After enjoying and greatly appreciating George and Ellen West's hospitality for three nights, we got up and out early this morning and headed toward Superior AZ where the Boyce Thompson Botanical Gardens are located. Two Rufous-backed Robins had been reported from that location. So after missing the one at Santa Gertrudis Lane, we were again trying to add that species to our list. We had enough time for a quick breakfast and still made it to the gate ten minutes before they opened. We parked, paid the entrance fee, and walked back along the main trail. A robin-sized bird jumped up off the ground and into a bush near some purple berries. It was the bird (photos), gotten within ten minutes. It was my first ABA area bird of the year. You'll see that if you look at the spreadsheets on my web page. It's shaded orange! A little later a Canyon Wren sang and a Rock Wren perched high up on the cliff and bobbed. On our way back we spotted the other Rufous-backed Robin feeding on some berries. We were able to point it out to another birdwatcher who raced off to get his friend. Buoyed by this success we headed west toward Phoenix to try for a Eurasian Wigeon on an urban pond. It took a little maneuvering but we managed to get parked and walk to the pond. There was the wigeon, a catch-up bird for John. We also tried an old site that I knew of for Burrowing Owl, but in the intervening years the habitat has fallen prey to parking lot development.
Our next target was Le Conte's Thrasher in a salt bush area west of Phoenix. It took the better part of an hour to get there and get organized to search the sparsely vegetated, somewhat desolate field that is the habitat of the thrasher. The walk began with great views of Sage Sparrows, running across the ground with their tails held high. Gambel's Quails called and Anna's Hummingbirds sang and did their courtship arcs in the air. Then a pair of pale thrashers raced over the ground in front of us looking like diminutive roadrunners. One of the birds was carrying nesting material. We got two more looks at the birds, both involving fast-moving runs across the bare spaces between bushes. These Le Conte's Thrashers behaved as all the others I've seen. I had been hoping since we were getting here in February that the male would be singing from a bush and I'd get a perched-up thrasher view. Oh well. We did have good short views and we were glad to have them. A Black-tailed Gnatcatcher added frosting to the cake. With all the trophies under belt, it was decided to head back to southeastern Arizona for some of the other target birds. The species total is now 328. That's more than half-way to my goal of 650!