Gateway Trailhead

mtn view

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…

painted ladyPainted Lady

brittlebushCreosote

Birds, none for most of the trail until we got towards the end…

btsp 2

btsp 1Black-throated Sparrow

mtn view 2

mtn view 3

cactus

downed cactus

gila on cactusGila Woodpecker

thrasherCurve-billed Thrasher

looking down

mtn with antennae

antenna close_edited-1Thompson Peak

flicker over cityGilded Flicker

finch

finches flyingHouse Finches

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…

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2019 Begins…

prickly pear

prickly pear 2

We went for a late afternoon walk around Desert Botanical Garden the other day. We had some really cold days here and, with the holidays and all, we haven’t been on one of our day trips for about a month so we have to get back on the road again soon. Meanwhile…

butte

I thought the birds would be a little more active. We did see a lot of quail, doves, starlings but I didn’t take photos of them. We also saw a cute little wren that I would have liked to get a photo of to identify it but it wasn’t cooperative.

costa's female_edited-1

costa's female 2_edited-1Anna’s or Costa’s Hummingbird, female

flora

There were very few butterflies. I imagine many froze during the cold snap. 😦

queen bflyQueen Butterfly

verdin_edited-1Verdin

square square

cactus wrenCactus Wren

rose

cactus

Being at the Garden reminded me that I didn’t meet any of my goals for 2018! I had similar goals for 2017 and met them all but 2018 was different. Spending 5 weeks in Indiana unexpectedly threw me off for the whole year. When I got back, I couldn’t get back into the swing for quite awhile, one of my cats got very sick, and then the summer was so hot that I just decided I would chuck my 2018 goals:

  1. Volunteer 100 hours at Desert Botanical Garden. Not even close (compared to 102.75 in 2017).
  2. Find 50 new Lifers (new birds). Found 36 (compared to 58 in 2017).
  3. Go on many AZ day trips with Tony. Went on 16 (compared to 23 in 2017).

I also went to a few parks on my own and a few expeditions with my birding friend, Karen, plus I went to a couple places back in Indiana so I did see many pretty sights, gorgeous birds, and other wildlife so I can’t really complain. But I’ve decided not to be too specific in my 2019 goals:

  1. Maybe volunteer at Desert Botanical Garden, maybe not. Maybe elsewhere, maybe not.
  2. Find some new birds.
  3. Go on as many day trips with Tony as we can.
  4. Take as many photos as I can.

These were my first bird photos of 2019. It was cloudy, cold, and rainy so they were from my yard only. The hummers were all fluffed up.

anna's 010119_edited-1

anna's 1.1_edited-2Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Hope your year is off to a good start and that you have many exciting goals…or no goals…but fun times ahead.

 

Butcher Jones Trail

Along the Trail

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.

Osprey FlareOsprey

We saw more butterflies than I’ve ever seen in one place, many groups of several.

Butterfly GroupSouthern Dogface (open wings) and other Sulphurs 

Empress LeiliaEmpress Leilia (a first)

QueenQueen

Dfly 2

Clark's GrebeClark’s Grebe (lifer)

We saw this well-known guy with one foot in exactly the same place we saw him last November.

GBH BJ_edited-2

GBH One FootGreat Blue Heron

More of the trail:

Trail 2_edited-1

Trail 3

View

Cactus DetailSaguaro Detail

Mesquite BosqueMesquite Bosque

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.

Coon Bluf 11.19_edited-1

And now we’re on to December…

November in Phoenix

Western Pygmy BlueWestern Pygmy-Blue, smallest butterfly in North America

It’s been a glorious November, weather-wise, in Phoenix, following an equally glorious October.

Cone Flower

Anna's 11.2

Hummer Flight 10_edited-1Anna’s Hummingbirds, males

Verdin DD

Verdin on Dead BranchVerdins

Svengi on Mat_edited-1Svengali in the sunny catport (formerly the carport)

Google SunlightGoogle in the sun

Goldfinch 11.4Lesser Goldfinch, male

OCWA Round_Leaves

OCWA 2 11.3Orange-crowned Warbler (“Tink”)

Muhly Grass

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.

Pygmy in Muhly GrassWestern Pygmy-Blue in Muhly Grass

Mock on Roof

Mock in LantanaNorthern Mockingbirds

Lantana BerriesLantana Berries, delicious to all

Starling 11.2European Starling

Skipper from AboveFiery Skipper

Autumn Finch_edited-1House Finch

And…my 44th yard bird species…who seems to have only hung around for a couple days:

House Wren_edited-1House Wren

It was a very cute, tiny, curious, loud visitor. I wish I could have gotten a better photo before it took off…

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Old Beeline Highway

Old Beeline Hwy

Old Beeline Hwy 2

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.

Canyon Towhee SCCanyon Towhee

The lack of wildife was disappointing but we did see some autumn colors along the way, something we don’t really experience in Phoenix.

Autumn 1 SC

Autumn 5 SC

Autumn 4 SC

Autumn 3 SC

Autumn 6 SC

Autumn 2 SC

Here are a few more sights along the quiet road.

Bfly SCCommon Buckeye

LilySacred Datura

PoppyWild Poppy

Purple FlowersAsters

White Yellow FlowersFalse Garlic (?)

We could have eaten if we had been lost there.

SundogSundog

Woods

Pond

Payson Mesa

We turned right and headed home, an interesting yet somewhat disappointing day.

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