26 April - 02 May 1998
by Roy Jones and Steve Ganley
We normally leave about 3 in the morning and drive all day arriving at Yecora late in the day. This time we left Phoenix 12:30 p.m. so we could drive down, cross the border and get down a ways to save some time and keep the drive to a manageable length for one day. We stopped in Nogales for food and gas and arrived at "Sonora Only" at 4:30 p.m., about 20 minutes for paperwork. Stopped along Santa Cruz River on Highway 15 between KM 223 and KM 222 from 5:00 until 5:20. At about KM 200, we dropped out of oak-riparian habitat into Sonoran Desert.
We made one stop to bird at KM 222 along the Santa Gruz River. Some of the birds here were Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Summer Tanager, Song Sparrow, Thick-billed Kingbird, Cassin's Kingbird, Bell's Vireo, and Violet-crowned Hummingbird.
Arrived in Santa Ana about 6:00 p.m. It was 54 miles from "Sonora Only" to Santa Ana. We stayed at Motel San Francisco, East Side of Highway 15. [200 pesos, $25] Room wasn't to bad but it was close to the highway, the road noise was loud all night. "Nocturnal grackles" called all night too. There was a large flock of Cattle Egrets roosting near the hotel.
We left Santa Ana at 5:30 a.m. and reached the toll booth outside of Hermosillo about 7:10 a.m., 93 miles from Santa Ana. We were at Hermosillo by 7:30 with stops at the marsh and the large reservoir on the East Side of town. Bought gas at Hermosillo, left town at 7:55 a.m. Turned onto Highway 16 to Yecora. Part of the reason we left the day before was so that we could get to Hermosillo early in the day and make more stops along Hwy.16 to Yecora. Some of the markers noted below weren't stops but just notation or landmarks.
KM 45 La Colorada was our first Cardon Cactus.
KM 72 San Juan de Pima was 46 miles from Hermosillo and is a small, low elevation river or stream. We arrived at 8:45 a.m., there were lots of birds. Some of the birds seen were Great Kiskadee, Zone-tailed Hawk, Gray Hawk, Vaux Swift, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Nutting's Flycatcher, Canyon Towhee, and Rufous-winged Sparrow.
KM 117 Not sure of town name. (San Pablo?) PEMEX gas station is the only one until Yecora. 73 miles from Hermosillo.
KM 168 is the Rio Yaqui; we arrived at 12:10 p.m., took some photos and birded from the bridge. (104 miles from Hermosillo)
KM 196 - 197 This area is a nice moist canyon with several fig trees and a couple of palms. Lots of birds were found here. Birds at Fig Trees: Rufous-capped Warbler, Sinaloa Wren, Violet-crowned Hummingbird, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Yellow Grosbeak, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, White-tipped Dove, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Yellow Grosbeak, White-striped Woodcreeper. We heard a call that we couldn't place, (to my ear it sounded somewhat like an antbird).
KM 200 had the first pine trees and some oaks. It's worth a short stop.
KM 214 was a bridge just before you come into Tecopa. If you go upstream you will come to some fig trees. We were here from 2:00 until 2:20. We got our first Black-throated Magpie Jays and Elegant Quail here.
KM 215 was the second bridge at Tecopa. Park on the left near the bridge and walk downstream. This canyon is a unique microclimate with a native bamboo growing on the north facing slope and a lot of figs about ¾ to a mile down stream. This is the only place in Sonora where I've seen the bamboo growing. 133 miles from Hermosillo.
KM 234 The road to Ciudad Obregon is on right. Road on left to San Nicholis. We did not go there on this trip.
KM 260 is the famous "Barranca". We arrived about 3:30, and stayed about an hour. We got Slate-throated Redstart, Rusty Sparrow, and Spotted Wren right away.
KM 265 is a truck stop. On the right is a dirt road up to Mesa Campanero. Its not a very good road but it is passable with a high clearance vehicle (4 wheel drive not necessary). The road has a fork a short way up and to camp we took the left fork. It goes up to the top of the mesa where you can camp. While we were eating dinner we heard and found a Mountain Trogon. This area had at least four trogons while we were there. That night we heard two Whip-poor-wills calling.
Spent early morning on the Mesa Campanero. This area was very birdy and I was surprised at how much time we spent here. Some of the birds seen this morning were Eastern Bluebird, Olive Warbler, Grace's Warbler, Mexican Chickadee, Crescent-chested Warbler, Slate-throated Redstart, Tufted Flycatcher. We also had good views of a Short-tailed Hawk near the microwave tower.
