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…

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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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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!

Lower Camp Creek and Beyond

We went back to Seven Springs in Tonto National Forest a few days ago. We had been there in December but we totally missed the turnoff to one area that I have since found out is really birdy called Lower Camp Creek, an interesting foresty area down in a canyon with a lot of really nice cabins. There were a ton of birds in all the trees and I got 4 lifers there!!!! Sadly, I am embarrassed to post most of the blurry, branch-obstructed photos I got of those four but they were:

Cordilleran Flycatcher

The other three were:

Hammond’s Flycatcher
Bell’s Vireo
Yellow Warbler (which I have been wanting for a long time)

We also saw many other birds including Bushtits, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a Cooper’s Hawk, Black-throated Gray Warblers, a MacGillivray’s Warbler…tons and tons of tiny, fast-moving birds that didn’t want to come out in the open, plus:

Rock Wren

Lots of these guys flying around:

Red-tailed Hawk

Sad, petrified owl

And we saw this huge, beautiful butterfly which is Arizona’s State Butterfly:

Two-tailed Swallowtail

We then continued on the dirt road that leads to Seven Springs itself but, first, we took a turnoff on FR 562 to Humboldt Mountain where there is a FAA Radar Facility. You can drive all the way to the top on a nice, paved road that is also very narrow, wide enough for one vehicle only, full of hairpin turns, switchbacks, and dropoffs but it has guardrails and frequent pull-outs in case you meet anyone coming from the other direction. Fortunately, we didn’t. This is a photo of the mountain with the “Golf Ball” from the last time we went (here).

Golf Ball and Fire Tower

The Guard

It was spectacularly beautiful up there with 360 degree views. From the Golf Ball looking down:

We could see Horseshoe Reservoir, the Verde River, farm fields, mountains as far as you could see:

And finally the road heading back down:

Really, that was my favorite part of the day, even more than getting all those lifers. We then headed back on the dirt road to Seven Springs.

Heading into Seven Springs, you cross a creek that flows over the road so this photo, above, was taken from inside the SUV. Very pretty.

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

Northern Cardinal, male

Common Raven

Guess what? I got one more lifer at Seven Springs, bringing the day’s total to FIVE!

Cassin’s Kingbird

All in all, an awesome day!

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