Friday, November 12, 2010

Tucson - Part 2

Our 80 mile return drive to Desert Trails RV didn't take long. The park, still pretty empty for the time of year, allowed us to get our former site back. Our stay this time would span a two-week period. The first week we planned to catch up with a few things we had wanted to do during our previous week-long stay but had missed. The second week we would leave our RV at the park while we flew back to WI to visit family and friends.
We wasted no time on our first morning trying for more birds. Apparently while we were away in Sierra Vista, heavy rain storms had moved through the Tucson area. Florida Wash, dry during our last visit, now had standing water that attracted lots of birds, among them a Gray Flycatcher. Of the thirty-four possible tyrant flycatchers we could possibly see in the lower forty-eight states this year, we now had seen thirty. Of the four remaining, two occur rarely in the U.S. and the ranges of the other two do not include the southwest or Texas. Our chances to add any more flycatchers in the ABA area this year are pretty slim.
We had seen Lucy's Warblers earlier in the year but found by far the best looks of this western warbler along the trail to the Whitehouse Picnic Area which snaked along Madera Creek (the creek was still flush with water). But it was the Berylline Hummingbird we sought further up the road at Kubo Bed and Breakfast, usually a reliable place to find one. Reliable, that is, for other birders but not us. Once again we missed finding one. The reality that we may not see this species this year and come up short on our goal to see all seventeen hummingbird species (we currently had fifteen of the seventeen) started to sink in. We drowned our sorrow with lunch in Green Valley at Rigoberto's, a small hole-in-the-wall cafe. Nothing fancy but great Mexican fare in gigantic proportions for very little money.

Catalina Highway

Carol spent the next day with her friend Nancy. It was THE shopping day to find an outfit for Tom's upcoming high school reunion. That would be an outfit for Carol, not Tom. Late in the day Tom was finally included when we all met at Brooklyn's pizzeria. Located on Tucson's historic 4th Avenue, parking was tight and the streets narrow. A jam-packed Friday night crowd made for a lengthy wait but pizza is, after all, one of Tom's favorite food groups. He - we - were not disappointed. If you think birding is our passion, you should by now realize that food ranks right up there too.

relaxing with Nancy at Nancy's home

Saturday found us again in company with Nancy at her home in Oro Valley in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. During our previous stay in Tucson Nancy had wanted us to meet her guitarist friend, Troy Gray who occasionally played at the El Charro restaurant on North Oracle Avenue.  Troy wasn't scheduled to play until this week so off to El Charro's we went.

Troy Gray

Troy was seated outside in the garden/bar/plaza. Listening to his nuevo flamenco style as we walked up reminded us of a favorite guitarist, Jesse Cook. For the next three hours we were regaled with Troy's music and during music breaks, his charming conversation. Turns out he and Jesse Cook are in fact good friends. We left with an autographed CD. Troy's music is available for download on iTunes - look for "Troy Gray", the name of the album.

Saguaro N.P.

Sunday we revisited the lower section of Mount Lemmon. Birdy, but nothing new. On Monday we struck out for nearby Saguaro National Park where we targeted the Gilded Flicker. It's listed as "commonly found". After searching extensively, we'd say "commonly found" was a bit of a stretch but nonetheless we eventually found some. This brought us to having seen twenty-one of the twenty-three woodpecker species that were possible in the U.S. We missed Nuttal's on the west coast; Red-cockaded would still be possible in Texas but not without a lengthy drive up the Texas coast.
The other hummingbird we lacked was a Costa's. Now that it was getting late in the year, hummingbird-wise in Arizona, our last opportunity to find one would most likely be at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, just up the road from our RV park.
The museum is an excellent introduction to anyone finding themselves in the desert southwest for the first time. With almost two miles of trails in twenty-one acres of Sonoran Desert, the museum weaves together a zoo comprised of interpretive displays alive with animals in natural settings , a natural history museum, and a botanical garden. It took a bit of scouring but we unearthed a Costa's Hummingbird. Sixteen down with one to go. Fat chance.

passion flower

Faced with packing for our flight to Wisconsin, Monday wound up to be our last day out and about birding. On Tuesday we focused on laundry and prepping the RV for the time it would be stored. On Wednesday morning we drove to the Tucson airport, parked our truck in long term parking and took a shuttle to the terminal. Next up: Appleton!

Spiny-tailed Iguana (about 16 inches long)

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