Jinxed on the Mountain

You can see the forest reflected in the squirrel’s eye.

Arizona Gray Squirrels (endemic to eastern AZ and northern Mexico)

Last Thursday, September 13, we headed back up to Willow Springs Lake on the Mogollon Rim. Last time we went, which happened to be on July 13, it rained a lot and Tony fell into a creek, necessitating a trip to the Payson ER. This was going to be a do-over. As we drove north, our new-to-us SUV’s a/c quit functioning and, as we were still in low elevations, it was pretty uncomfortable. We were coming up on the Mt. Ord turnoff and decided to just go there instead. Last time we were there, we took our car and I had vowed to not go up the winding, rutted 6 mile road again until we had a SUV. No problem, right?

Well, we went a little over 4 miles up and an ominous warning appeared on the dash, “Transmission Failure. Service Now.” That kinda spooked us since it would be really bad to break down up there with no cell service and no easy access for a tow. So we stopped and walked around for a while. When we started the SUV again, the warning light wasn’t on anymore so we headed back down to an area referred to as the “saddle” with a corral and a cistern with running water where there should have been a lot of birds.

Lesser Goldfinch

Acorn Woodpecker

Bridled Titmouse

We met this guy, coming for a drink:

There are several up there. There were also many butterflies! A few held still long enough for photos.

Arizona Sister

Mournful Duskywing

Bauer’s Giant-Skipper

I also got a lifer bird, called a Hutton’s Vireo, but the photo is pretty bad. After spending a couple hours roaming around the saddle, we decided we should head back home since we were still concerned about the a/c and transmission.

Much of the forest road is not this nice.

As we were leaving, a man in a pickup truck stopped and came and talked to us. He was very friendly and chatty. Turns out, he has lived on Mt. Ord since 1992 (as there is private property in amongst the forest land) and he regaled us with colorful mountain tales of bears, lions, rattlesnakes, and other critters. We learned that hunting is legal up there and it is now hunting season (I had guessed that from seeing a couple guys in camouflage with bows). We learned there are plenty of black bears, that mountain lion meat is tasty, that there is all sorts of interesting history on the mountain, involving Spaniards and miners and more.

Okay, he didn’t quite look like that (I wish) and it’s still a little hot to dress that way but you get the idea. He had removed the “F” from the back of his Ford pickup so that it read ORD. Meeting him made me realize, again, that as much as we like going to all these places and hiking around and thinking of ourselves as outdoorsy nature buffs, there’s city folk and there’s country folk, and they’re not the same.

Turkey Vultures

Next best surprise of the day was that our a/c worked just fine and the transmission light never came on again. Nevertheless, the SUV (not Ford-tough) is going in for a checkup Monday and we are not going to attempt any more trips on the 13th of any month, any day.

 

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Globe

House Sparrow

This handsome sparrow posed so prettily for me that I had to take his photo.

Lesser Goldfinches

We went on a day trip to Globe last week. Once again, a trip with no lifers or even very unusual birds. I had a goal to get 60 lifers this year and I’m at 43, I think, but have not had good luck the last few trips.

Vermilion Flycatchers, male and female

Anna’s Hummingbird, male

Phainopepla, female

Besh Ba Gowah

Our main destination in Globe (other than trying, unsuccessfully, to find a good birding place) was Besh Ba Gowah, a partially restored ruin of the Salado people who occupied the site between AD 1225 and AD 1400.

First surveyed and mapped in 1883 by Adolph Bandolier, the ancient ruins occupied by both the Hohokams and the Rio Salado Indians beginning in AD 1600 came to be known as Besh Ba Gowah. It means “a place of metal” in Apache. Later in 1920, a local woman, Irene Vickery, supervised the excavation for the next 20 years and uncovered nearly 200 rooms and 350 burial sites. After her death in the 1940s, the site was left unattended.

But in the 1980s, a Globe councilman, Louie Aguirre, stepped in and rallied support from the city and local community to bring in the Department of Anthropology at Arizona State University to undertake a re-excavation and reconstruction of the site. Parts of it have been left in the excavated state and parts were reconstructed (which, apparently, is controversial in the archaeological world).

