I had no intention of traveling to Arizona until Nina mentioned she had a business trip to Phoenix. The timing coincided with my spring break so I decided to hit SE Arizona before joining her for the upcoming weekend. My objective was to obtain photographs of the wonderful birds that frequent the canyons in the mountains south of Tucson.

I was chasing colorful and common birds not rarities. Some of those photos will be an upcoming blogpost. BUT….the discovery of the code 4 NUTTING’S FLYCATCHER on Tuesday… in the same remote spot it was located last spring, altered my plans somewhat.

My bed & breakfast in the stunning Ramsey Canyon Preserve was only a 90 minute drive to the target bird. However, the last 17 miles are on unpaved roads in the Coronado National Forest, crossing no fewer than six flowing creeks. Fortunately, the Hertz “Manager’s Special” provided me with a sturdy SUV capable of handling these tough conditions.

No wonder I did not see another human for the next six hours! Unfortunately the bird didn’t appear or I simply missed it. This flycatcher vocalizes very infrequently, is somewhat skittish and at only 6-8 inches, not that conspicuous. I returned to Ramsey Canyon with some wonderful shots of common birds but no Nutting’s. Of course, I had to try again today.

I skipped the B & B’s delicious breakfast, and arrived at dawn, three hours earlier than yesterday. Surprisingly, two other cars were already parked by the area close to “the spot”. Two guides with eager clients in tow were already searching the sycamores, cottonwoods and creek beds for any sign of Mr. Nutting’s. Heavy winds kept things quiet and after four hours I was beginning to despair. But then I saw one of the guides (Nolan) in the distance move quickly towards a thicket. He kindly motioned to me across the creek. One of those urgent-like motions. Within thirty seconds, I waded a straight line across the creek and joined him and his elated client viewing the bird!

I discreetly handed Nolan a bill from my wallet and said: “Thank you. I don’t believe I would have found this guy by myself. Buy yourself lunch and a beer”. At first, Nolan politely refused my spontaneous gesture. I insisted. Then he sheepishly smiled at me and stated: “I’m only nineteen”.

About George C. Wood

A birder since age ten, but not necessarily an avid "lister", I am closing in on 700 (*800!) species seen in North America.....hoping to capture each sighting with my camera.
This entry was posted in Quest for 700 (*800!). Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to NUTTING’S FLYCATCHER (SE Arizona)

  1. Julian Heller says:

    Fabulous first bird tales blog message for me . Go George !

  2. Lindy Lou Snider says:

    And an amazing photo!!

  3. Arlin says:

    Fun story!
    Glad it worked out so well!

  4. Tom Mason says:

    Great effort, George!!!

  5. Joe Weisbord says:

    Brilliant, George!!

  6. jmbuck3 says:

    Only 19… Hah! (I’ll bet he still doesn’t have your energy though, Woody.) Great catch out there in AZ!

  7. 75ford76 says:

    Beautiful bird, that Nutting’s Flycatcher. Great perseverance George!

  8. Jay Bennett says:

    Love it Woodie!! My man Nolan too!

  9. Jeff Watkinson says:

    Great catch with Nutting’s Flycatcher.
    beautiful pictures,

  10. Scott Tuttle says:

    Well done . Nice part of the world. You make me envious. Tx for the update.

  11. says:

    Great bird and story George. Keep chasing my friend!

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