Total ABA Species Recorded During 2010 - 731

Thursday, February 11, 2010

San Rafael Grasslands and Baird's Sparrow

We had decided to go to the San Rafael grasslands today.  George volunteered his Toyota 4-Runner since it had high clearance and 4-wheel drive which we might need since it had rained/snowed heavily yesterday.  That proved to be a good idea since the roads were very sloppy and the Prius couldn't have made it.  When we got up to 5400 feet, the elevation of the grassland, there was snow on the ground (photo).  Our only companions were the Border Patrol trucks that passed us.  We saw flocks of longspurs and Horned Larks flying around so we did a little walking out into the snowy grass.  Longspurs flew up right and left, but one bird stayed behind.  It slunk through the grass, but gave us great looks as it paused in open spaces.  It was a Baird's Sparrow, our target bird and the reward for having subjected George's vehicle to the muddy track.  The longspurs were identified as Chestnut-collared and were beginning to get some breeding plumage.  On the way down we stopped for some small flocks which included Bushtits, Bridled Titmice (photo), and Mexican Jays.  After a coffee in Patagonia, we went to the Patons to look at the feeders.  As it so happens Mrs. Paton recently died and the family has yet to decide what to do with the place.  Michael Marsden is currently acting as caretaker.  Two Anna's Hummingbirds were the only hummers at the feeders but there were Pine Siskins at the seed feeders.  We decided to move on to Lake Patagonia where we found waterfowl, cormorants, and some new year birds including Grey Flycatcher, Hutton's Vireo, and Arizona Woodpecker.  On the way back to Green Valley we stopped at Santa Gertrudis Lane just to have another look for the Rufous-backed Robin, but it wasn't there.  Back in Green Valley we took George's suv to the carwash to get rid of some of the accretion of mud.  Later we took George and Ellen out to a restaurant where we all had great meals.  The species total is now 320.


  1. You're rolling like a big wheel, guy. Rock on.

  2. Baird's is huge!! Basically the only bird of the northern prairies that would require a single shot, right? So that's a big opportunity cost freed up! And a classy bird.

  3. Sure sounds like a great time. Live it up Bob! Renee