Spring is in the air!

To all of our dear family & friends north of the 49th, this may seem hard to believe,  but the trees are “budding” and the birds are singing!

We stopped for 2 days in Quartzsite again to go to Cibola Wildlife Preserve – where we added a White-tailed Kite to our list!  What a gorgeous bird & one we saw & photographed many times last winter in TX!  Also added Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, though we didn’t get a photo to confirm.  It would be rare for this area, but had a great view & we played its call on the iPhone – a match!  We heard a chorus of meadowlarks singing – what a lovely sound – must be hundreds in the area.  It was such a nice day with low wind & temps around 20C.  There were Snow Geese here this time along with Ross’ & Greater White-Fronted.  Also lots of Sandhill Cranes.  Oh, they are so elegant & sound  wonderful!

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The Ranger reported that birds are starting to move – spring is in the air!  Just look at these two:

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Maybe it’s an omen because the cats settled in pretty close together the other day (which is unusual) so I photographed them with my iPhone (like my friend Sandy does!).

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That’s Sasha on the left & old, blind, Tyrian on the right.  Sometimes even grumpy old Tyrian gets “in the mood” & turns over for a tummy rub (yup, spring!).

Tyrian.

Feb. 2:  On to De Anza RV resort, located just south of Green Valley (which is south of Tucson about 45 minutes).  We needed to make a trip into a big city to do some shopping so integrated it with a visit to Saguaro National Park which is just on the west edge of town.  Just to prove we’re back in the land of the Saguaros:

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We didn’t imagine we’d see anything different than we have already, but really enjoyed the drive and a few short walks.  Came upon a pair of Curve-billed Thrashers (yes, another of those many types of thrashers!!):

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They were considering a nest site in a cholla cactus nearby & sat singing for us!  Oh and they really have a wonderful song – if anyone has the iBirdPro app on their phone, just listen and check it out!  Also saw Pyrrhuloxia,  several types of sparrows including Black-throated & Lark (2 beauties), & Gilded Flicker. Weather was great – what an enjoyable day!

Feb. 4:  After a day “in” for Bill to work & watch the Superbowl, we headed for Patagonia.  First walked the park at the lake where we again missed the trogon – but added many new birds – our favorite was a Canyon Wren, 2nd prettiest wren in NA, next to Cactus.  Then on to the town of Patagonia where we had lunch & visited the local people who have set up bird feeders which attract all types of hummingbirds – as well as others.  We saw all 3 towhees:  Aberta, Canyon & Green-tailed.  Here is the green tailed for your amusement:

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Feb. 5:  Headed up to Madera Canyon to see the Rufous-capped Warbler (only place it is seen in NA.  We saw it last year but didn’t have a camera, so Bill lugged his huge 500 lens & camera up the dam & along the stream (several crossings) – but to no avail!  We unfortunately didn’t see it but added Black-chinned Sparrows to our list.  We will go again.  It was a lovely day for a hike anyway, so we certainly enjoyed it & got lots of exercise!

Feb. 6:  Came back to Madera, but went up the right-hand road to walk the entrance area hike & added Swainson’s Thrush.  Also stopped in the townsite to a feeding station where we saw a couple of birds we thought worth showing you.  The first is a Mexican Jay – especially for Veronica (although we sent her one last yr).  We figured everyone is sick of seeing black & brown birds!

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Next is a lovely Hepatic Tanager in a green tree:

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Also saw some “turkeys in the straw”:

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Before heading home, we birded along the road & came upon a very exciting bird – a LIFER!  I have looked with longing at the picture of this bird in the bird book for years – Painted Redstart!  These 2 photos are merely a record – not anything Bill would publish on his DVD’s, but I just had to include them – a front view, showing a cherry red belly – and side view a little of the white flashes which show up even more when they fly.  Their little white under-eye half-ring make them look “bleary-eyed” (which they aren’t when you watch them flit madly about)!

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So by now everyone knows how much we love birds.  That does not, however, prevent us from eating one every now & then:

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Feb. 7:  Headed up to Mt. Lemmon – which is described as “like driving from Mexico to Canada”!  Sort of like the Palms to Pines Hwy in Calif – but we ascended to 8000 ft this time (Idyllwild is only 6000 ft).  We were assured by some ladies we saw at Madera Canyon that we would fine Yellow-eyed Juncos for sure – & we did!

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And here is a scenery shot for your enjoyment.

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On our way home, we stopped in east Tucson at the other half of the Saguaro Cactus National Park.  I have been looking for a “crested” saguaro, like my friend John saw & sure enough we found one (it was shown as “cristate saguaro” on the sign post).  To me it looks like a girl with curly hair waving “hi”!

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Other beautiful cacti live her as well:  Barrel cactus & Prickly pear.

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Feb. 8/9:  Forecast to be extremely windy – so staying in for laundry, cleaning, etc.  Also rain overnight, more wind, so 2 das “in”.  Unfortunately, the forecast is scheduled to be below zero for 4 nights in a row at -3, -3, -3, -1!!  We’re pretty close to Calgary temps – YUCK!  Oh well, we have warm clothes & once the wind dies down, the birds are still out there.

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