At 10:30 we went to the Barranca where we added Flame-colored Tanager and Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush. Went into Yecora for gas just after noon. We then stopped at a small canyon at KM 275. This area is another moist canyon. We added several more Tufted Flycatchers, Elegant Trogon and a White-throated Robin here. Later went down the road from the barranca where we got great looks at a pair of White-striped Woodcreepers. We spent another night at Mesa Campenero.
Arrive at Barranca at 9:00 a.m. Birded here for a couple of hours and then we worked our way down to Santa Ana Road at KM 243. Drove out Santa Ana Road about 3 miles to some trees, not much out here but cows. We then headed back and crossed Highway 16 and drove out the road to Santa Rosa about 6 miles to bridge at river, again nothing much but cows. This area is very good for thorn forest birds, many Nutting's Flycatchers and Thick-billed Kingbirds. Here I heard a Nutting's doing the seldom-heard "pit" call. Came back to Highway 16 about 1:45 p.m.
KM 234 we took the road to Ciudad Obrigon at 1:52 p.m. Arrived at Highway 15 at 4:30 p.m. 101 miles 2 hours and 22 min. We went to Navojoa and spent the night at Best Western. [$43] Birds that were new for the trip or the area were White-fronted Parrot, Green Kingfisher, Orchard Oriole, Tropical Kingbird, Sinaloa Crow, and Happy Wren.
We left Navojoa at 6:00 a.m. and drove into Alamos. Take right fork at first square (narrow street) turn right at mission, then left at Camino al Mirador out El Fuerte Road. Go to left turn for Rio Cuchujaqui [road to Huircova] 9 KM out to river and bridge. Spent day at Rio including a hike down stream from bridge for about a mile. Many birds here including Rufous-bellied Chachalaca, Yellow Grosbeak, Blue Mockingbird, Plain-capped Starthroat, Rufous-backed Robin, Rose-throated Becard and Bare-throated Tiger-Heron.
We went back to Alamos and then back towards Navajoa to a campground at Big Rig Park (or El Caracol). Spent night here. [80 pesos, $10] Some of the birds at camp were Buff-collared Nightjar, Lesser Nighthawk, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Thick-billed Kingbird, and Black-throated Magpie-Jay.
Arrive to Alamos, down El Fuerte Road, 6.2 miles from turn to Rio Cuchujaqui to a wide wash with a shrine on the right. We parked on the right and walked down the wash about 10 minutes to the river, then we went downstream about 3 miles. Some people call this place the Mentadero. This place is the best easily accessible area around Alamos. We saw many great birds here some of them were Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Plain-capped Starthroat, Purplish-backed Jays, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Gray Hawk, Common Black-Hawk, Crane Hawk, Lilac-crowned Parrot, Rufous-bellied Chachalaca, Rose-throated Becard, and Squirrel Cuckoo. We ended the day back at Navajoa and the Rio Mayo staying the night at the Best Western.
We left Navojoa at 6:30 a.m. headed for home. We made stops at the Rio Mayo, Rio Jaqui and at Guaymas. At Guaymas we stopped at the causeway near Empalme some of the birds here were Heermann's Gull, Laughing Gull, Franklin's Gull, Yellow-footed Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Least Tern, Brant, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Reddish Egret, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and American Oystercatcher. We made it to Hermosillo by 11:15 and "Sonora Only" at the border at 2:10 p.m., arrive in Phoenix at 5:30. We had a total 1400 miles for the trip.
This is the complete list of birds from the above trip.
Eared Grebe - At least 3 birds seen at Guaymas causeway.
American White Pelican - Birds at Hermosillo reservoir.
Brown Pelican - Birds seen at Guaymas causeway.
Double-crested Cormorant - Flock of 6 birds flying west of Ciudad Obregon and several seen at Guaymas.
Neotropic Cormorant - Bird seen at Hermosillo reservoir and at Guaymas causeway.
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron - At least 6 birds seen along the Rio Cuchujaqui.
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron - Common at Guaymas causeway.
Tricolored Heron - Common at Guaymas causeway.
Reddish Egret - At least 3 birds at Guaymas causeway.
Cattle Egret - Birds seen at several low elevation locations including Santa Ana and Rio Mayo at Navojoa.
