Most summers I spend a month in the monsoon's of SE Arizona. The rain comes daily and cools all off and surprisingly 'greens' things up down here. SE Arizona is known for their birds so I can usually find something when down here.
I checked on E-bird and a 'find' was to be had. Just 15 km (down here between Tucson and Nogales, road signs are in km's), was a nesting pair of Rose Colored Becards....oo la la, I say....oo la la.
Now, a Rose-throated Becard isn't 'brand new' to the states as it is a resident of Mexico and doesn't know about international boundaries, but looking on Ebird, it is the only Becard present in the states for 2017. Many years there are none, so this is truly a fine and just a jaunt down the road.
Deb and I are going to be in that area anyhow doing some antiquing and 'art stuff', and although it is 100 plus, the dryness makes it okay. I get information on the location of the bird and they say it is on the DeAnza Trail, three woods in (yeah, that is what it said...what? What is three woods?). ..... We find the DeAnza trail fairly easy and start hiking in the morning hours. Some cottonwoods and poplars trees are around but most Mesquite and Becards prefer the height of the poplars. We look....look....look...look and look some more. No Becard, no nest of the Becard either as they are usually 60-80 feet up in the air and dangling from the branches,....much like Oropendola's found in South America. It is getting a bit on the hot side, so we make it back to the Presidio State Park in Tubec and ask one of the workers. Usually when that happens we get the usual 'I don't know'....but this time they actually had a clue.
We are too far north...several km's..... I wonder if that has anything to do with the '3 woods'....? Anyhow, in the car we go and travel south a few km's to the Tumacacori Mission. This is a National Historic Site and has a ranger or two within. Perfect I am thinking... for rangers usually are 'up on the birds'. In we go and pay our 5$ as neither of us are old enough for a senior pass. .... Shucks. I am too young!. It reminds me when I was 16 and went to the movies to see 'The Godfather'. I wasn't allowed in for I was too young as it had a R17 rating and back in those days a youth of my age was too young to see anything good, unlike today. Anyhow, the ranger on duty just returned from vacation and had not heard about the Becard. But, luckily the one outside (during the solar eclipse, same day) is showing folks the eclipse outside so we trot on out to the main Mission Grounds to find her. Sure enough, she has the information. She says to take the main trail head on the DeAnza trail going 'north' form the mission, not south from the Presidio as we had been doing earlier. From there, the rangers have actually marked the spot, almost with an 'x', to show folks the nest of the Becard. Just stop at the sign, then look up....and find. Sounds easy.
Down the trail we go heading north.....stop at a smaller trailhead, veer left.....into the woods we go, and down a dried up river bed surrounded by poplars an cottonwoods .... yet no sign, no Becard. The heat by now is getting to us as it has turned mid-day and no monsoons in sight. Time to 'bag it ' for the day, so back to the ranger I go and ask 'what the heck?". She forgot to tell me which side of the river to go on and she proceeds to layout the location on a map. Perfect.....we can come back the following day.
Following day......early....6:00 and the light of day just poking itself up in this area of AZ. Deb says, if she is up, she will go....but Deb isn't up, so I go alone. Hiking 'alone' in AZ isn't something I prefer to do but figure others will be around just in case I need it.
Down to Tubac and past the Presidio,....down to the mission and to the trailhead I go. DeAnza trailhead right in front of me. Off I go. I am supposed to (according to directions) take a grassy stomped-down trail to the left just on the east side of the run-off dried riverbed and to the west of the Santa Cruz River. Okay, sounds easy. Into the trail I go and veer to the left once more, alone. Now, here I am in desert of SE Arizona in the early morning hours and the sun is just poking up and warming things up, and hiking in shorts down a field of grass, stumps, woods and downed logs. Not a safe recipe. It was here last year that I found the biggest rattlesnake I have seen in my entire life, and yet here I am alone....bare legs...in the grass.....
I tread carefully but thump my feet on the ground to give off vibrations to push the snakes away. I head further in, all the time looking up and down...birds and snakes. Nothing..... I eventually come to an area where I cross the dry creek bed. Good..... nice..... Crossing the dried creek I head further east and come to the sunny banks of the Santa Cruz, which actually has water in it at this time of the year. But again, alone....I am. From years of fishing with my dad in Oregon, Washington and California, I know that the sunny side of any river bank at any time of the day is a recipe for snakes as they warm themselves. Sure enough there is movement in the grass and one sneaks off. Bull snake, rattle snake? Not sure....I didn't chase it.
But I am too far towards the Santa Cruz and start backtracking to the dry river bed. Along I walk heading north. ....Bingo....a sign. I look up and yes, bingo again...a nest hanging from the tree. I found it man, I found it. So I just park my butt there for awhile and along comes a spider, sort of speaking. Movement in the trees. Bins up.....eyes on....bingo, a male Becard. There is a female floating around someplace but all I see is the male. It took me 30 minutes of waiting for the Becard but eventually he found his way from 'up' as he appeared to me making his rounds of the trees, from south to north.
Another birder shows up.....and together we try to find it. But to no avail as the bird has either called it quits for the day or is just making his way north and will eventually re-appear down here in 30 minutes or so. For me....I am done. It is getting hot and I have spied a 'lifer'....good enough for me.
It took me two days and about 10 miles of hiking but bingo for bongo.....