See that little camouflaged cutie singing his heart out?
It’s my most recent lifer, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, which we saw on Mt. Ord.
Mt. Ord is the highest point in Maricopa County, the huge county in which Phoenix is located. It is 7,129 feet tall and is located off the Beeline Highway on the way to Payson. It is accessible by Forest Road 626. There are communication towers and a ranger station up there. So we drove my poor Ford Fusion up this 6 mile long, bumpy, rutted, narrow, winding dirt road, with no guardrails (and back down). It was do-able but a 4WD would have certainly been preferable and would be the only way I would do it in the future. But it was worth it because it was beautiful up there.
There are a ton of birds up there, and many that would be lifers for me, if we had found them…the only other “lifer” I found was this Dark-eyed Junco, Gray-headed variant. Technically, it is not a lifer as I’ve seen Dark-eyed Juncos before, but since I’m trying to hit 60 lifers in 2017, I’m counting variants, too.
A few views from the top:
There was a fire on Mt. Ord last September, burning 1335 acres, so there are many burned trees.
You can park 1/2 mile from the top of Mt. Ord and then take this trail the rest of the way to the top.
There are other hiking trails on the mountain, as well as an old mine (we didn’t see it).
In my Facebook birding group (Birding–Arizona and the Southwest), another member and her husband went the day before Tony and I did. She was posting several birds that I didn’t see and I mentioned that to her. She said, “Oh, we had a guide.” So…next time, I want a 4WD with someone else driving and a guide!
Here’s a short Arizona Highways article about Mt. Ord.