Sunday, February 5, 2017

As Broad As It's Long

Every weekend brings a new challenge.  The question is, "What bird will it be?"

Water flows in every wash around Southern Arizona
This weekend, Gordon attempted to help friend Joe find his nemesis bird, the Elegant Trogon. I joined up with them to see if we could do the impossible. Several weeks ago I posted our finds at Patagonia Lake.  Unfortunately, we were not able to relocate the male this time.  Our theory is that the bird is now in a more remote area around the lake away from the birding trail. 

a rare Winter Wren at Patagonia Lake
So we headed to the remote Florida Canyon of the Santa Rita mountains.  There had been a female Trogon recently reported....but we missed the window.  Trogons can be very tricky.  They are active in the morning and later take a siesta somewhere in the deep shadows during the afternoon. 

A Black-capped Gnatcatcher-a bird people from all over the US come to find
 While most of the country is still freezing, Arizona is enjoying warmer than average temps.  On our day out, the temps went from a cold 32 degrees in the morning to a warm 80 by mid afternoon.  While that sounds nice for most people, I'm not most people. I get enough heat from our summer months to last me the year. It would be nice to have a longer and cooler winter this year:)

The beautiful and remote Florida Canyon
In the photo above, you'll see the space between the riparian corridor and desert scrub.  It's a natural border that can attract two different groups of birds.  Those from the desert and those who require trees and water. 

An Orange-crowned Warbler
 As the day progressed, I switched from my pants to shorts. I did the same with my shoes but forgot that my "shorts" shoes didn't have any grips on them!

The moon over Florida Canyon
 The snow melt from the mountains has every wash flowing right now in the Santa Rita mountains. It's really quite beautiful. 

the Inca Dove of the Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon
 Normally, the streams flow with a slow and steady trickle. But not on this day! We crossed several ice cold streams balancing ourselves on the rocks while trying to keep our equipment dry from the splashing water.  I did well for the most part until a rock gave out from under my foot......and then it was SPLUNK!  

the dam at Florida is flowing
We hiked up the canyon wall, or at least Gordon and Joe did.  I hiked up the steep trail realizing after the fact that I didn't have any grips on my shoes!  So I naturally let them go ahead of me.  Me on the other hand?  Well I slowly inched my way down.....until I slipped and fell on my padded rear! This was also the same place that my friend Kathie almost fell.  So if you go to Florida Canyon, home of the rare Rufous-capped Warblers and Black-capped Gnatcatchers, bring lots of water, good hiking shoes and a friend.  It's remote!

Wild Turkey(the tom)
 I continued on my own the following day looking for a rare Brown Thrasher.  I did find the bird but it's a skulker and these were the looks I had of it(below).  This is birding.  Sometimes you have incredible views and sometimes you have views like the ones below or worse!

a skulky Brown Thrasher
As I was attempting rare bird number 2, I ran into a group of Javelina blocking me on the trail.  One of them made the attack posture and I said, "That's ok."  I slowly headed back to my car and called it a day.  Laundry needed to get done. 

Javelina stop me in my tracks.
There are so many choices right now in the state of Arizona that a birder has to pick and choose their battles.  Watch the incredible flight of the wintering Sandhill Cranes at Wilcox Lake or find a rare Sprague's Pipit in the ag fields of the Santa Cruz Flats.  So many choices.  So many birds.

Bridled Titmouse
 Arizona is a big place.  Where will our adventures take us next week?  Until next time.....


  1. What a beautiful area to explore - great photos of some super birds :)

  2. I saw your wild pig on Facebook... YIPES.... That would scare me to death! They can be SO dangerous... We had a problem last winter around here --when the wild pigs invaded some of the golf courses and tore up the grounds/greens... They had some huge traps out to catch some of them...

    But--I love seeing your birdies... Thank Goodness they can FLY and get away from those nasty HOGS....


  3. Très belle série, jolies proximité ;-)
    Céline & Philippe

  4. Arizona....ahhh. The natural beauty can't be beat. I hear ya about the summer heat; wanting a longer winter. Here in South Texas we are getting mid 80s right now.

    Love the bridled titmouse. I have not seen one.

  5. I enjoyed your story and your beautiful pictures..That wild pig would surely make me turn around as well.Have a good rest of your week..The weather here is crazy...60 today...6-8 inches of snow tonight..It won't last long..the ground isn't frozen and temps re to be above freezing til tomorrow PM...That's a good thing..

  6. Wonderful bird watching experience. You spotted so many of them.

  7. I enjoyed that walk with you Chris. Arizona does seem to have a wonderful variety of species to find. Some interesting birds with the gnatcatcher a star. The javelina sounds most interesting and I'm thinking the name has quite a lot to do with those spikes. Need to google it, I think.

  8. I hope it's cooled down a bit for you. We've thankfully got a cool change here after 2 36C days.

  9. Thank you for leaving a comment on my Coventry, England, photoblog. Enjoying your photographs. I'm loved seeing your Wren. We have them here and now I know what it is I have been taking pictures of. Thanks.

  10. very beautiful place to spend your days. Love the little Winter wren. We have a similar one and I love when I see it.

  11. Chris I really enjoy visiting the desert with you -- and the contrast between our warm spot in the US and yours is quite amazing. Loved the great pictures, but also it does my amateur heart good to see you admit that a professional like you doesn't always "get" the bird. (I miss all the time and even when I don't miss, of course my pictures aren't as good. But you give me hope and encouragement.

    Arizona is really great for birding because of all its different bio areas ... really cool to be right on the border like this.

    I'm sure I'd have broken my neck if I'd tried this walk without decent shoes (and maybe even with them.) Thanks for taking me places where I can't go -- due to distance and/or general decrepitude.)

    1. Hi Sallie! So glad you stop by and enjoy our treks out. The desert is really nice right now. It happens to all of us.....sometimes I have a winning streak and other times....not so much:) Pictures are a means to tell a story. They don't need to be perfect. They just need to tell the story:) If you are ever in Tucson, please let me know. It would be a lot of fun showing around the Old Pueblo:) Enjoy the rest of your week! Chris

  12. Great shots, Chris! Sorry you missed the Trogon though. Wow, 80 degrees! It's going to top out this week here at 50 tomorrow. But a LOT better than teens and 20s!!! Or 0! I was so ready for these changes in our life. We were snowed in for two weeks once and a week 1/2 later, and that was hard, but supposedly that wasn't normal for here (there was higher than knee deep snow!) but now the snow is slowly melting. We will get more, but it will likely be 2 to 4 inches at a time.


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