Anyway, it was interesting, inexpensive, the employees were very friendly, no one else was there but us for most of the time, and they had bird feeders. They also had a botanical garden and an ethno-botanical garden. They have some crops growing that are similar to crops grown when it was an active Salado community, including teosinte, an ancestor of corn and maize. It was also cooler than Phoenix with a nice breeze blowing…so, all in all, it was a good trip and a pretty drive.

Roasting pit

 

Fain Lake

Fain Lake is in Prescott Valley, AZ (in Fain Park). We stopped there on our way home after going to Lynx Lake in Prescott recently. It’s another place that’s supposed to be “birdy,” but wasn’t when we there, of course.

It might look like the lake is dirty but it was really from severe flooding a few days prior to our visit. There was recently a forest fire in that area and then monsoon rains washed a lot of debris down into the lake and over the dam.

More than 2 feet of water flowed over the dam and it looked like this (not my photo, borrowing it from here).

Back in the day, the dam was used for gold mining but I didn’t quite understand how in the information I saw there.

This is where the water flows after it goes over the dam:

There was old mining equipment throughout the park.

It was a very pretty little park and, as it got to be around 5pm, the locals started heading in after work to enjoy it, too. But because of the stagnant water, these guys were everywhere so we headed back to the desert!

 

Lynx Lake

This is Lynx Lake in Prescott, AZ, part of the Prescott National Forest. We spent a rainy day up there this past week but, fortunately, the rain did let up now and then giving us time to walk around for quite awhile. It’s not that we’re afraid of the rain but I don’t like the cameras to get too soaked.

See the snag on the left side of the above photo?

It was a tree that seemed to attract these cormorants. There were actually more a few minutes later but this is the only photo I got. This guy was top dog in the tree:

Double-crested Cormorant

This is the dam which is at the far end of the first photo.

Flame Skimmer

White-breasted Nuthatch

Great Blue Heron

Pygmy Nuthatch

Red-eared Pond Sliders

It was another bad birding day, certainly no lifers. I hope my bird luck changes soon. As always, it was beautiful up there and much cooler than Phoenix but also very humid.

I guess we had not been to Lynx Lake for 7 years! Here are 2 posts I wrote back then (1 and 2).

We apparently stood in almost the same spot as the top photo in this post back then. Here it is almost exactly 7 years ago:

https://maccandace.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/dsc_0040.jpg?w=1159&h=776

Willow Springs Lake/Christopher Creek

We headed back up to the Mogollon Rim one day last week to go to a different lake…Willow Springs Lake (elevation 7,513 feet). It was beautiful…but raining. The birds were hiding, I didn’t want to get my cameras wet, and it was cold! At the same time that it was 109° in Phoenix it was 50° cooler there.

Abert’s Squirrel

So we left…to return another day. We headed down the hill to Christopher Creek for lunch, hoping it would clear up afterwards.

This is what the Mogollon Rim looks like from below as opposed to what it looks like from above in a previous post.

Christopher Creek is a tiny (3 square miles) census-designated place in northern Gila County. Situated at the base of the Mogollon Rim, the community lies at an elevation of 5,961 feet and is located approximately 23.5 miles northeast of Payson. The population as of the 2010 U.S. Census was 156 (Wikipedia). There were at least 100 homes there so the population must not take into consideration part-time residents. It’s a beautiful little town with some lodges, a couple restaurants, and a market or 2. I was very surprised to see this large, new LDS church there, too.

It’s now the town I wish we could have a 2nd home in (I keep changing towns but it’s just a dream anyway).

It didn’t really clear up, the rain let up a little but it was still very overcast and threatening to rain more so we took a walk on the creek. I heard there are a ton of birds there but they didn’t want to get wet, I guess.

Lots of slippery rocks in the creek as Tony climbed around on them attempting to get that award-winning photo. And this is it:

It’s very pretty. And then he fell on the slippery rocks. He had sprained fingers, we went to the ER in Payson because he thought one was broken, and then we headed home. And this is why you should always have a filter on your lens:

So we will return another day to further explore the area but this is monsoon season so you never know when you’re going to get a non-rainy day, especially up north.