Friday, April 24, 2009

Scary, Scary Road to the Sky

We made the trip to the San Pedro river valley because it has several really good places to see really good birds. It's in all of the guides (Lori bought the Tuscon Audubon Society's "Finding Birds in Southeast Arizona" and I bought the ABA's "A Birder's Guide to Southeastern Arizona") so we went. We knew it would take 2 hours just to get to our first stop, so we were up and out of the house 5:00 AM.

Our first stop was the San Pedro River House which is run by a local non profit. It has trails through open country down to the river. We saw tons of sparrows which we couldn't identify. I took photos so we could cheat with the Sibley Guide later. I never saw so many warblers in my life. I bet we saw 100 Wilson's Warblers flitting around - at eye level, on the ground, in the trees, practically on our heads. No kidding.

Then we drove to Carr Canyon. To say it's a "road" would be stretching it a little. More like a gravel mule path up the side of a really steep canyon. Really steep. Lori drove, Connie sat shotgun, I drove from the backseat, and Tara closed her eyes the whole time. It really was the scariest road any of us have ever been on. Vehicles of more than 20 feet length are prohibited. I think the Suburban would not have made it - definitely not the Bounder (although there is a wonderful campground at the top). All I could think about was Lucy and Desi in the Long, Long Trailer. HA.

We drove 3,000 feet up that road to see high elevation birds such as Olive Warbler (didn't see it), Greater Pewee (didn't see it), Band-tailed Pigeon (saw it), and Grace's Warbler (saw it). We also saw an older couple from New Zealand who were really lovely, a great picnic area at the campground, and restrooms along with Spotted Towhee.

The New Zealanders told us that we should really stop at "The Beatty's" which is also mentioned in all of the guides as THE place to see hummingbirds in the U.S., so down, down, down we went. I drove this time and was forbidden from looking at anything other than the road in front of me. It was treacherous and I had to pass by 3 cars going up. Luckily 2 of them pulled over for me. The other jerk is another story.

The Beatty's run a bed and breakfast for birders up in Miller Canyon. Not a bad drive. We met Mrs. Beatty and paid the $5 each entrance fee to sit at the hummingbird feeders. It was really great to be sitting in the shade with 7 different species of hummers buzzing all around us. The Beatty's is one of the few places in the U.S. to see White-eared Hummingbird and we saw it. We also saw Blue-throated, Anna's, Black-chinned, Broad-billed, Broad-tailed, and Magnificent hummingbirds. Connie saw a Calliope's Hummingbird while the rest of us chased a report of a Spotted Owl. That's another blog in itself.

Anyway, it was a really long day but it was one that we will definitely remember for a loooong time to come.
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