Alice had planned a week long bridge trip, and my Virginia birding pal, Walt Childs, and his wife were visiting family in Arizona, so I was able to do some birding with Walt in southeast Arizona. I had previously done some birding in Phoenix and north of there, but never to the south. Walt had birded in southeast Arizona many times, and was very familiar with birding locations there. I spent a few months planning for the trip, including checking all of my field guides, buying a copy of the Tuscon Audubon Society's 2015 Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona book, and following the ABA Arizona and eBird postings. Between potential life birds, bird species that I had previously seen but needed my first or better photos of them, and recently posted rarities, I compiled a target list of about 60 avian species. Walt and I agreed that we would skip good birding locations where my target birds were not likely to be found, but instead, planned on going to the best sites to find the target species.
The week before the trip, the high temperature each day was in the mid-60s, and the week after the trip in the mid-70s, but the week I was there had overnight temperatures at or below freezing, with daily highs struggling to get above 50 degrees. Walt and I birded from sunrise (7:30) to sunset (5:45) each day, and with the Arizona time zone being two hours after the Eastern time zone, I kept my body on Eastern time. That worked out fairly well, although I did get a bit hungry by dinner time!
A map of our trip birding sites is shown below. We also planned some sites in Portal, far to the east of where we stayed in Green Valley, but never made it there.
Arizona birding site map
The plan was to arrive in Phoenix early afternoon and spend about three hours birding at the Gilbert Water Ranch, but strong storms in the southestern US resulted in a two hour delay in Atlanta. By the time we arrived at the Gilbert Water Ranch, there was only 45 minutes left until sunset. But even in one quick hike around part of the ranch, we logged 27 avian species.
Black-necked Stilts and American Avocets
Click here to continue on the trip south to Green Valley, AZ