Green Heron - Several birds seen along the Rio Cuchujaqui and at the Rio Mayo in Navojoa.
Black-crowned Night-Heron - Two birds seen at the Rio Mayo in Navojoa.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron - Abundant at the Guaymas causeway.
White Ibis - Abundant at the Guaymas causeway.
White-faced Ibis - Flock of 15 birds flying over the Rio Mayo at Navojoa.
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck - Common around the Rio Mayo at Navojoa.
Brant - Fifteen birds seen flying south at the Guaymas causeway.
Mallard - Two birds seen along the Rio Yaqui near Bacum.
Red-breasted Merganser - Several birds seen at the Guaymas causeway.
Black Vulture - Abundant in most habitats.
Turkey Vulture - Abundant in most habitats.
Sharp-shinned Hawk - One bird seen harassing Peregrine Falcon at the Mesa Campenero.
Crane Hawk - Two birds seen along the Rio Cuchujaqui.
Common Black-Hawk - Six birds seen along the Rio Cuchujaqui including a nesting pair with one immature bird.
Harris's Hawk - Two birds seen along hwy. 15 west of Navojoa.
Gray Hawk - Common in thorn forest and riparian habitats.
Short-tailed Hawk - One bird seen soaring above Mesa Campenero.
Swainson's Hawk - One bird seen along hwy. 16 east of Hermosillo.
Zone-tailed Hawk - One bird seen along at hwy. 16 km 70 at San Juan de Pima and 2 birds seen soaring at Mesa Campenero.
Crested Caracara - Abundant in lower elevation habitats.
Peregrine Falcon - One bird seen at Mesa Campenero.
Rufous-bellied Chachalaca - Two pairs of birds seen well along the Rio Cuchujaqui.
Gambel's Quail - Birds seen along hwy.16 east of Hermosillo.
Elegant Quail - Abundant in thorn forest. Many birds doing territorial calls.
Common Moorhen - Two birds seen along Rio Mayo at Navojoa.
American Coot - Two birds seen along Rio Mayo at Navojoa.
Wilson's Plover - One bird seen at Guaymas causeway.
American Oystercatcher - Three birds seen at Guaymas causeway.
American Avocet - Two birds seen at Hermosillo reservoir.
Willet - Several birds at Guaymas causeway.
Spotted Sandpiper - Common bird along lower elevation riparian habitats.
Long-billed Curlew - Four birds seen at Guaymas causeway.
Marbled Godwit - Common at Guaymas causeway.
Sanderling - One bird seen at Guaymas causeway.
Laughing Gull - Several birds seen at Guaymas causeway.
Franklin's Gull - One bird seen at Guaymas causeway.
Heermann's Gull - Several birds at Guaymas causeway.
Yellow-footed Gull - Several birds seen at Guaymas causeway.
Gull-billed Tern - Two birds seen at Guaymas causeway.
Forster's Tern - Four birds seen at Guaymas causeway.
Least Tern - Abundant at Guaymas causeway.
Red-billed Pigeon - Four birds seen around Alamos 2 flying over thorn forest and 2 perched birds along Rio Cuchujaqui.
Band-tailed Pigeon - Four birds seen flying at Mesa Campenero.
Common Ground-Dove - Abundant in lower elevation habitats, very abundant around Alamos.
Ruddy Ground-Dove - One bird heard calling along Rio Cuchujaqui.
White-tipped Dove - Abundant in thorn forest, most birds only heard but several seen.
White-fronted Parrot - Common roosting bird at Navojoa along Rio Mayo also seen along Rio Yaqui at Bacum. Several birds
seen flying around Alamos.
Lilac-crowned Parrot - Three birds seen well along Rio Cuchujaqui.
Squirrel Cuckoo - One bird seen along Rio Cuchujaqui.
Great Horned Owl - One bird seen along Rio Cuchujaqui.
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl - Several birds heard along Rio Cuchujaqui.
Lesser Nighthawk - One bird heard calling at El Carocal rest stop.
Buff-collared Nightjar - Two birds heard calling at El Carocal rest stop.
Whip-poor-will - Multiple birds heard calling at Mesa Campenero and one bird heard calling during the day at the barranca.
Vaux's Swift - Six or 7 birds seen along hwy. 16 km 70 at San Juan de Pimas.
White-throated Swift - Several birds seen at the barranca.
