As a single thundercloud moved over the valley I happened to go out onto my balcony and saw this! I quickly grabbed my camera and started snapping. The sky looked as if it were on aflame with the color pink! It was brief, but breathtaking while it lasted. This is just one of the perks of being back in Tucson!
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
On Friday, September 14 I awoke to a beautifully cool and sunny morning. It was such a relief after the heat and humidity from the monsoon. As I sat out on my balcony drinking tea and watching birds, I was thinking I would like to go for a hike somewhere, but I was stuck at home. The moving company was sending someone to come pick up my empty boxes between 10 and noon. I had to stay and wait. As I sat there sipping my tea, my son texted me asking if I wanted to go for a hike. It was an invitation I couldn’t resist, so I suggest we go to Saguaro National Park, which is nearby, and we could hike the Freeman Homestead Trail. I knew it was a short hike and we could probably go and get back before the movers arrived. So, I threw all my gear together and we were on the road within 20 minutes!
Saguaro National Park consists of two units divided by the city of Tucson. The Tucson Mountain Unit sits on the west side of the city and is the first place I ever visited in Tucson over 5 years ago. While the eastern Rincon Unit is larger in land area, it is also the least visited. My son had never been to the eastern unit of Saguaro National Park. While there is a very nice 7 mile loop road you can drive with pullouts and side trails, we chose to take the right-hand turn where we headed for the Freeman Homestead Trail. The Freeman Homestead Trail is a short hike down into a desert wash where the Freeman Family homesteaded years before this was ever a National Park. It is an easy hike with a good chance of seeing a wide variety of desert birds. We had barely started our hike when a turkey vulture dipped its wings in greeting!
I scanned the holes on this packed clay cliff knowing that I had seen a great-horned owl here years before. I did not see the owl, until we were down in the wash. Then it flushed from its hiding place and landed farther up the embankment in a tree.
The sun was directly behind the cliff making looking for it quite difficult. GW finally found it for me and I snapped a few shots off, trying to adjust my settings for the shady light. Though we were far down the slope it felt we got too close and flew off again. I let it be and we hiked on. We did the hike in less than an hour and were soon back on the road again…
As we drove up in front of our house the movers pulled in behind us, a half hour early! Good thing we came back when we did! But I was glad of the quick escape and the early morning hike in the cool desert!
Birds seen in Saguaro National Park Rincon Unit 9-14-12:
- Gambel’s Quail
- Turkey Vulture
- Great Horned Owl
- Gila Woodpecker
- Purple Martin
- Cliff Swallow
- Cactus wren
- Curve-billed Thrasher
- House Finch
- Lesser Goldfinch
Monday, September 24, 2012
- turkey vulture
- Gila Woodpecker
- Bell’s vireo
- Bewick’s Wren
- Curve-billed Thrasher
- Green-tailed Towhee
- Abert’s Towhee
- Brewer’s Sparrow
- Great-tailed Grackle
- House Finch
- Lesser Goldfinch
Sunday, September 23, 2012
I have been here in Tucson for almost a month now and I am still settling in. Since I have put out my hummingbird feeders and nyjer seed feeders I am getting some regular bird visitors in my yard with a few surprises thrown in. I don’t think I will get the same variety of hummingbirds here in town that I use to get out in Sycamore Canyon but I have had more of a variety than I thought I would. Since it is hummingbird migration I am seeing young birds that are more difficult to identify but I am doing my best. By far the most regular hummingbird species I am seeing is Anna's, which is really what I expected here in town.
I think she raised two chicks who have fully fledged now, though they are still using the nest. I will have to knock it down soon as the patio is getting covered in droppings which I have to hose off every day. They are big enough to survive on their own and its best they move on, but it’s been fun watching them.
The birds were even more surprised when this Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk landed in my backyard!
But I was sad to return from errands one day and find my ballerina broken on the ground! I was so happy to set her up and hang the hummingbird feeder off her hand again. I have had her since the early 2000’s and she has lived in 7 houses with me! I haven’t decided what to do with her yet. I am keeping all her piece parts for now.
But the birding continues. Yesterday I saw my first Broad-billed hummingbird in the yard. I have also gone out on a couple of other birding adventures, one of which ended with more excitement than I planned. You can see the complete list of yard birds in the side bar, and come back tomorrow to read about my further adventures in birding since moving back to Tucson!
Thursday, September 20, 2012
On our last day of driving when we were so weary we were awakened early by my cats jumping on the our beds. They kept jumping on us and crying and we could not figure out why. They had not done this on the whole trip. They started about 4 o’clock in the morning, jumping and meowing and running around. I got up to use the restroom and the kitties followed me in there, but whatever they were trying to tell me, I just did not get it. I called them onto my bed and tried to cuddle them and calm them down, but they remained restless. Finally, about 6:30 a.m. Kathryn got up and noticed that their water bowl was empty! It was so hot and dry in this part of Texas that Blossom and the cats had drunk all the water we had put out for them the night before! As soon as Kathryn refilled the bowl they ran over and drank and drank! Then they settled down peacefully on my bed. The cats were trying so hard to communicate with us. We were the ones who were dumb! But, by now it was too late to really go back to sleep, so Kathryn and I just got up and got dressed. We soon loaded the car and headed out for our last day of driving.
As we followed the open road the final miles fell behind us. I do not remember much of how I was feeling, other than tired. Once again, I felt the finality of it all. I was moving back to Tucson for good and leaving the rest of my family behind. I wanted to be excited, but instead I felt sad. When I saw a desert willow at the Fabens Rest Area I knew I was back in the desert. Then a female Broad-tailed hummingbird flew in for a sip from one of the pale pink blossoms and I smiled. It was my first Texas hummingbird and I knew there would be more waiting for me in Tucson. Only in Tucson do we get winter hummingbirds!
We did not stop to bird today. We just kept driving, though we did count birds at one spot where we stopped to get gas and found a few Western Flycatchers sitting on the fence behind the station. They were so close to us but I was so tired by now I didn’t even bother to get out my camera! Sorry!
I was driving at this point and Kathryn was taking pictures out the window. Monsoon clouds hovered overhead but sunlight was streaming through like a golden benediction on the road before us.
We were finally home.
- From Andover to Tucson (all posts)