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MEXICO - SONORA (Baviacora)
by Robert Hunt
Decided to get out of town for three days and go south of the border,
sort of chasing after the retreating tide of last summer's birds. I
drove a loop from Magdalena de Kino to Cucurpe, to Arizpe, down to
Aconchi and Baviacora, west to Ures, then north to Rayon, to Opodepe,
then over to Benjamin Hill, and back to Magdalena de Kino and the U.S.
I was officially scouting for a trip for SABO, but it was a great
chance to get clear of home and wander and get a little birding in. The
road to Cucurpe
was mellow enough - paved and very scenic with spectacularly abrupt
towering above vast stands of Saguaro. I camped outside of Cucurpe, and
night managed to whistle in a FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL.
The next morning I continued on through the mountains towards Arizpe in
the Rio Sonora Valley. The pavement ended after a few miles, and I
continued with some trepidation on the dirt road in my teeny little
Mazda 323 with its
aging, leaky motor and nearly treadless tires that were more like
driving on four baloons. All went well enough initially until it became
much rougher driving. Later that morning, I would commit to driving
down hills that I knew
I'd never get back up, sliding pell-mell into country I had never
The mountains rose out of the Sonoran desert habitats into oaks,
mesquites and tree acacia and high rolling hills. Higher up, I passed
through a spectacular little narrow canyon with water and lush growth.
Here, I pished and had immediate results with more birds than I could
look at including late migrants such as TOWNSEND'S WARBLER and
ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER mixed in with YELLOW-RUMPED and BLACK-THROATED
GRAY WARBLERS. From here on, at any stop, all I needed was a couple of
pishes and I'd get immediate responses from BLACK-TAILED GNATCATCHERS
and BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS. Other birds in the pass included among the
supects HAMMOND'S and GRAY FLYCATCHERS. Later I decended into a large,
habitat of sub-tropical thornscrub, where I picked up a NUTTING'S
in a shrub not 20 feet away. When he gaped, like they seem to like to
the orange inside of his mouth was very bright.
I was so glad I finally reached Arizpe. I relaxed in the town square
and wandered the cottonwood-lined farm lanes watching GREAT EGRETS and
HERONS perched above the Rio Sonora. Most of the small towns from here
I passed through, including Arizpe, were simply the neatest, most
historic, colonial-looking places I have ever visited in Sonora. The
central squares in most of them were worth a sit, the streets were
clean, the old houses, even the ones with peeling paint, looked cared
for. My car rattled through each on cobblestone streets.
I spent the rest of the day and most of the next morning in Aconchi and
a little village north of it called San Felipe de Jesus walking along
river and wading in it. The birding wasn't spectacular, but it was
busy for this early in the season. I had a lifetime's worth of close
(15 feet) at a GREEN KINGFISHER. Walked up to an old corral and managed
to spook off the one hundred or so BLACK VULTURES, some of whom were
kicking up lots of dust fighting over an old brown, dried dog carcass.
small kettle swirled that included Black Vultures, TURKEY VULTURE, a
(sp.?), CHIHUAHUAN RAVEN, and to my surprise, a PEREGRINE FALCON.
HAWKS worked the dense corridor of young cottonwoods along the
Odd bird of the day: ELF OWL! Started "barking" at me from dense cover
I imitated a Western Screech-owl to pull in some other birds. I shared
small rapids in the river with some very relaxed SPOTTED and WETSERN
that didn't bolt until I was within a few feet of them.
I left the Rio Sonora Valley and headed west towards Ures. The drive is
through some of the best and lushest thornscrub I have seen in Sonora.
Kapok trees were in fruit, and many of the Tree Morning Glories were in
flower and were still in leaf. I stopped to gape into the large canyon
the road skirted
and pished in a BROAD-BILLED HUMMINGBIRD, which irridesced gloriously
the high noon sun.
I started north out of Ures on what has to be the best maintained dirt
road in Mexico towards Rayon. Rayon is another one of those little
well-kept colonial towns snugged into a valley botton, the Rio San
Miguel, and surrounded by lots of thornscrub in the mountains. It was
here that I discovered that I had a slowly flattening tire. All I had
was one of those inadequate little donut-wheels, and it was 50 miles to
the nearest major highway. I had no $$$
left to get it repaired, and I was at least another 200 miles drive
border. I boogied up over the mountains on what was actually another
well-maintained dirt road. I reached a Pemex station and refilled the
totally flat tire. I repeatred this at every major town fighting
time and the ominous leak.
Whew!!!! I made it! Got a can of good Fix-a-flat in Nogales (the
Mexican stuff didn't work), had just enough gas to make it back to my
lair in the No Name Canyon near Bisbee. Cashed in my small handful of
Mexican coins, all
I had left, and bought a premium beer to celebrate my little three-day
Viva Mexico! Viva los Pajaritos! Viva SABO!
The following are the birds I saw on this trip:
Great Blue Heron (drove right up beside this guy at one river crossing,
just a few feet away. He didn't budge! Just stood there staring at me).
Northern (r-s) Flicker
Yellow-rumped Warbler (both Audubon's and Myrtle)
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Robert Hunt (naturalist)
Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory
P.O. Box 5521
Bisbee, AZ 85603