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.
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.
My 3 month streak of no lifers ended on this day with 2 new birds.
Common 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.
American Lady (I usually see Painted Ladies)
White-lined Sphinx Moth (Hummingbird Moth)
Swainson’s Thrush (2nd Lifer)
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.