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!

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.

Global Big Day

Desert Spiny Lizard (regrowing his tail after some incident or accident)

Phainopepla, male

On May 5, Global Big Day, 28,000 people ventured outside in 170 countries, finding 6899 species: 2/3rds of the world’s bird species in one day. This is a new world record for birding and more birds seen by the Global Big Day team than any one person has ever seen in an entire year. You can read more about the results here.

My birding friend, Karen, and I went to Hassayampa Reserve Preserve, near Wickenburg, that day so that we could participate. By submitting our sightings to ebird.org, our results are included in all this data, too.

I have a slight disclaimer. While we did see many Desert Spiny Lizards and Phainopeplas that day, the above 2 photos are actually from another day when I was at Desert Botanical Garden because the shots I got on May 5 were not as good. That said, all the following shots were taken at Hassayampa on May 5. It is very dense and dark there, tree-wise, so I’m not pleased with many of these shots.

Yellow-breasted Chat (lifer)

This bird, above, was the bird both of us were most hoping to see as it was a lifer for both of us. They were very elusive but I finally got a couple mediocre shots. You can see, in the second photo, that this bird has a band around its left leg.

I got 2 more lifers that day (with no photos):

Common Yellowthroat
Lazuli Bunting~the male is gorgeous but we saw only the female, pretty but not nearly as colorful

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Myrtle subspecies

The above bird was a little unusual to see as we usually see the Audubon’s subspecies around here. The Audubon’s has a yellow throat and the Myrtle has a white throat and other subtle differences.

Vermilion Flycatchers, male and female

Wilson’s Warbler, male

Townsend’s Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Song Sparrow

Summer Tanager, male

Pine Siskin

Red-winged Blackbirds, male and female

Ornate Tree Lizard

A couple more excerpts from the article I mentioned earlier:

For the second year in a row, Colombia led the world in bird species on Global Big Day. The herculean efforts of the Colombian birding community found an unfathomable 1546 species in one country in one day.

The final US tally was 716, bolstered by great totals from Texas (408), California (361), and Arizona (310). US eBirders also documented 577 species with photographs in their eBird checklists, and 172 with audio—quite remarkable!

And there you have it—another birding world record in the books! Never before have so many birders gone out in this many countries, found so many birds, and noted them all down in eBird for their fellow birders, researchers, and conservationists.

Back to Madera Canyon

It’s a penguin!

Not really.

Acorn Woodpecker

Last week we were back at one of our favorite places, for the second time ever. We had been there almost exactly one year prior (last year’s post). Last year I got 5 lifers; this year I got 5 more. Many consider Madera Canyon the third hottest birding spot in the U.S. as it is a very diverse environment (part of the Madrean Sky Islands). This was my favorite and the target bird for the day:

Arizona Woodpecker, male (lifer)

He was accommodating and came right to the feeders at Santa Rita Lodge a couple of times while we sat there in their bird viewing area. This is the only brown woodpecker in the world and is only found in southeastern Arizona and part of Mexico.

Pine Siskins, Lesser Goldfinches, House Finches

The Pine Siskins were also lifers but I have a feeling they were there last year, too, and that I thought they were finches.

Rufous-crowned Sparrow (lifer)

We also saw a Red-faced Warbler (lifer) but my photo does not do it justice. They’re a fairly uncommon bird.

Then we also heard the bird that is almost everyone’s target when going to Madera Canyon, the Elegant Trogon. We hiked a little with another couple looking for him and, after not locating it where we heard it might be, we split up. We kept hearing it calling as it has a very loud and distinctive call. We found the other couple again and, of course, they had gotten views of it! The American Birding Association considers heard-only birds to be as countable as seen birds. I don’t really agree as I would have loved to have seen it but I’m still counting it as my fifth lifer. This is what they look like and, in the U.S., are only found in Arizona and occasionally southern Texas. They’re really a Mexican bird and look very exotic and tropical. Someday we’ll see one!!!!

I love these birds and they are plentiful there. They are also a Mexican bird found only in southern AZ and southern TX:

Mexican Jay

They’re loud and boisterous like other Jays.

View from Old Baldy Trail

Santa Rita Lodge also has hummingbird feeders. I think these are the most beautiful of the hummers I’ve seen:

Broad-billed Hummingbirds (last one is a female)

Cordilleran Flycatcher

Chipping Sparrow

Black-headed Grosbeak

Just like last year, as we were getting ready to leave, we saw a couple of these guys:

Coues White-tailed Deer

The weather was perfect and it was another great day in Madera Canyon!

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