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…
Mexican Amberwing, female
Vermilion Flycatcher, female
October is a good month for Phoenix since the mornings and nights get cooler, although the days can still get hot. Right now, we have the remnants of Hurricane Rosa bringing us rain and clouds so it’s cooler than normal, high 70s-80s. Feels great after a long, hot summer.
The above photos were taken at Scottsdale Xeriscape Garden one day last week. I love the light there. I often see warblers there during migration but not this time.
The next few photos were taken yesterday at Desert Botanical Garden on a gloomy day. I mistakenly thought the birds would be out in full force but I was wrong again. There were a ton of Queens, though.
Gambel’s Quail, male
Sulphur with tattered wings
I just don’t know where all the migrating birds are!!! I keep looking. The following photos were taken in our yard last week. The skippers are out in full force.
Fiery Skipper in Lantana
Svengali does Elvis
It’s definitely beginning to look and feel like Fall here. Happy October!
Happy Spring! I know it may not look like spring everywhere but it does here in Arizona. These first 3 shots were taken in our yard on the Vernal Equinox and the others were taken close to it.
Painted Lady on Lantana
There are actually 4 critters in the above photo, 2 besides the obvious butterfly and bee, which I didn’t see until editing the photo. The answers to this puzzle will appear at the end of this post.
Fiery Skipper on Lantana
Black-chinned Hummingbird, male
We only have Black-chinned hummers in the spring. I don’t know if this is the same one that has been coming for the last couple of years but he arrived on schedule and usually stays until May. It’s very hard to get a shot with the purple collar showing but here is one from last year. I hope he will be cooperative again this year. Right now he is very shy and skittish.
Anna’s Hummingbird, male
Yesterday I was at the Desert Botanical Garden, specifically looking for this one particular bird that has been there for several weeks. I’m always amazed when I can find one little bird in a big place but this time I actually did within about 10 minutes and not where he normally hangs out. He should be migrating to California soon but maybe he has decided to stay. He is molting right now so his throat feathers will be more resplendent in coming weeks but he’s still pretty cute right now.
From Granada Park in Phoenix:
Yellow-rumped Warbler, female
From Lake Margherite in Scottsdale:
Northern Shoveler couple
From Evelyn Hallman Park in Tempe:
What says “Spring” like baby ducks?
The four critters in the butterfly and bee photo:
These photos might look a lot like those I posted a couple weeks ago at Brown’s Ranch Trail. We went back to the beautiful McDowell Sonoran Preserve in north Scottsdale. We were a few miles northeast of Brown’s Ranch at Granite Mountain Trailhead. The difference was this day was cloudy, there were almost no birds, and there was a ton more granite. Oh, and the views of the surrounding mountains were pretty awesome.
We saw a few squirrels but we also think we saw a Bobcat…no photo, of course.
Weaver’s Needle in the Superstition Mountains
It was a great day for a hike, though, as the weather was very pleasant and the views were great.
Brown’s Ranch was founded in 1917 by E.O. Brown, a Scottsdale entrepreneur, and encompassed 44,000 acres at its peak, supporting 3,000 to 5,000 head of cattle. His descendants lived on the ranch until 1970. After changing hands several times, the remainder of the ranch was acquired by the City of Scottsdale in 1999 for inclusion in the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The Preserve is a large, permanently protected, sustainable desert habitat that includes an interconnected network of non-motorized, multi-use trails (hike/bike/horse) accessed from multiple trailhead locations over 30,500 acres. It is the largest urban park in the U.S.
It was a sunny, windy day and the 3 mile Brown’s Ranch Trail just got prettier and birdier the farther we went. We’d never been to any part of the Preserve before and I had no idea it was so beautiful. The trails were great. We’ll be exploring more of it soon.
White-crowned Sparrow (on agave stalk)
I imagine in the spring, when the desert is in bloom, that it is even more spectacular.
Cactus Wren (on agave stalk)
Phainopepla, male (on agave stalk)
Gilded Flicker couple
Yes, those are bullet holes even though shooting is not allowed in the Preserve. But this is Arizona, the Wild West.
Mount Humboldt with FAA Radar Facility
Northern Mockingbird (on agave stalk)
There were no lifers but it is definitely on the “return to” list, at some point. And I learned that birds love dried agave stalks so I am in search of one for my backyard photo props.