I arrived at about 10:30 am at the trailhead to Telegraph Pass Trail. Isaac had told me that this was a busy trail, and he had been there during the week. December 21 was a Saturday, and I expected even more people. It would have been better if I had arrived early in the morning, but that was not possible given the snow, requiring me to stay in Gallup, NM last night. I gathered my camera, binoculars, some water and a snack and headed up the trail. The first part of the trail was paved until the trail dipped down to a wash. Then the trail headed uphill to the left toward the pass following the wash. Isaac had found the Gray Vireo in a ravine on the left side about a mile up the trail. The wash turned into a ravine further uphill. As I approached the ravine on the steeply rising trail, I started hearing vireo call notes, “scray scray” and a series of rapidly descending musical scold notes. These were the calls and scolds of Gray Vireo. Now all I had to do was to find and see it. There appeared to be two Gray Vireos. One Gray Vireo was calling to the east of the trail and uphill. A second Gray vireo was calling not too far west of the trail. I stopped to watch and listen at a convenient spot along the side of the trail near the ravine, hoping to get a closer look and perhaps photographs of the Gray Vireo. I hoped that the bird would come in closer between the frequent small groups of hikers going up the trail and coming down from the pass. Eventually, a Gray Vireo came in close for excellent looks but not completely cooperative for photos. See photos.
thick vireo bill, all gray, white eye ring with slight wing bar and long tail
I headed back down the trail to the parking area and had left the trail head by about 1:30 pm. There was enough time for some additional birding. I was headed toward Saguaro National Park to try for Gilded Flicker. I had tried for Gilded Flicker there in August during the hot part of the afternoon and was unsuccessful. I arrived at Saguaro NP between 4:00 and 4:30 pm. See photo of typical saguaros near the entry.
|Saguaros along Bejada Loop Drive|
|Gilded Flicker, back view|
brown on crown, grayish brown on nape, light colored back with fine barring
yellow under flight feathers at right, nape feathers ruffled by breeze and
showing dark spots
(adjusted to remove some shadows
|View to the east close to sunset, note gold on mountains|
|Sunset and Saguaros|
|Sunset and Saguaros|
Gray Vireo and Gilded Flicker raise the total to 730 plus two provisionals, Common Redstart and Eurasian Sparrowhawk as of December 21. (See the final total for the year, 733 + 2 provisionals, reported on January 3, 2014.)