Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Mogollon Rim

Hello everyone! Today we visit the lovely Heber-Overgaard area along the beautiful Mogollon Rim. Over the past week, I've gone on several treks with Gordon to do a dry run before our big Mexico trip!  As of this write, we are both very excited about discovering new birds again. When we come back, I'm sure we'll have lots of stories to share. 

Canyon Creek Road
We weren't chasing any birds on this weekend as we just wanted to bird.  It was wonderful finding all the wildflowers growing around the area. In fact, I found myself looking at the plants and bugs more on this trek.  

Wildflowers, top to bottom and left to right
Wild Sunflower, Bristly Pricklypoppy, Indian Paintbrush
Wild Rose, Purple-fringe, Heartleaf Arnica
Both of us had several places in mind that we had wanted to check out.  We stopped at Black Canyon and Wood's Canyon Lake for some fun finds.  On our return trip back, we made a stop at the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery.  It turned out to be my favorite spot to explore. I had wanted to check for possible American Dippers but it's really not the correct time for them to be there in this location. This was more of a scouting trek. However it is winter habitat for the Dipper!  So I'll be making a trek up again. 

We had some great finds at Wood's Canyon Lake where there were nesting Bald Eagles!  Two juveniles were seen standing on the nest and that was great news!  While we were there, we watched both the Eagles and Ospreys grab fish from the lake.

Wood's Canyon Lake-best place to bird even with a billion vacationers 
We even watched a Great Blue Heron grab a fish in flight.  Gordon has the pics for that action set.  It was a pretty awesome observation and a first time that we've both seen that kind of behavior from this bird.  

Western terrestrial garter snake
My snake detector went off when I saw a head swinging back and forth.  It seems this Arizona subspecies of the Garter Snake was looking for food.  Gordon was very excited about the find and shared it with the girls playing in the water below.  I watched them freeze and had a good laugh.  "This one is safe. Snakes are cool.", Gordon said happily.  My response was, "Yeah, but they're still snakes:)"  I have learned to appreciate them from a distance, but you won't catch me picking one up anytime soon.  Still.  It was a great find on an already awesome birding trek. 

I'm sure many of you were asking by this point in the blog where the photos of my birds were:)  Don't worry, I've got one for you.  At Wood's Lake, we discovered lots of recently fledged Steller's Jays hanging out around a pine tree. The adults were feeding them while they were getting a sip from the puddles in the rocks.

Anyhow, my focus was a bit scattered on this trip.  Therefore the pics were a little "off".  The heat was still intense at the higher levels on this weekend and made for an impatient me.  At the time of this write, June 30th, a woman was killed by a lightning strike along the Rim.  If you do visit during our monsoon season, whether you're local or visiting, please make sure you're safe.  If you see lightning or major dark cloud build up in Arizona, get inside a secure building.  Our storms here are NO joke. 

A happy Gordon along the Rim and a random butt shot behind:) It's a popular place!
However take a look at the amazing views from the Rim!  The Mogollon Rim is an important geographical feature for Arizona....especially southern Arizona.  During our monsoon season, storms will build along the Rim and blow south into Tucson and surrounding areas giving us much needed rain. It's also a place for many Phoenix residents to escape their personal hell. Phoenix is eternally hot. Recently on a trek outside of Phoenix, it was 94 degrees at 3:30 in the morning!!!  In Tucson, it gets down into the 60's at that time! You may spy an innocent and peaceful Tucsonan up there, but if you hear loud people who like to drive dangerously, they are from the Phoenix area;) As birders, we always know that any form of exercise away from tourist hotspots like piers, restaurants or shopping centers will always get us away from crazy.  So overall, it was a beautiful and quiet weekend until we drove the highways back.  I'd like to say that Tucsonans are better, but I don't think I can:) Anyhow, here's a little fun bird bit for bird and Nightjar lovers!

On a chase to find a rare male Painted Bunting, a young talented birder by the name of Walker found something very sacred at the Tres Ríos Wetlands near Phoenix.  Here is a rare look at a Lesser Nighthawk nest.  Can you see the two eggs?

Okay.  Let's move closer.  These birds are notorious for blending in with their backgrounds.  So anyone who is daring enough to explore the desert in summer, keep your eyes open while you're walking.  At first glance, the desert looks like it is a lifeless region but I assure you that it's full of incredible things. Just remember.  Go early and drink PLENTY of water!  Also have a cell phone on your being.  Watch out for snakes in the shade and if you see lightning, find cover!  

As for the bird responsible for these two eggs?  Here's a pic below from a trek I took a couple years ago to the Salton Sea.  I found a couple of these birds camouflaged on a mesquite tree limb.  Anyhow, they are VERY cool birds!

Las Aventuras takes a turn for the tropical as we head down to Southern Mexico to find our world's 10,000 birds. Join us as we explore Chiapas, Mexico for Chapter Two of the "Americano" Saga. Until next time friends.......


  1. Looks like a great place to bird - have a good trip.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  2. I can't wait to get back to Arizona! Even if I will be living among all those crazy people in Phoenix!

  3. This bird is gorgeous thanks to its colors. Greetings.

  4. Beautiful flowers, views, birds, awady, but I do not like snakes. Greetings.

  5. Wonderful post Chris - great photos and beautiful landscape. Love all the wildflowers and insects not to mention the birds :) You do have some great adventures and visit such brilliant wildlife sights.Enjoy your trip!

  6. Good to see you enjoy ALL of nature not just the birds. Have a wonderful birding adventure in Mexico!

  7. Ah...the Mogollon Rim! I need to come back and see it again! Nice shot of Gordon...and the jay!

  8. I am ready to explore with you...Have a nice time in Mexico.

    1. One day we may get to bird France! I'd love to explore with you around your area. Imagine what birds we'd find! Until then, I gotta budget:)

  9. Hi Chris, Wow, very cool seeing the Nighthawk and the eggs! Beautiful flowers and I love the Jay too. Looks like an awesome place to hike and see the birds. Happy Birding!

  10. Oh this was always a 'favorite' area for Bud and me when we lived in Tucson!!! [I never tired of pronouncing it the name of the 'Rim'.] Awesome images, great narration...and yes, "It's STILL a snake." I so agree there...wait 'til this weekend, when I post my newest Birding Post on I'd Rather B Birdin''ll knock your socks off!!

    Excellent post...and the Stellar Jay is gorgeous.

  11. Super looking Jay and also like that Garter snake.

  12. We spent several winters in Tucson and therefore consider ourselves as honorary citizens )) loved the area ... Thanks for the beautiful flowers, wonderful birds , magical nest, and for the sweet memories! And Bon Voyage! Look forward

  13. really enjoyable post -- and so cool to see the nighthawk eggs! best of luck on your trip!

  14. Great place to trek. Nature at its best.

  15. Lovely post with lots of interesting points of interest and the images were such a treat~

  16. I like to see when it's not always about the chase, there's just so much to see. But even if it's a harmless snake I'm not touching it.

  17. I liked all your photos, particularly the fledged Steller's Jays!
    Have a Wonderful Day!
    Peace :)

  18. Your wildflowers are beautiful! And I love the Stellar's Jay...oh that find of the Nightjar eggs was amazing! I looked at the first photo, and all I saw were rocks! Who would think their eggs would lie on the ground unprotected like that. I love that the fellow birder located them and you got some great photos. I went over to Gordon's blogpost and enjoyed it and commented. Thanks for the link. We are still way below rain levels but I hope that changes soon.


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