Monday, November 30, 2009

Sun and Rain and Sun Again

I was greeted at the beginning of Catalina Highway by this Red Tailed Hawk who seemed intent upon some snack that was just below in hiding.
I was able to approach very close and get a great look because it was so intent on whatever it was hunting. I guess it decided that I wasn't a threat and a meal was more important.
As you can see the sky is clear and it's sunny although it was quite cool around 50 degrees.
Started to see clouds early on but nothing that looked like it would produce rain.
I stopped at Molino Basin as there is usually a few birds hanging around and I wasn't disappointed. First I saw two Ruby Crowned Kinglets but did not get pictures. I also saw Bay Breasted Flycatchers, and cactus wrens.
The Arizona Trail was across the roadway and I decided to hike a couple of miles out the trail to see what it was all about. Now it's getting colder and cloudier. Even with a good jacket I had to keep moving to keep warm. You can learn more about the Arizona Trail here:

The trail was easy at the beginning but I took a turn into a rock filled wash because I wanted to see where it went and get a little exercise climbing over the rocks.

Then the weather changed! Thunder and sprinkles sent me headed back down the trail to the warm car. I headed up the mountain to see what it was like above me and it rained very hard for quite a while.
I made it up as far as the Seven Cataracts and watched the rain.
Before I left the clearing started to roll in and the rain ceased.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

I decided to take a walk before eating a big Thanksgiving meal so I headed off to the Desert Museum. I always take my camera and today I would be especially glad I did.
Normally the cougars are asleep or you can only spot one of them but today they were both out and about. These are beautiful animals that can be found in the wild here in southern Arizona.

I wanted to check out the new female bear but the only sign of life in her enclosure was this Black Phoebe and a Swainson's Thrush.
This deer was very curious and spent as much time watching me as I did watching it.
The highlight of the walk was the Bobcats that were both out and about which was the first time I had seen them together.
They were very active,playful and affectionate with each other. It was a great experience and something I never expected to see.

This female American Kestrel was on display along one of the paths I walked and I stopped to say hello and talk to the docent about the small hawk.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

To The Mountain and Back

It takes me about an hour to walk to the base of Golden Gate Mountain. It's a nice walk in Tucson Mountain Park. This picture is about 30 minutes from the house looking back the way I came.
Approaching the base of the mountain.
The detail is incredible as you get up close to the mountain. It was extremely quiet with very little wildlife evident and no one else on the trail either coming or going. We had a very dry summer as the monsoons never really did much so the desert is dry,dry ,dry.
My house is in the center grouping of houses which is where I started out to give you an idea of the distance to the base of Golden Gate.

It was 45 degrees when I started out and I needed a coat, an hour and half later I'm down to a tee shirt. It warms up quickly and will be a really nice day around 75 or so with no shortage of sunshine.

I sent this picture to the Tucson Audubon Society to see if they could identify it for me as I'm not sure what it is. I thought maybe a Gray Vireo but I'm not really good with desert birds yet.

Bison Belong Yellowstone National Park

Here is a link to the National Parks and Conservation Associations position on the Yellowstone Bison. I urge all of you to read this and to support the work of the NPCA through donations and joining their action network. These folks do excellent work protecting the national parks and they need our support.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yellowstone Bison and Wolves

When I hear that another Yellowstone buffalo has been sent to slaughter for trying to survive I ask myself this simple question. Why? The answer always seems to somehow end up on the Montana cattle industries doorstep.
America and Americans love the Yellowstone buffalo and expect that the National Park Service and the State of Montana to protect and defend them and to insure their survival for future generations. Nowhere in the National Park Services mission does it say it is OK to haze or kill the buffalo to save a few cattle. The National Park Service needs to return it's primary focus to making sure that all of the creatures in their care are protected from harm.
Cattle interests have also been involved in trying to eliminate the gray wolf as well. Science tells us to restore the major predators to the environment and the whole ecology will improve and become revitalized. This has been proven in Yellowstone and still there are people who would undo the good that has been done by reintroducing the wolves to the national park.
The cattle industry wants to eliminate the last remaining wild bison herd and the Gray Wolf to protect a few cows and to keep it's control over public lands. Other areas of the country have learned to coexist with the gray wolf. Montana cattle industry should concentrate on becoming a good neighbor to both the Gray Wolf and the Bison. It is not ok to kill these beautiful animals as they belong to me and all other Americans.
Please stand up for the Yellowstone Buffalo and the the Gray Wolves by taking action. Several organizations that need your support are listed on this site to help you make a difference. Please do whatever you can to stop these senseless killings.

