Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cienaga Creek Preserve

Today I make my way across the desert to a "permit only" preserve known as Cienaga Creek.  However, I’m not sure many of the people had oneJ  I drove 30 minutes east of Tucson and found myself in the middle of nowhere.  PS.  Sorry about the font size today.  Blogger switched over to the new interface several weeks ago when this post was written and I was forced to copy and paste for the blog from Microsoft word which I was not happy about. It wasn't until Jeanne from In Search Of recommended me to use Google Chrome.  I am now able to write normally again.  I am in the far away remote city of Portal this weekend searching for bear, coati and whatever amazing bird comes my way. I'll be back again soon with more exciting news to report.  The thrill of journeys and let's get started with Cienega(See-en-ah-gah).

I was alone.  The trains came at me from all directions.  The road was lonely and I felt like I was in a completely strange new world.  Another birding hotspot where you can (and probably will) get your feet wet.  The trains though were a bit unsettling and unique at the same time. The operators have some beautiful views from their tracks!

I crossed a bridge and the cool wind almost blew my hat into the running creek below!  And I looked at how far down the creek was…..and saw a biology class in session.  Sweet!  Now how do I get my butt down there?  A random person came along and told me to follow the dirt path near the bridge.

Green lush vegetation surrounded me including lots of beautiful wildflowers!

I had a feeling that I wouldn’t spot many birds on this very windy day, but I did love all the varied vegetation habitat going on.  You start at desert landscape and work your way down into the Arizona Cottonwood Canopy…..a whole world in itself!

But I had to keep my eyes open for trains as I crossed the tracks.

I finally made it down into the creek and a woman with her dog called out in her thick accented voice, “I see you made it down to the creek!”  Indeed I had…..and there were other birders and wildlife enthusiasts as well .
So I wasn’t alone after all!!!  And there was a comfort knowing that there were others there because the barren desert road was well.....deserted.  Where did they all park?
Due to the day being fairly windy, it was difficult to spot a bird in the canopy of the trees.  However, I did spy swallow nests under the bridgesJ
Cienagas Creek was amazing.  Next time I go, I’ll wear water shoes on the hike to enjoy the cool running water.
From Tucson on eastbound I-10, exit 281 (Sonoita/Patagonia), turn left to cross I-10 to Marsh Station Road. From westbound I-10, exit 281, loop exit to Marsh Station Road. Travel northeast on Marsh Station Road approximately 3 miles and watch for the Gabe Zimmerman Davidson Canyon Trailhead sign on the right. After parking, walk through the gate and go left (northeast) on the trail. At "Y" go right and follow trial down to creek.
I did see a Phoebe under a tree near the creek.
And a Black Throated Sparrow.
The Gabe Zimmerman Davidson Canyon Trailhead parking lot provides access to the Cienega Creek Natural Preserve and Davidson Canyon. This is a 10-car lot. The trailhead is located just off Marsh Station Road. Note: A permit is required to access the preserve. Open dawn to dusk. Details: 520-877-6000 (Pima County). Call (520) 877-6158 for permit information. These permits are free.
Three Bridges or the second parking lot is 0.3 miles farther up on Marsh Station Road, on the left side and just before railroad tracks. Parking is allowed on front portion of lot. Do not go under tressel (railroad property). Road to third lot is right across Marsh Station Road from second lot and holds approximately 5 cars. Note: these two lots are recommended for viewing and photographing trains only. NRPR cautions against crossing railroad tracks to enter preserve.
For a bird checklist click here.
There was a lot to see, but it was getting hot.  So, it was a sign that I needed to head back to the car. Bring bug spray!
On my way back to the car, I found this scruffy little guy with a prickly pear fruit in his mouth.  More tomorrow from this Cienagas series….
Don’t worryJ  He made it across the road safely. More adventures tomorrow with Kathie!


  1. Ah it looks so warm there. I now have my heater on, house slippers with heavy socks which I hate and my winter heavy coat on inside my house. I hate cold.

    I see what you mean about the font. I switched sometime back fro Mozilla Firefox to Chrome because something happened way back a couple of months ago and I could no longer watch any videos properly. Now everything is fine. Who knows what's up with that.

    Beautiful pics and place. Wish I were there. Cienaga Creek is a funny name since both names deal with water. Kinda like Spring Creek.

  2. To była kolejna wspaniała wycieczka. Dziękuję za możliwość zobaczenia kwiatów, ptaków, motyli i faceta. po drugiej stronie ulicy. Pozdrawiam.
    It was another great trip. Thank you for the opportunity to see the flowers, birds, butterflies and a guy. across the street. Yours.

  3. Looks like an interesting place to go birding. I would be worried about crossing the bridge with trains coming. You are brave. The scenery is gorgeous! Great shots!

  4. What a beautiful place to go looking for wildlife. I felt as though I was on the walk with you :)

  5. It's very nice have made lovely pictures Chris.

    Greetings, Joop

  6. I like how you tune in with nature. Sometimes we need to be far from the madding crowd to recharge our spirits.

  7. great park!
    I love such secure natural areas...

    Have a great day!

    xoxo, Juliana

  8. Very nice Chris. It is cold with a heavy frost here this morning.

  9. the squirrel made me laugh. must have been hot running on that road, though. :)

  10. I love the train photo, in a few decades those old trains will be obsolete. I won't miss the speed, but they do have a classic look.

  11. By the way, the towhee with the crest was amazing in the last post, and I had no idea we had breadfruit here! That's wonderful! Love this amazing place you share in this post! Thanks so much for the info on getting there. Gotta check it out! Oh, and thank you SO much for your info on Miller and Ramsey Canyons, and an invite to go together. Would love it! Gotta get this knee well!

  12. Interesting trip and thanks for the Google Chrome tip, Blogger has been acting up.

    You always manage to find birds to watch even on a slow day. The squirrel is interesting, I had always thought the deer were getting my prickly pears and only recently realized it might be the squirrels.

  13. Thanks for "showing" us this wonderful place. Love the cacti, trains, and wildlife.

  14. So I assume you found the real parking lot later. This looks like an awesome place to go.

    May be time to switch to Wordpress?

  15. (depending how much the font irritates you, you can go from compose mode to HTML and delete the bits where it says 'font tiny' or 'font large'. Sometimes there's just too much HTML and Blogger has a quiet tantrum. Sometimes it's just a passing bl**dy bug)

  16. Wow... What a beautiful place. Because of you I can enjoy it without the bugs.

  17. Did you find your hat??? Neat place, for sure!

  18. Well done Chris! I need to go back here! Great story and pics!


Thanks for stopping by!