Apache Trail

Canyon Lake Pano

Canyon Lake Vista

We went on another new-to-us day trip the other day. We took the Apache Trail (SR 88) from Apache Junction to 6 miles past Tortilla Flat (Milepost 220). I spent hours trying to stitch these 3 photos above into a panorama but could only do two without it getting all bolloxed up. So I opted for using the last 2. Guess I need to experiment more.

Tortilla Flat (pop. 6) is a 115 year old former stagecoach stop that is now a tourist trap with restaurant, saloon, general store, mercantile, and museum, but the drive there is lovely and paved.

Curves

Tortilla CreekTortilla Creek

American SnoutAmerican Snout

Green Ocotillos

Ocotillo Close

It’s rained a lot in our area lately due to 2 tropical storms. I’ve never seen such green Ocotillos; they almost looked plastic.

Rolling Mtns

More Mtns

BridgeBoulder Creek Bridge, built in 1937

It was another cloudy day and there weren’t many birds cooperating. Here are a couple we saw by the lake.

YRWAYellow-rumped Warbler

RWBLRed-winged Blackbird, male

Osprey on Wire

Osprey 2_edited-1Ospreys

We saw a few Ospreys, going in for the dive, but no one came up with anything while we were watching.

Hide 1Someone’s hide and hair; it is the Wild West

Pavement Ends_edited-1

This is where we stopped, not so much because we’re chickens but our SUV is not a 4WD. We might rent a Jeep one day and do the rest of the trip. I’ve heard December is the best time to take the drive because of the fall colors. I think it would be pretty dramatic since I know you see Fish Creek, Apache Lake, the Salt River, and end at Roosevelt Lake.

Vista

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Hello, October!

Desert CottontailDesert Cottontail

Dragonfly SXGMexican Amberwing, female

Vermiflion FC 3 SXG_edited-1

Vermilion FC 2 SXGVermilion Flycatcher, female

October is a good month for Phoenix since the mornings and nights get cooler, although the days can still get hot. Right now, we have the remnants of Hurricane Rosa bringing us rain and clouds so it’s cooler than normal, high 70s-80s. Feels great after a long, hot summer.

The above photos were taken at Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden one day last week. I love the light there. I often see warblers there during migration but not this time.

The next few photos were taken yesterday at Desert Botanical Garden on a gloomy day. I mistakenly thought the birds would be out in full force but I was wrong again. There were a ton of Queens, though.

Queen 1

Queen 3Queen Butterfly

Cactus Wren Lomo

Cactus Wren 2Cactus Wrens

QuailGambel’s Quail, male

Bee and Sunflower

SulphurSulphur with tattered wings

Verdin 2Verdin, mid-snack

I just don’t know where all the migrating birds are!!! I keep looking. The following photos were taken in our yard last week. The skippers are out in full force.

Skipper 9.23Fiery Skipper in Lantana

Svengi as ElvisSvengali does Elvis

It’s definitely beginning to look and feel like Fall here. Happy October!

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Tonto Creek

Tonto Creek 1

Tonto Creek 3

We went back to the Mogollon Rim one day last week but to a different place, Tonto Creek. It was a sunny, breezy, cool (for us) day.

Trout

My 3 month streak of no lifers ended on this day with 2 new birds.

Common Blackhawk 1_edited-1

Common Blackhawk 2

Common Blackhawk 3Common Black Hawk

These birds are not real common although they are known in that location. When they’re adults, they are mostly black but isn’t this one a beautiful bird? He’s learning young how to hunt the lazy way since he was at the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery and I imagine he can just swoop down into the raceways and grab a fish when he wants.

Tonto Creek 2

American Lady 1American Lady (I usually see Painted Ladies)

Hummingbird MothWhite-lined Sphinx Moth (Hummingbird Moth)

Southwestern AzuresSouthwestern Azures

Swainson's ThrushSwainson’s Thrush (2nd Lifer)

Tonto Creek 4

We still had a little time  before we needed to head back to Phoenix so we drove on a few miles back to Willow Springs Lake. The only other time we were there it was cold and raining even though it was July.

Willow Springs Lake 2

Steller's JaySteller’s Jay

GM Ground Squirrle Apple 1

Squirrel-and-AppleGolden-mantled Ground Squirrel

Willow Springs Lake 1

75° felt great!

Mingus Mountain

We went somewhere we’d never been before!

Mingus Mountain Vista overlooking Cottonwood

The only problem is that it rained and was threatening more storms the whole time we were there…

And those impending storms prevented us from climbing the fire tower, which would have been totally cool and now is one of my goals. We did spend about an hour with the very colorful fireguard, “Johnny Mingus,” and got some Smokey the Bear memorabilia. We hope to see Johnny again (and Smokey).

Mingus Lake (or Elk Well) was more like a puddle as the rain up there has been sparse but, oddly, there were people fishing.

They leave their lures.

There were meadows and wildflowers everywhere, something we don’t always see in the mountains.

And the birding wasn’t great or at least the photographing of birds wasn’t great with the cloudy skies. Plus they kept their distance.

Acorn Woodpecker

Spotted Towhee

The warblers are now heading south! Some will be wintering in Phoenix, others will be heading further down. Hope to see some in our yard soon.

Orange-crowned Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warblers

Wilson’s Warblers, male and female

Western Bluebird overlooking a meadow

Target even though no hunting or shooting allowed

Tent Caterpillars everywhere!

Dark-eyed Juncos, Red-backed subspecies

Interesting to see ocotillos amidst the pines.

A perfect pine among the others…

…is really a cell tower.

I’d love to go back sometime on a sunny day.

Edit: I made a panorama out of the first 2 shots in this post.

Untitled_Panorama3_edited-1

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The Promise of Fall

Lesser Goldfinch, male

Some days it’s only around 100° here now! The difference between 100 and 110+ is pretty significant. It’s almost bearable to sit out in the shade for an hour or so. We’re still in our monsoon season, though, so it’s humid (for AZ). But there are signs that the season will change…maybe not totally for a couple months but, in just one month, our nights will become pleasant again and that will be a relief. Meanwhile there are a few other signs of better times coming…

The lantana is blooming and there are more butterflies…

Orange Sulphur (I think)

Fiery Skippers

Mournful Duskywing

No migrating birds spotted in our yard yet and those that are here are still molting and rough-looking but the Lesser Goldfinches are more plentiful and everyone is more active.

Verdins, adult and immature
Curve-billed ThrasherInca Doves
Gila Woodpecker, male

Anna’s Hummingbirds, male

Black-chinned Hummingbirds, male and female

And he flew off into the light…

After McCain’s death, he wrote in his 2018 memoir, The Restless Wave, the Audubon Society will make [part of the land on his Cornville, AZ ranch] a special birding area.

“The thought of that pleases me very much,” he wrote. (azcentral)