This is the third time we’ve been to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale. It is comprised of 30,500 acres of Sonoran Desert, 7 trailheads, and over 200 miles of trails. This particular trailhead, Gateway, is the closest to town and it was very busy on a weekday afternoon last week. The trails were also very rocky so it was hard to look up while walking with cameras. Basically, it’s not a place that we would go to again but I’m sure many people love it…since there were a ton of them there. Nevertheless, it was still pretty…
Birds, none for most of the trail until we got towards the end…
These are the other trailheads we’ve been to which were farther north, away from the city, and with nicer trails, more dramatic scenery, and better mountain views: Brown’s Ranch Trailhead and Granite Mountain Trailhead. Next time we’ll go to the trails that are farther north again…
We went looking for birds and stuff on Butcher Jones Trail at Saguaro Lake last week. It was supposed to be birdy. As usual, it wasn’t but it was nice anyway.
We saw more butterflies than I’ve ever seen in one place, many groups of several.
Southern Dogface (open wings) and other Sulphurs
Empress Leilia (a first)
Clark’s Grebe (lifer)
We saw this well-known guy with one foot in exactly the same place we saw him last November.
Great Blue Heron
More of the trail:
We briefly stopped at Coon Bluff Recreation Area on the Lower Salt River on the way back, hoping to see some eagles, wild horses, something, but no luck. It was a pretty view, though, and the fall colors were beginning so it was worth the stop.
Western Pygmy-Blue, smallest butterfly in North America
It’s been a glorious November, weather-wise, in Phoenix, following an equally glorious October.
Anna’s Hummingbirds, males
Svengali in the sunny catport (formerly the carport)
Google in the sun
Lesser Goldfinch, male
Orange-crowned Warbler (“Tink”)
This is one of my favorite things I’ve ever bought and I think it cost about $3.99. This is Pink Muhly Grass (Regal Mist), a non-invasive grass. It was tiny when I bought it, looked like a little tuft of grass and I had to ask our yard guy to not mow it or pull it out. I planted it in the remainder of a stump of a tree we had removed. First photo shows it now in all its pink glory, 2nd photo is of the stump, 3rd photo shows it when first planted in March 2017, 4th photo shows it in November 2017. It has grown a ton since then.
Western Pygmy-Blue in Muhly Grass
Lantana Berries, delicious to all
And…my 44th yard bird species…who seems to have only hung around for a couple days:
It was a very cute, tiny, curious, loud visitor. I wish I could have gotten a better photo before it took off…
When SR-87, also known as the Beeline Highway, was widened in 1996, this older segment in the riparian corridor of Sycamore Creek near Sunflower was abandoned. Thus the trees and wildlife habitats are preserved and are much quieter (Arizonensis).
It was definitely quiet there, we only saw a couple vehicles that turned around when they reached a gate but we parked and walked past the gate for over a mile along the creek. We went by an abandoned Forest Service site with dilapidated buildings and broken-down fences. It was honestly kind of eerie and it started to give me the creeps after awhile so we eventually turned back. I do wonder what they plan to do with the whole area…
I got a photo of ONE bird the whole time. This is an area that is supposed to have a ton of birds, some of which we heard but never saw.
The lack of wildife was disappointing but we did see some autumn colors along the way, something we don’t really experience in Phoenix.
Here are a few more sights along the quiet road.
False Garlic (?)
We could have eaten if we had been lost there.
We turned right and headed home, an interesting yet somewhat disappointing day.
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.
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.
Boulder 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.
Red-winged Blackbird, male
We saw a few Ospreys, going in for the dive, but no one came up with anything while we were watching.
Someone’s hide and hair; it is the Wild West
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.