The evening of Tuesday May 2nd we were at the ranch cookout in Cottonwood Grove. I had my binoculars with me which caught the eye of Vivian, based at Bellota Ranch. She came across to have a chat and mentioned that there was a pair of nesting Zone-tailed Hawks up at her ranch. She kindly arranged for us to be taken up there on Friday 5th to see the birds and to have a look around.
At about 8.30am we began the trip up to Bellota Ranch, along a 'rural' road cum track. After an exciting journey, during which we had brief views of Pyrrhuloxia, TV and Zone-tailed Hawk, we reached the ranch. Vivian and her husband gave us a nice cool drink and we watched their feeder which attracted Black-headed Grosbeak, Northern Cardinal and House Finch. Another feeder in the courtyard added Anna's Hummingbird and Bullock's Oriole.
Helen and Vivian and the kind of vehicle required to get to Bellota Ranch
Vivian then led us down a dry wash towards the nest. On the way we had Black-throated Sparrow, Say's Phoebe, Lark Sparrow, Cooper's Hawk, Hooded Oriole, TV, White-winged Dove and Bewick's Wren. It wasn't long before we came to a bend in the wash around which was the hawks' nest, about 60 metres away. I set up the 'scope and saw an adult bird on the nest. In the 15 or so minutes we watched the bird it sat obligingly on various branches, flew around and overhead and called occasionally. Watching this bird really was a highlight of the trip and well worth the ride up.
Heading back to the main ranch buildings we had Juniper Titmouse, a lone flycatcher which turned out to be a Greater Pewee, Ash-throated Flycatchers, Wilson's Warbler, Bridled Titmouse, Canyon Towhee and Ladder-backed Woodpecker. A party of six Mexican Jays fed at and around another feeder. A quick look around the other side of the ranch buildings added Gambels' Quail, a pair of Vermilion Flycatchers and Cassin's Kingbird. A detour off the track on the way back showed us a small lake where Vivian had Great Blue Heron, and we all had Killdeer and nesting Black Phoebe.