Estrella Mountain Regional Park

Red-tailed Hawk

RTHA Over ShoulderRed-tailed Hawk

Isn’t he/she gorgeous? We went to another of Maricopa County’s Regional Parks the other day. It was a gloomy, cloudy day and the park left a lot to be desired. It was definitely the least attractive of all the county parks we’ve visited. This hawk was really the only redeeming factor for me.

RTHA 2

RTHA Flying

We saw a Red-tailed Hawk 3 different times while there so I don’t know if this is the same one as the first 2 photos. The one in the first 2 photos was a very cooperative poser and there was even a little sun by then so it was a great photo op. Thank you, Hawk.

Everything else was pretty mediocre. I had a couple of target birds but we didn’t see them…

Sag Old

Sag Detail

Mtns

Purple Flower

Say's PhoebeSay’s Phoebe

VEFLVermilion Flycatcher

EM Yellow Flowers

EM Scrub

Not a park I would go to again but we did get a free pass to go to another county park so it kind of evened out.

Valentine’s Day is also Arizona Statehood Day. This is a very big saguaro superimposed on a 1912 map. Happy 107th Birthday, Arizona!

Map and Sag

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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…

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…

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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