It’s spring in the desert! We went to Bartlett Lake to see the wildflowers that everyone has been raving about. With all the rain we’ve had, it’s supposed to be a great year for them and it was really beautiful: the lake and the wildflowers. It was a perfect day, temperatures in the 60s, deep blue skies, and wispy clouds.
Bartlett Lake is a reservoir that was formed by the damming of the Verde River, completed in 1939.
We could even see snow-covered Four Peaks in the distance.
This is the Yellow Cliffs area:
The rocks of the cliffs take on their yellow coloration due to an extensive colony of yellow “crustose” lichen.
We saw quite a few people taking photos of the wildflowers but the lake itself was very quiet. One of the best things about being retired is being able to go places during the week and avoiding the crowds. We didn’t even see any ducks or other water birds.
Mexican Poppies and Lupines
The white poppies are rarer.
You can barely see snow-covered Mt. Ord in the distance, above, but this is it closer, below. You can see all the towers on top.
All-in-all, it was a very nice day.
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.
And now we’re on to December…
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.
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.
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.
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
75° felt great!