Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mystery Bird of Southern Arizona

Let's see how many of you can identify this Southern Arizona bird. I know what I think it is but let's see what you think. We spotted it at Molino Canyon on the road to Mt. Lemmon feeding on the ground.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Strickland's Woodpecker A.K.A. Arizona Woodpecker

We went walking on the Catalina Highway which leads to Mt Lemmon on Saturday looking for birds and checking out a couple of hiking trails. There were very few birds to be found on the trip up to about mile 14 and we were a little disappointed but the trip down the mountain was much more active. We spotted a pair of Peregrine Falcons, Red Tailed Hawk, Turkey Vulture and this Strickland's Woodpecker also known as the Arizona Woodpecker which is a resident here in S. Arizona.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Seven Cataracts- The Waterfalls

This is not the first time I have photographed these waterfalls but they are really beautiful each time. Hopefully you will enjoy seeing them as much as I enjoyed being there.

The Seven Cataracts can be found on the Catalina Highway leading to Mt. Lemmon.

Thimble Peak can be seen from the overlook.

Ever since I came to the desert I take every chance to get close to water. I come from New England where water is all around and is part of the daily routine.

I did do a little searching to see if there is a way down to the falls that is not too difficult but they all look challenging.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hiking the Jaguar Trail-Brown Canyon

Our day in Brown Canyon started here when we met up with Richard Conway, President of the board of directors of the Friends of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and several other interested folks who came to hear Richard talk about the recent history ( 200,000,000 years or so) of the surrounding mountain ranges and the Altar Valley.

This is a view of Kitt Peak taken from the road to Brown Canyon where we stopped to listen to Richard talk about intrusions and alluvial fans as well as basins and how the stable land that we see is actually on the move.

Baboquivari Peak is the most prominent feature of the landscape but Brown Canyon is our destination and the anticipation of what is up ahead is mounting.

It is easy listening to Richard to see that he has a vast knowledge of the geology of the area but you also can't help but notice that he loves this place and is dedicated to it's well being. In the above photo you can see the uniform slope of materials moving away from Baboquivari into the basin which was formed when the land dropped downward.

From this point on I will leave the explanations of the igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks and the cycle that they go through to those who are much more knowledgeable than I am and I will concentrate on the beauty that is Brown Canyon.

The Brown Canyon Environmental Education Center- The education center at Brown Canyon has a very comfortable, relaxed atmosphere in a spectacular setting. It is well equipped for overnite stays with great rooms and full bathrooms. I could spend weeks exploring the canyon and bird watching or just relaxing on the patio. Learn about the center and what it has to offer here:

The trail leading away from the center takes us deeper into the canyon where we cross streams many times as we make our way upward.

Evidence of past human activity in the canyon by people who chose to raise cattle here. There are many stone walls in some very odd places which obviously took allot of hard work, some are in places that don't make sense. There were also old cattle tanks and pipelines for transporting water when it was available. As beautiful as this place is it strikes me as a difficult place to raise livestock and to live year round.

Richard is constantly in search for new clues to the evolution of this place and still approaches it as a mystery that has yet to be completely solved.

While geology was the main purpose of the day it seemed that all who attended were happy to just be in this magnificent place. Look closely and you will see rocks within a rock!

There were several buildings along the way that represented a bygone era. All have survived recent wildfire and floods that are an inevitable part of the canyon life cycle.

There was a good flow in the stream as we moved along Jaguar Trail which was recently opened up by volunteers. Twelve inches of rain have fallen in the canyon since January. Most people travel the Arch Trail which I will hopefully do on my next visit to the canyon. It is so named for the natural arch that exists here in the canyon.

The Desert Wind Flower is a harbinger of spring when adequate water is available.

A beautiful example of quartz crystals found along the trail.

As we moved upward the vegetation closed in around us and my neck got a little sore from looking up at the massive rock walls.

Surrounded by beauty everywhere I look it occurs to me that such places exist because of the dedication of a few people like Richard who take that extra step, go that extra mile to ensure that Buenos Aires and Brown Canyon will live on for many years to come.

With so many forces working against nature and the natural world it is clear that organizations such as Friends of Buenos Aries Wildlife Refuge could use all the help they can get. Both volunteers and financial help will be required to ensure that Brown Canyon remains a place dedicated to learning and nature. You can help by contacting:

I have included several more photos that I took as we headed back to the center which I hope you will enjoy. This was a great experience for both Nancy and I and I will be mailing our membership dues to Friends of Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge immediately and I hope you will too.

Again thanks to Richard for the invite and we look forward many visits to BANWR!

At one point in the hike we stopped by the stream to talk about the jaguar that was spotted in the canyon as recently as 1990. Although the cat has passed on at 14 years old it is easy to see how large cats might be comfortable in this environment. Even though I know it is not likely that I will spot a large cat I kept my eye peeled just in case!

I hated to leave.