty cool!

CERange Map for Blue-footed Booby 
Will and I also enjoyed close views of an Osprey.

We watched one have a face-off with a Turkey Vulture, but not much happened.

My next stop was the Patagonia Roadside Rest Area to try to photograph a Thick-billed Kingbird.  They were very cooperative and even seemed to be wearing their brighter fall feathers.  Check out that massive bill!

CERange Map for Thick-billed Kingbird

A Blue Grosbeak shared a nearby perch.  

There were also a few beautiful Varied and Lazuli Bunting, but they weren't cooperative for photos.

No trip to Patagonia would be complete without a stop at the Paton's yard, the most reliable spot to find the Violet-crowned Hummingbird.


The Paton's property is now up for sale.  The American Bird Conservancy, Victor Emanuel Nature Tours, and the Tucson Audubon Society are trying to acquire it to preserve it as a sanctuary for birds and birders.  For more details and a way to contribute, visit here.  

Here are a few other birds that were in the yard.

a young Abert's Towhee
Inca Dove
Western Tanager
Western Tanager
White-breasted Nuthatch
On my way back to Tucson I visited the grasslands north of Sonoita in hopes of finding a Grasshopper Sparrow.  The first birds I heard were Botteri's Sparrow, but then the grasshoppers chimed in and a few even posed for me.

CERange Map for Grasshopper Sparrow

A few Eastern Meadowlark also made an appearance.

I tried to find a Grasshopper Sparrow a little further north for my Pima County list without any luck.  But I did enjoy the views of the mountains.

Patagonia Mountains
Whetstone Mountains
 All in all it was a much needed soul-satisfying day.


  1. I am so envious of your adventure I can hardly stand it. All those wonderful species of birds to see in person!

  2. Hey Jeremy, it was great seeing you again, and likewise great to see your photos up once more! Super shots of the Booby, Kingbirds, and Sparrows.

    You cleaned house in Patagonia!

    1. Thanks Laurence, looking forward to seeing what birds you saw on your trip down there.

  3. Damn Jeremy...sounds like great birding. I miss the monsoons! Congrats on the boob, that's a bird I've only seen in Puerto Penasco.

    1. I actually had better views of this one than I did for the one I saw in Puerto Penasco.

  4. Nice shots, and great finds! I love that thick-billed Kingbird.

  5. Jeremy, LOL! You went after all the same birds that Chris and I did, but we did not get the Kingbird! that booby was amazing, wasn't it! I am glad you were able to go and jealous that you have met Laurence. I keep trying to met that elusive guy! Great shots of the grasshopper sparrow by the way. We heard and saw them, but they were either too far away or too quick for my camera!