Tuesday, July 28, 2015

SE Arizona Mountains - Chiricahuas & Huachucas

We arrived at Portal, the entrance to Cave Creek Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains on July 15th.  Although we have been here many times before, it has never been in summer.

On the climb into the mountains we saw Bendire's Thrasher, Cactus Wren, Botteri's and Cassin's Sparrows, Blue Grosbeaks and the Swainson's Hawk nest and family.
Hooded Oriole

We stopped at feeders open to birders and watched Hooded Orioles, Verdin, Canyon Towhees, Blue-throated, Rufous, Broad-billed, Broad-tailed and Magnificent Hummingbirds, also the rare Plain-capped Starthroat wandering in from south of the border.
Canyon Towhee

Blue-throated Hummingbird

We camped at Sunny Flats forest campground and our sought after target  bird, the Montezuma Quail flew through our campsite and landed nearby.  Ty pursued the pair and got some excellent looks and photos.

We walked at dusk and heard Elf Owl, Northern Pygmy Owl, Whiskered and Western Screech Owls, and Mexican Spotted Owls.

There were thunderstorms and flash flood warnings so the forest service closed the campground for 4 days.  We moved down to Rusty's RV on the New Mexico border.  Before we left Sunny Flats, we returned to pick up the hummingbird feeder and our camping slip.  Just as we were having lunch a 5 1/2 foot Western Diamondback Rattlesnake crawls out on the road.  Ty calls - "quick, my camera" and heads over to check it out!

The flash floods didn't materialize but they were taking precautions as a hurricane went through last September and caused tremendous damage and trapped campers for 3 days with no way out. We walked the closed damaged South Fork road and heard an Elegant Trogon, seeing Dusky-capped and Brown-crested Flycatchers, and finding more Sulfur-bellied Flycatchers than we have ever seen before.
Sulfur-bellied Flycatcher

We also found insects like this Glorious Jewel Scarab Beetle and many Butterflies.  Arizona (formerly Strickland's), Acorn and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, and Mexican Jays filled the air with their chattering.
Red Satyr

On a drive to the research station we found more Montezuma Quail, and a quick glimpse of the tiny Buff-breasted Flycatcher.  Javelina with young darted across the road in front of the RV.

By Monday, they reopened the campground and we moved back in.  The only occupants for two nights.  We visited feeders again and had this beautiful Lazuli Bunting join the Blue Grosbeaks, Gambel's Quail, and others.
Bronzed Cowbird

Lucy's Warblers foraged nearby as Hummingbirds swarmed the nectar feeders.

We drove and walked to the primitive Herb Martyr campground and found a King Snake (red & black - friend of Jack) and a very tiny Short-horned Lizard (horned-toad).
Gila Woodpecker

We stopped at the San Pedro House, a nature conservancy area near Sierra Vista; we walked the riparian area by the river,  the only green trees for miles in the Chihuahuan Desert.  We added Gila Woodpecker, Gilded Flicker, Gray and Zone-tailed Hawks, and Abert's Towhees.  There were lots of Blue Grosbeaks, Summer Tanagers, Vermillion Flycatchers, Lesser Goldfinch and Yellow-breasted Chats in this oasis.
Magnificent Hummingbird

Settled into Quail Ridge RV Park north of the Huachuca Mountains and each day we birded the canyons along the east side of the range.

We spent time at Ash Canyon and found this beautiful Magnificent Hummingbird along with Black-headed Grosbeaks, Scott's Orioles and many more.

We then drove up Miller Canyon Road that reminded us of Costa Rica with the narrow, rocky steep switchbacks.  The B&B had a great hummingbird feeder set up and we got a life bird - the White-eared Hummingbird from Mexico and Central America.
White-eared Hummingbird

Ty walked up Miller Canyon Trail and found these really cute baby Mexican Spotted Owls.

Flame Skimmer

We drove to the Coronado National Memorial on the Mexican border and added a retirement bird - the Varied Bunting - a little too far away for a photo.

We drove to two other crossings of the San Pedro River and walked trails at Conservancy Areas.  We drove through Tombstone, but didn't partake in the "old west" festivities by the O K Corral.

