grayish overall, chestnut undertail coverts, gray unstreaked underparts,
thin dark malar bordered by thin white submustachial
|Crissal Thrasher, singing|
chestnut under-tail coverts
all gray, pink bill, no black chin in winter plumage, with reddish brown feather edges on back and wings
beautiful reddish brown feather edges on back and wings
I returned to Madera Canyon to walk the Nature Trail between Whitehouse and Madera Picnic areas, and started from the Whitehouse Picnic Area. Still no additional sighting of Red-breasted Sapsucker for a photo. I walked slowly up the Nature Trail looking and listening. The sun was dropping rapidly and soon the nature trail would be in shade, reducing bird activity. However, I still saw flying insects along the trail, a promising sight. As I approached the Madera Picnic Area just before a wooden bridge, I found a feeding flock of birds, including Bridled Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Yellow-rumped Warbler and a Townsend's Warbler. These birds seemed to be concentrating in the sunny braches and leaves of the trees. As I was trying to attract these birds to my location with spishing and kissing noises, an empidonax flew in from a more westerly position along the stream bed. It was a Hammond's Flycatcher, showing the peaked appearance on the back of the largish head, the gray on the throat and head, the almond shaped eye-ring that is more elongated toward the back of the head and the small, rather narrow based bill. It landed briefly in the sunlight, but I was not able to see any color at the base of the bill, which looked mostly dark, but that may have been due to the angle of viewing. I was not able to see the primaries very well, but the primary extension appeared to be somewhat long--just an impression, and the tail was slightly notched. The bird flew behind a large conifer tree trunk, and disappeared from my view. I then heard it make the distinctive "peek" call of Hammond's Flycatcher, which is quite different from the sharp "whit" call of the other over-wintering empid in Arizona, Dusky Flycatcher. While there are those who do not believe in identifying heard birds, the distinctive call of Hammond's Flycatcher verified my visual identification. If the call did not fit the visual observations, I would probably be questioning this sight only identification. The feeding flock flew across the entry road and moved up-hill on the east side, seeming to stay in the sunshine where it was likely there would be more insect activity. I tried to follow the feeding flock but lost sight of it. I had hoped for a photo but it was not to be.
I returned to the Whitehouse Picnic Area to check for the Red-breasted Sapsucker, but had no luck. I gradually birded my way back out of the canyon, spending time in the late afternoon sunshine. I headed to Nogales to stay the night. Tomorrow, December 16, I would head to San Rafael grassland to look for Baird's Sparrow and Chestnut-collared Longspur.
Hammond's Flycatcher raises the total to 719 + three provisionals, White-cheeked Pintail, Common Redstart and Eurasian Sparrowhawk.
PS: I discovered that I was more tired than expected from my effort in December. Consequently, updating my bog entries is somewhat delayed, but will accelerate soon.