Adios, Midwest!

The mighty and muddy St. Joe River

The St. Joseph River is approximately 206 miles long, zigzagging through southern Michigan and northern Indiana, draining a primarily rural farming area into the watershed of Lake Michigan. You really can’t drive very far without continually crossing over it.

So I am now back home again in Arizona, out of Indiana, hoping that all will be well with my mother for quite awhile, for her sake as well as mine. These first few photos were taken at St. Patrick’s County Park in South Bend, IN. It’s really a beautiful park.

Eastern Bluebird, juvenileRed-Winged Blackbird, femaleWhite-breasted Nuthatch

Great Blue Heron

I got 7 lifer birds total while back there. Some are in my last post. Some are in neither post as I either got no photos or blurry photos. Those ones are Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Baltimore Oriole, and American Goldfinch (seen several times with no photos). Seven isn’t that great for 5 weeks but, considering I was only out in nature for about a total of 8 hours, pretty good. If I had spent more time and had my birding lens with me, it would have been awesome, I’m sure, but I had many other things to do on this trip. I did not get my target Pileated Woodpecker nor the fairly common Red-headed Woodpecker. Someday…

One day, a friend, Judy, and I went to Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in Niles, MI. What a beautiful place. The birding was slow and we got caught in a downpour about 2 hours in but it was lovely before that.


This stick structure was awesome. At the time, we saw no signage so did not know what it was made from but I have since found out that the artist is Patrick Dougherty and the sticks are willow twigs. This piece is called Take Five and was done in 2014. Here is more info on it.

This park is also on the St. Joe River and had some creeks draining into it.

They have had a very wet spring and summer (so far) back there so everything is very lush but we also saw many big trees down.

Jeremiah (he had many friends)

There was a bird viewing area and that is where I saw the lifer hummingbird mentioned earlier. Here are a few photos taken there, through glass that was very reflective on a cloudy day, so they look a little funky.

Blue JayWhite-breasted NuthatchRose-breasted Grosbeak, femaleBlack-capped Chickadee

Many, many flowers there were being visited by many, many bumble bees.

The other places I visited while back there, with photos in my last post, were Rum Village Park and Nature Center in South Bend, IN, and Madeline Bertrand County Park in Niles, MI.

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The Top of Mount Ord

This was our third trip to Mt. Ord. The first time we drove as high as we could but did not finish hiking the road to the top. The second time, we had car problems and only drove about halfway up the mountain. This time, we drove as high as allowed, and hiked the road (almost) to the top. We did not climb the lookout tower, though. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t.

The crystal ball came along…

“Pima” Desert Orangetip

Hoverfly and “Pima” Desert Orangetip

There’s a place about halfway up the mountain, Forest Road 1688, referred to as the “saddle,” where I got 5 of 6 (technically 7) lifers! Sadly, the photos are pretty bad for most of them. It’s dark in the forest and it was cloudy anyway. Here’s what I got:

Cassin’s Finch
Painted Redstart
Evening Grosbeak
Olive Warbler
Lewis’s Woodpecker
Dusky/Hammond’s Flycatcher
Grace’s Warbler (heard only)

We met the nicest birder, Anne, at the saddle. If it were not for her, I probably would have only gotten 3 lifers that day. Still good, but 7 is better. The one that we heard only, I am not really going to count as I would rather see it. Someday…

These lifer photos are all pretty bad…the other 2 are even worse so I’m not posting them here:

Evening Grosbeaks (lifer)

Painted Redstart (lifer)

Dusky/Hammond’s Flycatcher (impossible to tell which it is but lifer either way)

Lewis’s Woodpecker (lifer)

A deer ran across the road in front of us!

Theodore Roosevelt Lake

White-breasted Nuthatch

Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Audubon’s, male

Hutton’s Vireo

Bridled Titmouse

Black-throated Gray Warbler

The top of Mount Ord

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Woods Canyon Lake

White-breasted Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatch

Tony and I were back on the beautiful Mogollon Rim one day last week, specifically at Woods Canyon Lake. We met our good buddy, Marika, there. She has been volunteer camp hosting at an Arizona State Park close to Show Low for the last 2 months and Woods Canyon was a half-way point between there and Phoenix.

Marika is an experienced birder and it’s largely because of her that I got 3 lifers this day!

Mountain Chickadee (lifer)

Red-breasted Nuthatch (lifer)

And a very bad shot:

Hermit Thrush (lifer)

The chipmunks and squirrels were decimating the pine cones. Delicious!

These guys were lifers when we were there in June:

Brown Creeper

Steller’s Jay

The last time we were at Woods Canyon, I got 3 lifers so that is a total of 6 lifers I have gotten there! Good birding.

Since it’s the month of Halloween, here’s the creepiest thing spotted that day:

Western Tent Caterpillars

The Rim Road leading to the lake has many exceptional vista points and a trail that goes right along the edge of the Rim. We stopped there on the way out and took in the always breath-taking views.

SR 260

Rock Squirrel, appreciating the view from the edge of the Rim

Also in the spirit of Halloween, the bizarrest thing spotted that day, just laying on a rock close to the edge…fun to speculate all the dark reasons why that might have been laying there…Boo!

Rockin’ the Rim:

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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

Goldwater Lake

Acorn Woodpecker, female

If you don’t live in the purple range below at an elevation over 4500 feet, maybe you’ve never seen one of these comical woodpeckers before. I hadn’t~at least not since I’ve been paying attention to birds. So I was excited to see a lot of them the other day when we went to Goldwater Lake in Prescott, AZ.

This is a granary tree, above, the main food storage “pantry” created and used by communal groups of these fascinating woodpeckers. They have a complex social system where family groups hold territories, and young woodpeckers stay with their parents for several years and help the parents raise more young. Several different individuals of each sex may breed within one family, with up to seven breeding males and three breeding females in one group (Cornell Lab). There can be up to 50,000 holes in one tree!

Acorn Woodpecker, male

This whole area was very birdy and beautiful! The dam separates the upper and lower lakes.

Western Bluebird, female

Western Bluebird, male

The Bluebirds were also lifers and the female was very accommodating. I have many shots of her. Also easy to photograph were the Juncos. I got a new subspecies, below. I also got another lifer, a Bridled Titmouse, but my photos are very blurry.

Dark-eyed Junco, Red-backed

This is actually a Prescott city park but it is part of Prescott National Forest. Nice trails.

Common Raven, snacking

Ruddy Duck, with blue bill in breeding plumage

White-breasted Nuthatch

American Robin

Mallard, drake

Great Blue Heron

Chipping Sparrow

Marine Blue Butterfly

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