On Sunday we attended New Hope Fellowship church in Sierra Vista and drove up to Ramsey Canyon RV Park for two nights.  We walked to the Conservancy area as the parking does not accommodate our RV.  Spent the afternoon walking trails and watching hummingbird feeders.  New hummer - Violet-Crowned.
Yellow-eyed Junco

Ty walked back at dusk to join a group listening for night birds.  He added the Mexican Whip-poor-will, and heard again the Norther Pygmy, Whiskered & Western Screech-Owls and Elf Owls.

We spent all day at Ramsey Canyon, Ty walked miles up the steep trails to pursue high altitude birds while I relaxed at the Hummingbird feeders, even had a outdoor rocking chair.  He heard several Elegant Trogons that stayed out of sight.  He heard an ocelot, also not seen, but he did see a good variety of birds.
Hepatic Tanager

Arizona Sister

Enjoying Arizona, and like the rest of the country plenty warm.

Best Regards to all.
Love & Prayers,
Ty & Ida Baumann

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Western New Mexico

For the last ten days we have been zig-zagging south in Western New Mexico.  Beautiful red rock formations surrounding us through the Navajo Nation.  Wild flowers blanketed the roadsides like this Indian Blanket with a green bee on it.

The Pinyon Jay was one of our target birds and their locations are very unpredictable.  We went through the small village of Bluewater and heard a ruckus of many jays calling.  We followed a flock of maybe 20 birds and of course that led us to a feeder.  Fun to find this hard to find bird.

We drove through the El Malpais National Monument with square miles of ancient lava flows, amazing sandstone rock formations and this natural arch.
Cholla in bloom

We stayed at a Gila Forest Campground near Quamado Lake.  The host's feeder was swarming with birds: Black-chinned, Broad-tailed, Rufous, and something different; a Calliope Hummingbird (on the right, notice the streaked feathers and how small he is).
Stink Beetle doing a defensive headstand

We spent several hours on the auto tour of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.  Being summer, much of the water was drained, but a few ponds did have Western Grebe, Cinnamon Teal and Mexican Ducks.  It was great seeing so many Yellow-breasted Chats, Blue Grosbeaks, and Vermillion Flycatchers.  This male is really trying to impress the female.

We drove south to Elephant Butte Lake State Park and found a whole new desert habitat.  Gambel's Quail were everywhere including three families of just hatched chicks.

This is the first area we encountered White-winged Doves, Pyrrhuloxia, Cactus Wren, Greater Roadrunners, Verdin's, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers and Crissal Thrashers.

On the lake were Clark's Grebes and a Long-billed Curlew.
Bullock's Oriole family

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Black-tailed Jack-rabbit

Many desert cottontails were around and this very large Black-tailed Jackrabbit.
Desert Willow Blossom 

Sunrise at Elephant Butte Lake

We then drove west toward Silver City stopping at Iron Creek National Forest Campground.  After waiting out a downpour, the birds began to sing.  We found Painted Redstarts and the sought after Red-faced Warbler.  We also found this Golden-banded Skipper that is only found in this small area of SW New Mexico and SE Arizona.
Painted Redstart

Red-faced Warbler

After a day of catching up on laundry, charging up batteries and cleaning at the Silver City RV Park, we drove north along the scenic byway to Gila Hot Springs.  On the way we added Acorn Woodpeckers and Hutton's Vireos.

While exploring the campground, Ty found this beautiful Anchor Bug.

Early next morning we drove to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.  As we started up the trail, I took a break on one of the benches.  I heard a splash in the creek and then growling.  I decided fast I needed to move away quickly.  Ty saw something move up a tree.  It turned out to be a Bobcat kitten, mom and another kitten moved away up the creek.  This baby started crying and didn't know what to do.  We moved away hoping mom would come quickly back to get him down.

These ancient ruins were some of the best cliff dwellings we have seen.  very well preserved.  There were several petroglyphs on the walls depicting animals and people.
Red-tailed Hawk makes a landing

As we traveled south along the Mimbres River Valley we encountered a pair of Common Black-Hawks.

Blue Grosbeak

We are staying at the Little Vineyard RV Park in Deming tonight before heading to Southeast Arizona tomorrow.

On the road again,
Love & Prayers,
Ida & Ty Baumann