Saturday, January 30, 2010

Arivaca Cieniga and Arivaca Lake

We took a ride out to Arivaca to check out the Cieniga and came across this doe who seemed as interested in us as we were in her.
My first step onto the boardwalk surprised this Great Blue before I noticed it but it didn't fly far and we were able to get a good look a little later in the walk. Learn About Great Blue Herons here:
Recent rains here in southern Arizona have helped to replenish the water supplies at the Cieniga which I hope will bring many more birds to this amazing place.
The Great Blue found a quiet spot and settled in.
Hawks are a pretty good bet but this guy has not allowed us to get too close before heading out across the marsh.
We took a short walk along the creek but soon realized that there was not so much as a peep. Quiet, quiet, quiet and cloudy made for a dreary walk and we decided to turn around and go check out Arivaca Lake.
The trees along the creek are amazing especially the Cottonwoods.
It's about seven miles from the center of Arivaca to the lake. The last 2 1/2 miles are down an unpaved road through some very scenic territory.
The lake is small as lakes go but very nice. We did see a Northern Harrier but it took off in the other direction so there are no pics to share.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Golden Eagles

We went back to Box Canyon today to photograph the waterfall again and do a little bird watching. I had my normal lens on the camera and the camera on the tripod when a Golden Eagle flew right in front of me. UGH! I couldn't get the camera off the tripod and the telephoto lens on the camera fast enough to get the shot. We saw the pair of eagles a few different times but not up close so this is the best shot I could get. Learn more about Golden Eagles here:

Canyon Towhee

This is a Canyon Towhee which used to be known as a Brown Towhee. The Brown Towhee was divided into the Canyon and California Towhees. More Information on the Canyon Towhee can be found here:

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Winter in Madera and Box Canyons

We headed out to Madera Canyon to see how much water the recent rains had deposited in the canyon stream and do a little bird watching. As we approached the canyon on Whitehouse Road we could see that the snow had come down quite low on the mountain sides which meant that we might not be allowed up the road. Fortunately the vistas are spectacular from the road into the canyon and the snow capped mountains really made for some beautiful views.

The Santa Rita Mountains are breath taking at any time of year but they really stand out with snow on them.
As I expected we could not get very far up the road into the canyon but fortunately I could still get some great shots from where we could go.
The return of water to the canyon is a good harbinger for spring flowers and birds. The last time we went bird watching there we saw fewer birds than you would expect due to a lack of seeds and water. Most birds had traveled to where there was more food available.
As you can imagine it was fairly cold with a wind blowing and the sun hidden by the clouds most of the time.
I have come to love the adventure that comes with exploring new places and revisiting special places like Madera Canyon which is considered the third best birding sight in the United States with over 256 species of birds identified here. Check out friends of Madera canyon here:

We decided to head down and try the Box Canyon road which travels about 15 miles through the Coronado National Forest.

Box Canyon was a new side trip for us and we could tell from the start that it was going to be exciting.
A beautiful waterfall encountered on the road. The road is winding and narrow and at times it travels along sheer drop offs but in general it was pretty good and we had no trouble navigating it all the way to Rt 83. There were many rock slides along the way.

I love Sycamore trees any time of year. So stately and the color of the bark is quite beautiful.
It was nice to be in the snow once again after 6 years. There were families all along this road enjoying the snow and making snow men, there was even some folks having a picnic.

My favorite picture of the trip.

This was on the way down Route 83 as we headed for home. The views along this route are magnificent.

Things You Don't Expect to See in the Desert

Here are a few shots that I took this morning after a few days of rain here in the valley. This is the Santa Cruz Wash that flows from Mexico northward.

Above 3500 feet the result was quite different but also quite beautiful.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Vermilion Flycatcher

Immature Male
These are Vermilion Flycatchers which are year round residents here in southern Arizona. I have yet to see an adult male which is a brilliant red and should be the easiest one to spot.
As it is in most cases in the bird world the female is not nearly as colorful as the male but is still quite beautiful in her own right.