Broad-billed Hummingbird - Common in all but the lowest of elevation habitats.
White-eared Hummingbird - Common in mountains around Yecora.
Violet-crowned Hummingbird - Common in thorn forest and lower riparian habitats.
Blue-throated Hummingbird - One bird seen at barranca.
Magnificent Hummingbird - Three or 4 birds seen on Mesa Campenero.
Plain-capped Starthroat - Abundant along Rio Cuchujaqui. Birds seen hawking insects above water.
Broad-tailed Hummingbird - Several birds heard on Mesa Campenero.
Elegant Trogon - Birds heard at barranca and hwy. 16 km 275. Common along Rio Cuchujaqui.
Mountain Trogon - Several birds heard and seen at the barranca and on the Mesa Campenero.
Green Kingfisher - Several birds seen riparian habitats.
Acorn Woodpecker - Common in mountains around Yecora.
Strickland's Woodpecker - Two or 3 birds seen at the barranca.
White-striped Woodcreeper - Commonly heard in canyons around Yecora saw a pair of birds well.
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet - Several birds seen and heard around Alamos.
Olive-sided Flycatcher - One bird seen on Mesa Campenero.
Tufted Flycatcher - At least 10 birds seen in the mountains around Yecora.
Greater Pewee - Common in mountains around Yecora.
Western Wood-Pewee - Three or 4 birds seen on Mesa Campenero.
Nutting's Flycatcher - Many birds heard and seen at lower elevations.
Brown-crested Flycatcher - Many birds seen and heard primarily along riparian habitats.
Great Kiskadee - Three birds heard at hwy. 16 km 70 and a couple more along the Rio Mayo at Navojoa.
Social Flycatcher - Several birds seen along Rio Cuchujaqui, Rio Mayo at Navojoa and Rio Yaqui at Bacum.
Tropical Kingbird - Several birds seen and heard at Rio Cuchujaqui, Rio Mayo at Navojoa and Rio Yaqui at Bacum.
Thick-billed Kingbird - Abundant at lower elevation habitats.
Rose-throated Becard - Common along Rio Cuchujaqui.
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Magpie-Jay - Common in thorn forest habitat.
Purplish-backed Jay - Eight birds seen along Rio Cuchujaqui.
Sinaloa Crow - Very abundant around Alamos, Navojoa, and Ciudad Obregon.
Mexican Chickadee - Two or 3 birds seen on Mesa Campenero.
Spotted Wren - Nesting pair of birds at barranca.
Sinaloa Wren - Seen or heard in most mid to lower elevation riparian habitats.
Happy Wren - Several birds seen along Rio Cuchujaqui.
Black-capped Gnatcatcher - Only one male bird seen along Rio Cuchujaqui a couple others heard in thorn forest.
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush - One bird heard and seen at barranca.
Eastern Bluebird - Common in mountains around Yecora.
Townsend's Solitaire - Two birds seen on Mesa Campenero.
Brown-backed Solitaire - Three or 4 birds seen and heard on Mesa Campenero.
White-throated Robin - One bird seen in canyon along hwy. 16 at km 275.
Rufous-backed Robin - Several birds seen along Rio Cuchujaqui.
Blue Mockingbird - Several birds seen and heard along Rio Cuchujaqui and at barranca.
Crescent-chested Warbler - Seven or 8 birds seen and heard in the mountains around Yecora.
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Slate-throated Redstart - Seven or 8 birds seen in the mountains around Yecora.
Rufous-capped Warbler - Only 2 birds seen at KM 196
Olive Warbler - Fairly common on Mesa Campenero.
Flame-colored Tanager - Male and female seen at the barranca.
Yellow Grosbeak - Common bird around Alamos and thorn forest, most were males.
Varied Bunting - Abundant around Alamos.
Rufous-winged Sparrow - Several birds heard and 1 seen along hwy.16 at km70.
Rusty Sparrow - Two or 3 birds seen at the barranca.
Brewer's Sparrow - Two birds seen at the Rio Cuchujaqui.
Five-striped Sparrow - One bird seen at Navojoa.
White-crowned Sparrow - One bird seen along Rio Cuchujaqui.
Yellow-eyed Junco - Several seen and heard in mountains around Yecora.
Orchard Oriole - Three males and 2 females along Rio Mayo at Navojoa.
Streak-backed Oriole - Most common oriole. Seen in mid to lower elevation habitats.