Friday, April 13, 2012

San Pedro House

This winter, I have been walking in the footsteps of birders....tracing down their haunts and discovering what brings thousands of birders to the state of Arizona every year.  And I think I'm underestimating the number "thousands" here.  I have grown to really appreciate the kindness of these people on my own journey.  "Thank you" for educating a naive person in the way of noticing the "little" things in life.  Because I have grown as a person this past year by taking a closer look at nature.  These birding trips have also allowed me to develop a better "bird garden" at El Presidio. And the results are showing!  Today I take you to the quiet little home next to the San Pedro River.
We drove down to the San Pedro Riparian Corridor to find the Great Blue Heron, but we'd also find a lot of other birds out there.  At first, it appears you are driving through fields of grass and more grass.  You search for trees, but there aren't any around....for miles.  Until you see the line of Cottonwood-Willow trees.....
The people were super friendly and as we drove into the gravel driveway, we noticed a lot of colorful birds right away.  We went into this volunteer based organization and got the map.  On that day, a Short Ear Owl was spotted.  Thanks to a chart outside of the office, we were able to check out what other birders had seen recently.  I knew I would find the Great Blue Heron....or was relatively sure of it. I summoned King Tuzigoot for this trip.  He asked me what I was searching for....I said, owls and a heron.  He asked me what a Heron was and I then proceeded to describe this bird to him.....(and I added, "You can't miss it.") The King then muttered something under his breathe and I asked him to repeat but he just waved me I handed over my camera to keep him happy.  He then took a picture of this dog and I reclaimed the camera. Not a Heron.
It was warm and we had water.  But we couldn't help but notice all the birds flying around the brush and grasses on the way to the river. There were a lot of Sparrows, Towhees, Pyrrhuloxias, and oh so much more....just no owls.
But we spotted several birds to add to the "list" and it was exciting to watch them do their thing. The loop trail is about 2 miles long over easy terrain.  Only the upper trails are wheelchair accessible on this public land.  There are over 82 species of mammals and 350 species of birds!!  The San Pedro is also the last of the free-flowing rivers in the Southwest.  
Abert's Towhee
Talk about a tricky bird to photograph.  Shade.  Sun.  Etc.  It would never sit still long enough for me to focus!  Out of the 3 shots below, there is really only one that I like!!  There are 12 stations on this trail and each has a story and marker to identify what it is that makes the area important.
I was also given a bird checklist which made it easier to help me identify this bird.  King Tuzigoot found the little bugger and asked me to capture the shot.  So I attempted.
It was definitely a bird that wasn't on my list but because we stopped and observed the bird's flight patterns, I was able to get a clear shot of it below in the sun.
Hutton's Vireo   Ruby Crowned Kinglet
Once we arrived at Green Kingfisher Pond, I kept my eyes open for "the Heron".  I think I asked one of those stupid questions at the front desk that day....."Will I see a Green Kingfisher?"  The volunteer looked at the other one and smiled back at me...."You might."  I got the drift, but weirder things have been known to happen.  Kingfishers, like Owls or Hawks, are some of my favorite birds to see in the wild because they are so interesting to observe.   While in Panama on Coiba Island and during a rafting expedition, I witnessed 2 or 3 different Kingfishers.  The hard part was keeping my eyes on the rapids while birding:)  One of my friends on the raft asked me how I could be birding while we were rafting.  Easy.  Watch the river and the sides of the river at the same time.  No talking:)
And then we spotted the Great Blue Heron.  With dehydration setting in, we headed back to our car satisfied by our days work.  The King enjoyed the Heron spot but he was ready to leave for home after the hike was I released him back into the sky with his spirit people.
If you love birding, you'll love this river!  Oh and I should mention, there were a lot of Phoebes around....just didn't want to take anymore pictures of them.  I already have enough.  King Tuzigoot was also fascinated by this bird.  Seriously, what is it with the Phoebe?  It is a cool bird, but does it cast a spell on birders or what?  Even the non-birders love it and they don't even know what they're looking at!!! For more on this place, click here.


  1. I love the San Pedro area. The first time I saw it was in 1985 at a family reunion in Sierra Vista. The very first time I saw the region, it was one of those places I could easily move to and fit in.

    Lovely photos.

