Day 4 – California Gulch and Ruby Road – Five-striped Sparrow

Melody arrived at our hotel at 4:30 am and we were both raring to go.

We had a 55 mile drive to Arivica, then another 35 miles of dirt roads to California Gulch.

California Gulch is an area near the Mexican border.  This would be my 3rd attempt for the 5-striped Sparrow.  The first two failed due to illegal activities in the area and the Border patrol would not let us continue. You can run into border patrols anywhere along the route, which can be a blessing if you break down. This day we saw at least 5 different border patrol vehicles at different spots along the route. You could also run into others types….


This is not a place for anything but SUV’s or trucks as there are no services, no stores and it is rugged. If it’s dry when you go in not a problem, but if it rains while you are in there or before, that is a real problem. Our destination was the back side of where the arrow points.


Getting closer…


Around to the back side……


Only a few more hundred yards, can you see the road we are on?


We finally arrived at California Gulch at 10:47 am, yup 5 hours. Parking the car, Melody’s ears began to twitch, and by then we had learned to pay attention. We all picked up on the birds but couldn’t get a good look, gnatcatchers, probable Black-capped.

We picked up another bird and it was one species I hadn’t seen since my first Birdquest trip to Arizona in 2004. Sitting out on a branch it gave me an opportunity to get a photo.



Moving on, Melody’s ears began twitching again…Rick (his hearing is very good) and I could not hear a thing. We followed through the gulch to the road on the other side, at least 100 feet. She called out “there it is” – simply amazing hearing.

I got a decent view with my bins, I managed one photo and the bird flew off. The inset was a bit later.

ABA Bird #657 – Five-striped Sparrow



We hiked the short distance back to the car.  Birds were everywhere but due to the 98 F temp., most were staying in the shade, except for a lone Bullocks Oriole…


We stopped along the way for another of Melody’s lunches…thanks again. I needed to stretch my legs and went wandering, picking up a fairly common but lovely Young Mexican Jay.


On the way out we headed back to Ruby Road and headed east to Patagonia Lake, looking for Montezuma Quail. On this day the Quail were a no show.

Arriving at Patagonia Lake State Park we took a short stroll looking for the Least Grebe, and picked up a Neotropic Cormorant and a Dusky-capped Flycatcher.



We left the area and headed back to Madera Canyon, stopping at Subways to pick up something for supper. We had one more stop, it was to hopefully to hear and see a Buff-collared Nightjar.

We sat in a area where Melody had been seeing and hearing a Nighjar for the past 3 weeks but on this night it stayed silent. That’s birding though, sometimes the birds just aren’t obliging.

Arriving at the hotel at 10 pm, Melody, Rick and I had been on the road for 18 hours, above and beyond the call of duty for any birding Guide. We hqad seen some great birds and scenery that day.

I really don’t remember my head hitting the pillow.  Tomorrow is another day.

Ciao for now….

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