Sunday, January 9, 2011

Catalina State Park Tucson Arizona

 We arrived at Catalina State Park which is located just north of Tucson at around 10 A.M. on Saturday morning. There are always people there but it is not crowded due to the number and length of the different trails. As you can see it was a beautiful sunny Arizona day which lately have been few and far between. We chose the Nature Trail because it is an easy looping trail that has some great views and we had not hiked this particular section of the park yet.

 The trail turned out to be a really easy walk that would be suitable for young families or the elderly and we enjoyed a slow hike around stopping many times to enjoy the magnificent mountain views.


We came across this Roadrunner which is usually very quick to exit when humans are around but this one seemed not to mind our presence although it did keep a pretty good eye on us. When a couple of runners came by it scooted across my feet and disappeared into the desert. Read more about the Greater Roadrunner here:

Roadrunners are a classic example of camouflage in nature. If it weren't for it's quick movements as it searches for food you would probably not even notice it.

We headed out the Sutherland Trail which runs along the wash and has a few more birds including Rock Wren, Gila Woodpecker, White Crowned Sparrows, Ruby crowned Kinglets, Aberts Towhee as well as a Stricklands Woodpecker and Chihuahuan Raven.

 Catalina has some truly magnificent examples of Saguaro Cactus and it is a very unique experience to walk through a Saguaro forest.

When most folks think of the desert they think of a lack of water and although water is scarce as you can see it is not non existent. This stream is running due to snow melt run off from the Catalina's which still has snow caps from recent snow storms.

 Parts of the wash are dry indicating that at times there is lots more water running off the Catalina's perhaps during the summer monsoons which can be quite heavy at times.

 Part way up the trail there is a set of stairs that lift you to a second plateau. This is as far as we went on this trip but there is plenty more trail ahead. Perhaps another day.

This is a picture of Nan doing a little bird watching that I included so you can get an idea of the size of the Saguaro. Pretty impressive up close as this one reaches about 25 feet tall.

A relatively new Saguaro which frequently get their start in the shade of other plants which allows them time to get accustomed to the intense sunlight here in Southern Arizona.

 I included this photo because I have noticed that coyotes almost always do their business in the road or on a path or on a rock. I don't think I have every seen actually seen any in the sand. I assume it's because so many plants are thorny and it's just plain safer!

Just a note to express our sadness at the shooting of Congresswomen Gabriel Giffords here in Tucson and all of the other victims as we hiked the park yesterday. This kind of violence against our government and the people of the United States has no place in a free society. Our hearts go out to the families of those who perished and also to those families whose loved ones were senselessly harmed. We wish the injured a speedy recovery and will keep them in our thoughts.

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