Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Hourglass

Kristen captures a Tucson sunset at Saguaro National Park
Even though final exams finished, I knew I wasn't done.  As I signed off at work, my biggest  challenge was about to begin. 5 visitors in 5 days!

Blue Grosbeak
My friend Kristen was staying at our place for a rest before heading to Los Angeles.  While she drove to Tucson, I met up with another friend, Pam, at Saguaro National Park.  

Saguaro National Park
Eventually, everyone found each other and we chased sunsets.

Antelope Jackrabbit
As we said our hello's and good-bye's, I was off to help other visiting friends find Arizona's amazing owls. Day 2 began. 

White-winged Doves on a Saguaro Cactus
I met with Khanh and Walker in Madera Canyon before sunset.  There, we owled for several hours. 

Elf Owl
These two guys were completely enamored by our beautiful owls. I don't blame them.  They are pretty amazing. Sometimes they forgot where they stepped and took a spill.  After the second time watching Khanh take a fall and stabbing himself with a cactus needle, I was concerned. It would have sucked to twist an ankle on the first night! Lots of blood was shed that day:)  I forget how tricky our terrain can be for visitors. Plus owling in the darkness is challenging. 

Whiskered Screech-Owl

After successfully finding Whiskered Screech-Owls, Elf Owls and Flammulated Owls, I went home for a several hour sleep.  The next day was even more challenging!  Lots of hiking!  When people come to Arizona, they want to see everything!  Living here allows me to focus on places and absorb.  Now if I were traveling here as a visitor, I'd have to pick and choose which birds I'd want to see.  Florida, you know I'm talking about you:)

Northern Goshawk
Anytime, we are on the trails, we HOPE to get satisfying views of our target birds (but sometimes they don't always play nice).  Khanh wanted Montezuma Quail and Elegant Trogons.  He got them both but it wasn't easy.  For me, it was challenging because the Montezuma Quail are VERY elusive.  Many times birders stumble on them by accident.  Now I had to intentionally find them.  I know how to do it, but they don't often cooperate for photographers.  I taught Khanh about their habitat. He was able to hear the birds call AND eventually, he was able to see them.  

And while searching for the quail, we discovered nesting Northern Goshawks!  These photos above are a first for Las Aventuras.  This accipter species is EXTREMELY difficult to capture on camera.  We had to play a game to get the shot. In the morning, we had accidentally flushed the bird from a tree.  It was quick to disappear and went almost undetected. But my ears honed in on a moving branch. Khanh quickly spotted the bird as I pointed to the area where the noise was made. 

Khanh at the infamous "Split Rock" searching for a Spotted Owl in Miller Canyon
Secretive in nature and known as "Gray Ghosts", they are fast operatives in montane forest.  Anyhow, we left the area and returned back in the afternoon to see if the bird returned to his original spot.  He did.  And for a few brief moments he didn't notice us from across the creek watching.  What a pretty spectacular sighting!

My weekend would continue and by Sunday I was really needing my rest.  Then Monday would come and I would meet up with a wonderful lady by the name of Bonnie from Wales.  We had a great time as we discovered a Wood Duck, several rare Tucson Inca Doves, and a wonderful look at a Wilson's Warbler.  She also was able to observe the Mexican subspecies of Mallards nesting in our park while I also helped her get two lifers, the Vermilion Flycatcher and Lucy's Warbler. She had great views of both! 

My week ended and I was exhausted.  What an amazing time out with some wonderful people!  Southern Arizona is one of the most beautiful places on this planet.  Its' harsh conditions and epic landscapes make it a "must see".  Time is often a factor when planning a trip here.  If you can't fit it all in, there's always another trip:)  Until next time......


  1. WOW! You must be exhausted after all those visitors although I love when i have them also and to show them birding and Ireland.

  2. What a wonderful few days but I bet you were exhausted after! Great photos and I just love the owls and well done on the Goshawk :) Your friends must have a superb time due to all your skills :)

  3. Thanks for sharing your adventures. Still loving those owls!!!


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