Ray Goodwin

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pima Canyon and Pusch Ridge Wilderness

I decided to see what was at the end of Magee Road and was delighted to find Pima Canyon Trailhead. While very pretty Fountain Grass is an invasive species here in the Sonoran Desert.

I didn't have to hike far to get this view as the path moves steadily upward.

Further up the trail you can get an idea of the expansiveness of the valley. The haze that hangs over the city is only visible from a distance. When your in the city it seems relatively clear.

The sun is just getting high enough to strike the top of the peak. It was about 55 degrees while I was hiking until the sun was up .

There are many saguaros in the area where I was walking. A short distance into the trip there was a sign posted that designated the area ahead as wilderness. I was out there for over two hours and never saw another soul. It was very quiet and rejuvinating. I wasn't able to go as far as I wanted to on this trip because I was not prepared for more than a mile or two into the desert without proper supplies and someone knowing where I was hiking. Even at this time of year the desert can be extremely unforgiving if you are not prepared. I will return and try to get into the back country at some point.

There are some very impressive rock faces that are absolutely beautiful in the morning sun. The Pusch Ridge Wilderness area consists of 56,933 acres and starts at 3000 ft and rises to 9000 ft above sea level.

I came across this great crestate saguaro cactus on the trail. I have only seen half a dozen of these in the last five years of exploring the surrounding area which makes them pretty rare specimens.

There were a few rabbits like this one and a variety of birds including phainepepla, cactus wrens, gold finches, and thrashers.

Teddy Bear Cholla

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Queen Butterfly

The Queen is a Sonoran Desert resident, one of three milkweed butterflies. Looking allot like a Monarch it is a darker brown. More information on the Queen can be found here:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Personal Heroes

My Personal Heroes is a new addition to Sonoran Connection that gives me a chance to pay respects to people who have shown an extraordinary commitment to wildlife and the environment. It will be an informal way of saying thanks to folks who have consistently given of their time and talents.
The first person I would like to honor is Sarah Goodwin Nguyen  for her work in wildlife rescue in Key West, Florida. Sarah has been involved with Key West Wildlife Rescue as a rescuer, rehabber, operations manager and volunteer. Sarah has given countless hours caring for,feeding,treating and rescuing all manner of birds and animals around Key West. In all my many years I have never met another individual with a bigger heart or more generous spirit when it comes to injured, abused or abandoned animals.
I am especially happy to make Sarah my first Personal Hero as she is my one and only daughter and the work that she does with wildlife makes me and her mother enormously proud of her.

Buffalo Field Campaign News

A coalition of conservation groups that includes the Buffalo Field Campaign, as well as native americans, and Montanan's has filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service to end it's role in the slaughter of Yellowstone National Park's wild bison. The suit contends that the park service is not fulfilling it's mission to preserve the wild buffalo and" leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations". Complete information on the suit can be accessed here:

For those of you who are just becoming aware of this issue it is truly a heartbreaking story of mismanagement and cruel treatment of one of America's true icons, the Yellowstone Buffalo herd, by the people who are charged with their care and protection. I have followed the Buffalo Field Campaign for years and I am extremely impressed with their tenacious pursuit of justice and peace for the last wild bison in America. Thousands of buffalo have been slaughtered and hazed and treated horribly by the National Park Service and the cattle interests in Montana. Because of the tragedy of over 3000 wild bison slaughtered and now the assault on the Gray Wolf I have personally removed beef from my diet. I am convinced that the cattle industries desire to control public lands for grazing is the root cause of the destruction of both the Yellowstone Bison and Gray Wolves.
Please take a look at Buffalo Field Campaign and give as generously as you can to help stop this senseless slaughter.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sonoran Rainbow

We had a surprise rain this afternoon and I raced out to see if I could get a picture. It was a real treat to be able to see an entire rainbow.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Mexican Gray Wolf

This is a web site that took a look at Sonoran Connection and I was very impressed with their site especially the professional quality of the presentation and the informed content. The site is a great overview of the state of the gray wolf in America. I thought that those of you that check in here from time to time would like to check it out.