    BTW, there is a bird out there when I used to visit the family that had a rather loud sharp two burst whistle that sounded much like a human whistle. It was always during the monsoon season when we visited. I never heard it if I was there in winter. Do you know what kind of bird that is ? It was always in the Mesquite trees there in Sierra Vista at the family home just off South Route 92 and across the road opposite the Ramsey Canyon turn off.

    If I remember correctly, it was a large dull gray brown bird and looked very much like our own native in Anza's mtns called Western Thrasher, but I'm not sure if this was a Thrasher as the Thrashers on my property sang almost identical to a common Mockingbird.

    Just curious, Kevin

  2. You are so lucky you live in a place where diligence pays, to buy good lenses, LOL. We have a few birds which seemingly loved to visit and linger in a part of our property which is not cleaned, and become like a mini forest.It attracted many birds and i don't tell anybody about it because they might flock around and possibly drive the birds out. Unfortunately, this dry season the adjacent property cut and burned the vegetation in their land, so it exposed our mini forest and our little oasis for the birds might be in danger. I think the birds are scared as well. I am so sorry for them, but rest assured we will not cut the trees in that area because they are ours and theirs. I hope when i miraculously get a birding lens they are still there.

    We have 2 kingfishers there, orioles, lesser coucals, a rare white coucal lives there too. I am so gifted for seeing that rare form of lesser coucal, coz only very few birders here already saw that white one!

  3. Very nice serie photo's Chris..... lots of nice birds and the lovely Blue Heron.

    Greetings, Joop

  4. Are you sure the Hutton's Vitreous isn't a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet? Was it very tiny? The crest is usually very hard to see unless the bird raises it.

    Waterways are the best place to bird no matter where you live! So much to see especially during spring migration.

    1. Thank you for catching this! I don't remember a color on the head, but it was smaller and very flighty going from tree to tree. It's funny because I've seen the Ruby Crown at one point but not on this bird. I didn't know there were two birds so similiar like this. I checked online and both birds are found in this area which makes it even more confusing....and they are confused often. This is very helpful info to know for down the road.

  5. I really enjoyed this trek and all it had to offer. The heron was well worth it all. So magestic and beautiful!

  6. Gorgeous photos Chris - sounds like a really brilliant place for birding!

  7. you were kind to King T to release him after his birding assistance. :)

  8. Love all the bird photos today. Here along Lake Michigan the annual migratory flights have been passing through for a good month now. Thousands and thousands of birds moving by. It is awesome to say the least. So many birds. There are birds one can not find even a mile inland from this shore. They hug the shore all the way into Canada. Inspiring. Jack

  9. Chris, I always enjoy your photos and comments. You always make me smile. Have a great weekend!

  10. You obviously had an enjoyable visit Chris. I could feel the heat coming from it ;-) much too hot for me though, I'm sure. So glad you got to see the heron, I loved the last photo with the reflection.

  11. I'm glad you have somewhere this nice close to you. I need to try and get shots of some of the little birds (what I call "pippy" birds)in my backyard and have you help me identify them. I might even throw in a Phoebe or two. :)

  12. It's such a pleasure to see water birds when living in the desert.

    I don't really consider myself a true "birder" but do own several bird books with notes.

    Great captures of the heron.

  13. I really enjoyed this post Chris. For my money, it looks more like a Ruby-Crowned than a Hutton's Vireo, but the best way to tell is from the call, if your heard it. This bird here has the short, straight beak, but the Hutton's has a little bit of a downward curve on its bill.

  14. Thank you Laurence and Sweetbay both! I started thinking about this more and remember seeing another bird with a pink patch on its head, but I couldn't get this guy as he was too far out from my camera. I think you are both right. These are tricky birds to identify....and not to confuse, but a Chestnut Sided Warbler has some similiarities from above and I began to again doubt myself:)

  15. Great shots, i admire your passion for wild life, it's brilliant!

  16. Wow---what a neat place to go for some great birding... I love my Backyard Birds---but seldom take time to hike in a birding area... We're still too involved with finding waterfalls. AH---wish I had more time in my life!!!!! ha

    Great photos.
    Have a good weekend.

  17. Great series, and your search for the heron was rewarded; great heron shots.

  18. Lovely, lovely collection of bird photos! The grass glowing gold adds more special feel. I’d like to go to the river in person with “bento” (a box lunch) and of course with my camera to spend the whole day.


  19. Great post.
    Love the Great Blue Heron shots.


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