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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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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On the Road Again

We finally got started on our AZ day trips again. I’ve been back from IN for about 6 weeks and, with a sick kitty (who now feels better), monsoons, and other assorted issues, it seemed hard to get going. But we went back to Woods Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim (one of our many favorite places) yesterday. The temperature was 68 degrees, quite a nice relief from the constant Phoenix heat. Cool, refreshing, beautiful, peaceful. Here are some of our sights in semi-chronological order.

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel

We were feeding these guys peanuts, which you can see are stuffed in this one’s cheeks, but we also dropped the occasional piece of popcorn. This one was particularly greedy and unafraid of us so kept begging for more.

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel and Grey-collared Chipmunk (in foreground)

Most Jays are very loud, very pretty, and fun to watch and these are no exception.

Steller’s Jay

I was very surprised to see this guy land quite close to me before he took off in a hurry. We also saw several members of its family flying over the lake.

Bald Eagle, immature

It was so lush in the forest after all the monsoon rains. No mosquitoes, though!

Speaking of loud and boisterous:

Common Raven

It was not real birdy, though, oddly. Other than hearing the Jays and Ravens, it was pretty quiet. We did also see, briefly, some sort of wren, warbler, and woodpecker but not long enough for photos.

Then we stopped on the Rim for the views before we left and there we saw more birds. There were many Turkey Vultures riding the currents.

This is the very edge of the Rim, looking down, glad I didn’t trip:

Lesser Goldfinch

There were several varieties of pine (or fir?) trees here.

Dark-eyed Junco, Red-backed subspecies, juvenile

Plateau Fence Lizard

Mountains as far as you can see. It was great to be out again and to have something different to blog about again! Hopefully, we are back in our routine of regular adventures.

Stuck Between Two Places

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Yard bird species #42 welcomed me back to our Phoenix yard. He’s been around a few times so I hope he will stick around. He seems to enjoy the dining choices.

I’m glad to be back home but I feel like I’m in a fog and sort of half in Indiana and half here. Sometimes when I wake up, I can’t figure out where I am. So far my mom is doing pretty well and has more help at home but she’s quite elderly. I mean, I’m technically elderly now, too, so she really is and it’s worrisome. I’m trying to get back in my routine but it’s coming very slowly.


Brown-headed Cowbird, juvenile

Nice to see my familiar birds again, though. It’s excruciatingly hot and humid here. We’re in our monsoon season so I have yet to get back out birding other than occasionally sitting in the yard briefly.

Curve-billed Thrasher

House Finches

Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Black-chinned Hummingbird, female

Northern Mockingbird (sorry, gecko)

We haven’t gone on any of our day trips yet and I would really like to go up north but, with the monsoons, it’s not always good to be out driving in the late afternoons so I don’t know when we will go somewhere…soon, I hope.

Well, because of my computer crashing while I was back in Indiana and needing to get a new one, I temporarily had no access to all of my photos. I got the files restored from my old hard drive so here are a few more photos from Indiana that I couldn’t post earlier.

Darden Bridge on the St. Joseph River

Eastern Chipmunk (destructive little beasts)

Red-bellied Woodpeckers

Fox Squirrels

American Robin, juvenile

Blue Jay