We drove to Calgary and flew to Tucson via San Francisco. We were happy to leave the snow behind. Here’s a view from the airplane of the Steeples and Mt. Fisher with Cranbrook behind them.
The ridge behind our place was as pretty as ever.
And we had some beautiful welcoming sunsets.
The hummingbirds came back almost as soon as the feeders were filled. This is a female Anna’s.
The weather wasn’t too hot to hike, so we ventured out. We hiked to the top of Wasson Peak, the highest one in Saguaro National Park (Tucson Mountain Division). Here’s a view of Wendy near the summit. Our trailer is somewhere on the flats below (above her head in the photo.)
Here’s Doug with a view of the Avra Valley behind him.
Another day we returned to Tubac. We went birding in the morning and we were unable to locate a Rose-throated becard. But we enjoyed the birding and saw lots of interesting birds. We came to listen to a talk, “Return of the Rose-throated becard” that was scheduled for the afternoon. We had time to have lunch in Tubac and see a little of the Mexican-feeling town.
All this wall art was for sale. Some pieces were ceramic, others were made of metal.
It was very windy that night and it was still windy in the morning. By 10:30, it seemed to die down a bit so we headed out for a hike. We drove to the trailhead for Picture Rocks wash in about ten minutes. It was a pleasant hour and a half hiking through the wash, past the “picture rocks” (petroglyphs), and finishing the loop on a desert trail.
Doug visited the Pima Air and Space Museum on two different days. (Wendy did quilting related stuff: once to a Quilt festival/market and another day to a sewing day at a local quilt shop.)
The Pima Air and Space Museum had several hangars displaying WW2 vintage aircraft that Doug really enjoyed. He grew up reading about them and making models. Quite a zing to see the real thing!
The Spitfire was nice to see up close and so much bigger than the model Doug built when he was 12. His current favourite military aircraft is the A10 Warthog which happen to pass over our fifth wheel on a regular basis.
We had a late start one day because we had planned to ride our bikes, but one of the tires on Doug’s bike had a rip in the sidewall. So after taking the wheel to the bike shop, we headed to Reid Park for a little birding.
We chose Reid Park because a rare bird, a Ruddy ground-dove had been seen there over the last week or so. We didn’t see the dove, but we did see another rare bird, a Greater pewee. Doug got a photo of it that is good enough for identification but too small to include here.
Reid Park is in the middle of the city, with a zoo, rose gardens, two ponds, lawns etc. Alongside the ducks that enjoy being fed crusts, there are some interesting birds. This one is a juvenile Black-crowned night heron.
Here’s another Black-crowned night heron (who’s a bit older, but still immature) standing near a yawning Neotropic cormorant. The bird behind is an American wigeon just taking off.
We don’t often see Northern shovelers when they aren’t in breeding plumage. It’s bill gave it away.
And it’s always a pleasure to see a Vermilion flycatcher.
So the next day, with the bikes all ready to go, we rode about 18 km on a paved multi-use trail along the Santa Cruz River in Marana. In the photo below, we’re close to the most northerly end of the trail near the El Rio Open Space Preserve. The flowers are flowing over the fence of the garden of a high-end home.
Another day we hiked up and along Brown Mountain, which is in Tucson Mountain Park. We can drive to the trailhead in about 20 minutes. Here is Wendy at the beginning of the uphill section: a nice trail with switchbacks and not too far to climb.
Here’s a view looking northeast towards Wasson Peak, the highest one on the skyline.
Once we got to the top of Brown Mountain, we walked along it’s ridge and worked our way gradually down. We got a good view of the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum grounds. (Doug turned around for the photo.)
There were some magnificent saguaros along the trail.
We were watching out to try and find the smallest saguaro, and this one was probably the littlest we could find. It was about 20 cm tall and perhaps five to ten years old. Although we didn’t see very many small ones, once the saguaro becomes established, it can grow to be very old. The first branches of the saguaro develop when the cactus is fifty years old.
Here’s our final photo for this blog, a male Black-tailed gnatcatcher. We saw at least a dozen of them along the trail. They especially liked foraging in the Palo verde bushes.
You can look forward to more bird photos in our next blog.
One thought on “Back to Tucson”
Love the Vermillion fly catcher.