VENT’s Camp Chiricahua, sponsored by the ABA, took place in early August in southeastern Arizona. Thirteen campers from across the U.S.
and as far away as Panama arrived in Tucson on Tuesday, August 6 to join
leaders Michael O’Brien, Louise Zemaitis, and me (Jennie Duberstein). After a welcome to Tucson cookout in Madera Canyon, we spent the
first few days camping up on Mount Lemmon at Rose Canyon Lake, getting an
introduction to the Sky Islands and seeing great birds like Zone-tailed Hawk, Olive Warbler, Greater Pewee, and more Red-faced Warblers than you can shake a stick at (seriously, we had 17 on one hike). From there we headed in Portal, Arizona, where we stayed at the American Museum
of Natural History’s Southwestern Research Station. Over the next four days we got our first glimpses at the birds of this
part of the state, including highlights such as Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher,
Bendire’s Thrasher, Greater Roadrunner, Mexican Jay, Cassin’s Sparrow, and
Scaled, Gambel’s, and Montezuma quail (yup, we had the Quail Trifecta in one day. It was a very good day.) 

Campers this year weren't just interested in birds, though, and we also really been enjoyed dragonflies, butterflies, insects, mammals, plants…basically if it moved, we wanted to learn about it. One of the highlights of camp was one evening in Portal when we were out owling and herping and instead came across a ringtail clambering up a tree near Sunny Flat Campground.


Red-faced Warbler at Marshall Gulch, Mount Lemmon (Photo by Jennie Duberstein)

When Michael O'Brien points something out, everyone looks. The other way. (Photo by Jennie Duberstein)


This enormous male Western Hercules Beetle hit me in the back one night and lit on my t-shirt. I only screamed for a little bit. (Photo by Jennie Duberstein)

Ringtail (Photo by Jennie Duberstein)

Abir Quiroz (left) from Panama and 2012 ABA/Leica Young Birder of the Year Marie McGee, from Michigan, enjoying Marshall Gulch (Photo by Jennie Duberstein)

I had to leave the camp to go back to work after our time in Portal, but from there Michael, Louise, and the gang headed to Sierra Vista, where they visited the Huachucas, the San Pedro River, Patagonia Lake (can you say Blue-footed Booby? We can!), the Patagonia Roadside Rest, and then, en route back to Tucson, Madera Canyon.

Stay tuned for a more detailed
report from some of the campers!