The Top of Mount Ord

This was our third trip to Mt. Ord. The first time we drove as high as we could but did not finish hiking the road to the top. The second time, we had car problems and only drove about halfway up the mountain. This time, we drove as high as allowed, and hiked the road (almost) to the top. We did not climb the lookout tower, though. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t.

The crystal ball came along…

“Pima” Desert Orangetip

Hoverfly and “Pima” Desert Orangetip

There’s a place about halfway up the mountain, Forest Road 1688, referred to as the “saddle,” where I got 5 of 6 (technically 7) lifers! Sadly, the photos are pretty bad for most of them. It’s dark in the forest and it was cloudy anyway. Here’s what I got:

Cassin’s Finch
Painted Redstart
Evening Grosbeak
Olive Warbler
Lewis’s Woodpecker
Dusky/Hammond’s Flycatcher
Grace’s Warbler (heard only)

We met the nicest birder, Anne, at the saddle. If it were not for her, I probably would have only gotten 3 lifers that day. Still good, but 7 is better. The one that we heard only, I am not really going to count as I would rather see it. Someday…

These lifer photos are all pretty bad…the other 2 are even worse so I’m not posting them here:

Evening Grosbeaks (lifer)

Painted Redstart (lifer)

Dusky/Hammond’s Flycatcher (impossible to tell which it is but lifer either way)

Lewis’s Woodpecker (lifer)

A deer ran across the road in front of us!

Theodore Roosevelt Lake

White-breasted Nuthatch

Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, male

Hutton’s Vireo

Bridled Titmouse

Black-throated Gray Warbler

The top of Mount Ord

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Granite Reef

This beautiful Ladder-backed Woodpecker was busy excavating a hole in a mesquite tree when we were at Granite Reef Recreation Area on the Lower Salt River last week. This is the first time I’ve been able to get photos of one at eye level. He was not bothered by me at all and I got within 10 feet of him.

It was a big hole because he was able to get all the way inside.

Granite Reef is the best place to see Red Mountain. Its real name is Mount McDowell but everyone refers to it as Red Mountain because of the way it looks in the sunset. It was not quite sunset when this photo was taken. Red Mountain is on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation and is off limits to hikers, climbers, and photographers.

Western Kingbird

Vermilion Flycatcher, male

Say’s Phoebe

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Song Sparrow

We really went to try to find the Bald Eagles that nest there as well as a Peregrine Falcon who returns every year. We never saw the falcon and all our views of the eagles were from across the river. We did see two parents and there are two chicks in the nest. Bad photos…

This guy was up in the air the whole time we were there:

And, just as we were leaving, we were lucky enough to see five of the Salt River Wild Horses having a drink and snack right by the parking lot.

Granite Mountain Trailhead

These photos might look a lot like those I posted a couple weeks ago at Brown’s Ranch Trail. We went back to the beautiful McDowell Sonoran Preserve in north Scottsdale. We were a few miles northeast of Brown’s Ranch at Granite Mountain Trailhead. The difference was this day was cloudy, there were almost no birds, and there was a ton more granite. Oh, and the views of the surrounding mountains were pretty awesome.

Four Peaks

Granite Mountain

Cactus Wren

Curve-billed Thrasher

Verdin

We saw a few squirrels but we also think we saw a Bobcat…no photo, of course.

Weaver’s Needle in the Superstition Mountains

It was a great day for a hike, though, as the weather was very pleasant and the views were great.

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Brown’s Ranch Trail

Brown’s Ranch was founded in 1917 by E.O. Brown, a Scottsdale entrepreneur, and encompassed 44,000 acres at its peak, supporting 3,000 to 5,000 head of cattle. His descendants lived on the ranch until 1970. After changing hands several times, the remainder of the ranch was acquired by the City of Scottsdale in 1999 for inclusion in the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The Preserve is a large, permanently protected, sustainable desert habitat that includes an interconnected network of non-motorized, multi-use trails (hike/bike/horse) accessed from multiple trailhead locations over 30,500 acres. It is the largest urban park in the U.S.

Brown’s Mountain

It was a sunny, windy day and the 3 mile Brown’s Ranch Trail just got prettier and birdier the farther we went. We’d never been to any part of the Preserve before and I had no idea it was so beautiful. The trails were great. We’ll be exploring more of it soon.

White-crowned Sparrow (on agave stalk)

Ocotillos

I imagine in the spring, when the desert is in bloom, that it is even more spectacular.

Cactus Wren (on agave stalk)

Cholla, glowing

Cone Mountain

Phainopepla, male (on agave stalk)

Saguaro skeleton

Harris’s Hawk

Gilded Flicker couple

Curve-billed Thrasher

Red-tailed Hawk

Yes, those are bullet holes even though shooting is not allowed in the Preserve. But this is Arizona, the Wild West.

Mount Humboldt with FAA Radar Facility

Northern Mockingbird (on agave stalk)

There were no lifers but it is definitely on the “return to” list, at some point. And I learned that birds love dried agave stalks so I am in search of one for my backyard photo props.

A Sampler

Anna’s Hummingbirds, males

I’ve gone birding a few times lately with a new birder friend, Karen. We went to several places that Tony and I have actually been to so I didn’t take the lens I use for landscapes, only my birding lens. And, of course, I got very few birds at those places so this post is just a sample of some of those birds as well as a few in my yard. These first few are yard birds.

Inca Doves

Gila Woodpeckers, male and female

Northern Mockingbird

Curve-billed Thrasher

Orange-crowned Warbler

One of the places Karen and I went to was Arlington, full of agricultural fields, where Tony and I were in January (post).

Ferruginous Hawk

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Savannah Sparrow

Sandhill Cranes

We saw about 12 cranes, they were lifers for me, as were Brewer’s Blackbirds (no pic).

The following 3 shots were taken at a strange and not very attractive place called Robbins Butte Wildlife Area, run by Arizona Game and Fish Department. The sound of gunfire accompanied us. We did both get a lifer there called Bell’s Sparrow but neither of us got photos. We just saw it briefly and clearly through her scope and then it took off.

Northern Harrier

Western Meadowlark

Kestrel Nesting Box

We drove over to Lake Pleasant Regional Park in search of 2 particular rare waterbirds and found neither.

Rock Wren

Double-crested Cormorant

The other day Karen and I went to Seven Springs, where Tony and I went in December (post). It was cold, windy, raining and hailing and there were very few birds out. We did drive up Humboldt Mountain, where the FAA radar facility is, and it was a gorgeous drive on a narrow but paved road. Once again, I only had my birding lens so no photos. That is on my “return to” list.