The Azure Gate Bed & Breakfast

9351 E. Morrill Way, Tucson, Arizona 85749
Innkeeper(s): Dennis & Christine Widman

Birding Incinerator Ridge, Mount Lemmon 28 May 2016, 5:04 am

After Rose Canyon Lake, Christine and I wanted to make a quick stop at Incinerator Ridge just to see what was going on there. As it turns out, it too was very birdie so we ended up spending the rest of our day there. Incinerator Ridge is famous for its Red Faced Warblers (again probably the most reliable place to find it). And, again he didn't disappoint. Painted Redstarts are often present (as they were this day). Yellow Rumped Warblers, Hermit Thrushes, Yellow Eyed Juncos, Mountain Chickadees, Spotted Towhees, Black Headed Grosbeaks, American Robins, Cliff Swallows, Ravens, an unidentified hawk ...

Here are a couple of the nicer photos:

Painted Redstart

Red Faced Warbler

More from Rose Canyon Lake, Mount Lemmon 26 May 2016, 4:54 am

Other nice photos from Rose Canyon Lake on Mount Lemmon:

Blue Grey Gnatcatcher

House Wren

Olive Warbler

Pine Siskin

Plumbeous Vireo

Western Bluebird

Buff Breasted Flycatcher at Rose Canyon Lake 24 May 2016, 4:51 am

Christine and I birded Mount Lemmon on Monday May 16th. We started at Rose Canyon Lake which was quite "birdie." One of the "prizes" here is the Buff Breasted Flycatcher. Although Sibley's says the BBF is mainly found in the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona, I have found Rose Canyon Lake on Mount Lemmon to be the most reliable place (at least over the last few years).

We were pleased not only to find this little guy (other than the even rarer Tufted Flycatcher, the Buff Breasted is the smallest flycatcher in North America).

And, not just happy to find, happy to find him posing in a variety of settings:

Florida Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains 22 May 2016, 11:25 am

I went looking for the Black Capped Gnatcatcher for my website. Again my previous photos not up to my new standard. I struck out. However, I did find a few nice photos there:

Singing Northern Cardinal

Grey Hawk

Female Western Tanager

Male Western Tanager

Male Wester Tanager

Wilson's Warbler

White Tailed Deer

Empire Gulch -- next on the List 20 May 2016, 11:18 am

Empire Gulch is usually quite birdie given the spring that keeps water in the Gulch for about 200 yards. There were some nice finds to:

Hooded Skunk

Black Head Grosbeak Male

Summer Tanager Male

Western Tanager Female

Stellar Jay at Incinerator Ridge 18 May 2016, 11:13 am

Another  reliable find at Incinerator Ridge is the Stellar Jay:

Incinerator Ridge, Mount Lemmon 16 May 2016, 11:11 am

After finding the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher at Molino Basin I thought I'd check out Incinerator Ridge -- just to see what was going on. And, of course, a main attraction is what I believe is the most reliable place to find the Red Faced Warbler. So here are those photos:

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher 14 May 2016, 11:02 am

I have been working on a NEW website. The old one I developed ten years ago through Apple's iWeb software. Unfortunately, several years ago Apple decided not to support iWeb any longer. Yet it still worked okay. However, with the latest Apple Operating System (El Capitan) I can't update my site any longer. 

So, I have been using Weebly to create an entirely new site. And, now it is finished. If you would like to see it, just click on this link:  at

All this to say, I have been busy and haven't written a post for a week. So, let me catch up. As I was working on my new website, I realized that my Gnatcatcher photos weren't up to my new standard. So I set out for Molino Basin five miles up Mount Lemmon. This I believe is the most reliable spot for the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher. (I have seen them here at The Azure Gate. In fact, a few years ago a guest found a BGG in her nest near our Catalina Guest House).

As some thought process and luck had it, I was able to get some nice photos at Molino Basin. Here are a few of them: The Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher:

Great Day Birding Sabino Canyon 9 May 2016, 3:34 pm

An early breakfast allowed me to get to Sabino Canyon by 9:30 am. I hiked up to the Dam (just a tad over a mile) and birded the 200 yards between the dam and the Sabino Creek crossing. Lots of bird song and activity. The surprise was a Yellow Breasted Chat, normally very secretive and more often heard than seen. I was off the trail in the middle of a mesquite bosque standing perfectly still when he came by. At first he was obscured by foliage, but remaining still I waited for a couple of minutes until he found an opening. Then "snap!"

Other nice finds: Male and Female Summer Tanager, and lovely cooperative Yellow Warbler. A Lucy's Warbler that just couldn't stop singing. Oh, and a young male Bullock's Oriole. Here are some photos:

Brown Crested Flycatcher

Brown Crested Flycatcher

Bullock's Oriole Juvenile

Cardinal Male

Lucy's Warbler Singing

Summer Tanager Female

Summer Tanager Male

Yellow Breasted Chat

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler Singing

Grace's Warbler: Right Time, Right Place, and Lots of Luck 5 May 2016, 5:31 am

Little is known about Grace's Warbler other than it was first reported by Elliott Coues' in 1864. Elliott Coues was a well known naturalist and ornithologist who the small subspecies of White Tailed Deer, the Coues Deer is named after. Coues asked that the bird be named after his sister, Grace.

The summer breeding range of Grace's Warbler is mainly Arizona and Central Mexico, although it doesn't pay much attention to state borders so can sometimes be found in the extreme southern parts of Nevada, Utah, southwest Colorado, and western New Mexico where the elevation is 7000 feet and there are pine trees. It winters in Central America.

Even though its territorial requirements are very precise, little is known of the Grace's Warbler due to the fact that it stays atop 130 foot Ponderosa Pine trees. It's diet is presumed to be insects like other warblers, gleaning from branches and pine clusters.

Since it stays above 7000 feet it is restricted to the Catalina, Huachuca, Chiricahua, and Santa Rita Mountains in southern Arizona. I have found Grace's along the Carrie Nation Trail in the Santa Ritas, Huachuca Canyon in the Huachucas, and Incinerator Ridge on Mount Lemmon in the Catalinas. I have also seen it in the picnic areas at Middle Bear and Hitchcock in the Catalinas.

That brings me to yesterday's birding trip up Mount Lemmon. My photographs of Grace's at Middle Bear picnic area have never been great because I'm always standing 100 feet below them. Those photos are mostly "belly shots." But at Incinerator Ridge, you can be eye level to mid or top portions of the Ponderosa Pines. And such was the case. Right time, right place, and as luck would have it, a Grace's Warbler landed and perched no more than 15 feet from me (for about 5 seconds) before flying away. But those 5 seconds gave me an opportunity for a photo. And I was pleased with the result (you can see the Ponderosa Pine needles in the background of the photo):

Grace's Warbler