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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Mount Ord

See that little camouflaged cutie singing his heart out?

It’s my most recent lifer, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, which we saw on Mt. Ord.

Mt. Ord is the highest point in Maricopa County, the huge county in which Phoenix is located. It is 7,129 feet tall and is located off the Beeline Highway on the way to Payson. It is accessible by Forest Road 626. There are communication towers and a ranger station up there. So we drove my poor Ford Fusion up this 6 mile long, bumpy, rutted, narrow, winding dirt road, with no guardrails (and back down). It was do-able but a 4WD would have certainly been preferable and would be the only way I would do it in the future. But it was worth it because it was beautiful up there.

There are a ton of birds up there, and many that would be lifers for me, if we had found them…the only other “lifer” I found was this Dark-eyed Junco, Gray-headed variant. Technically, it is not a lifer as I’ve seen Dark-eyed Juncos before, but since I’m trying to hit 60 lifers in 2017, I’m counting variants, too.

A few views from the top:

Beeline Highway (SR 87)

Bartlett Lake

Theodore Roosevelt Lake

There was a fire on Mt. Ord last September, burning 1335 acres, so there are many burned trees.

You can park 1/2 mile from the top of Mt. Ord and then take this trail the rest of the way to the top.

There are other hiking trails on the mountain, as well as an old mine (we didn’t see it).

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay

Black-throated Gray Warbler

In my Facebook birding group (Birding–Arizona and the Southwest), another member and her husband went the day before Tony and I did. She was posting several birds that I didn’t see and I mentioned that to her. She said, “Oh, we had a guide.” So…next time, I want a 4WD with someone else driving and a guide!

Here’s a short Arizona Highways article about Mt. Ord.

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