“The Wave”: Feb. 2, 2022

“The Wave”: Feb. 2, 2022

The Wave is a premier photographic destination in the US southwest. It is so popular that is requires a permit issued by lottery, limiting the number of visitors that are allowed per day. We obtained ours on-line from the US Bureau of Land Management after being unsuccessful over a dozen times. So we were really happy to get a chance to go. Although “The Wave” is in northern Arizona, it is accessed through Utah. It is only one of many interesting rock features in the North Coyote Buttes, but it is the most famous.

February 2 was clear and cold (-6 degrees C) for the start of our ten kilometre (6 mile) round trip hike. The route has the same start as the Wire Pass trail that we have hiked a number of times. Here’s the spot that it leaves the wash.

Soon we were in the sunshine on the slickrock. There is no trail, but the route is defined in some places by signs like this one.

We chose to wear our hiking shoes because they have good grip on the rock.

We wondered how this juniper tree could survive.

Or these cacti.

Soon we were at the sand dunes, where the route descends from the rock. Wendy was attempting to find areas where the sand wasn’t as deep. We both ended up in the same place.

The rock that we just came down is in the background. Next, we followed the tracks up a cone of sand.

Soon we were back on rock.

After bypassing a bit of ice, we worked our way up. Soon we turned a corner and we were at “The Wave.” There was still quite a bit of shadow when we got there around 10:00.

We walked up the ridged sandstone and took a photo looking back. A water drainage carved the two main chutes eons ago, so now the wind continues the erosion.

The colours of this toadstool just above “The Wave” were amazing.

We had our snack huddled out of the wind and looked at other formations while we waited for the main area to become sunlit.

We returned to “The Wave” to have another look, and then stalled around a little longer, because there were people below. This photo has a cool effect, with the appearance of a “ghost” photographer.

We had plenty of time, so we could wait. The people below us give a sense of the scale of the place.

When they reached our level, it was time for more photos.

So we asked the nice guy to take our photo too. Although it was sunny, it was also windy and cold.

It was hard to keep the shadows out of the photos, so Doug took one including them.

Soon the spot was empty, so we took more photos! Different angles, different light, different cameras … And we also tried to soak up the beauty.

We walked down through “The Wave” to get this view.

We continued down and turned left into the cleft that is in shadow in the photo below.

We explored the area and walked about another five hundred metres until we came to a drop. We had a good look at the canyon below.

When we circled back, we also climbed up and along, which gave us this view of the toadstools. The one to the right of centre is the colourful toadstool that was in a previous photo.

In this view from higher up, “The Wave” is on the left side.

So when we returned again the light was slightly different and we were at a different angle so of course we took more photos.

More posing.

It was about 11:30 when we did our final walk down “The Wave.”

The photo below is the view that Wendy is capturing on her camera in the above photo.

And this was our final look at “The Wave” as we headed back.

Within a half an hour, we were down, through the sand dunes and up again on the slick rock. Here’s a view of “The Teepees,” some interesting rock formations that we could see from the route.

Our hike back to the trailhead was full of interesting scenery.

About a half hour from the trailhead we finally found a place to have lunch that was not too windy. We made it back to the truck around 2:00. It had only warmed up to 2 degrees C! Hot showers in our hotel in Page were next on our list.

We hope you have enjoyed our virtual tour of “The Wave.” It was a once in a lifetime experience for us.

Birding in SE Arizona: January 2022

Birding in SE Arizona: January 2022

We’ve seen more birds this January in Arizona than any other year. Some of it was luck, some of it was because we went out more often, and some was because we did our research and went to places that special birds had been seen.

The first photos are actually from the last day in December at Christopher Columbus Park. We’ve shared many photos of Silverbell Lake, but here’s another one from a different angle.

This time we were searching for a Scarlet Tanager. We spotted the female after another birder directed us to the grove of trees where it was last seen. Once Doug got his camera on it, that was the sign to the others that we’d seen it and soon there was a group catching glimpses of the bird.

The female Scarlet Tanager isn’t scarlet, it’s yellowish. It is distinguished from the more common Summer Tanager by the dark wings. Unfortunately, by the next day, she had decided to fly to somewhere new, and couldn’t be relocated.

On January 1st, we went to Sweetwater Wetlands to try to see a Rusty Blackbird. Lots of other birders were wanting to see it as well. In the winter, Rusty Blackbirds are found in the eastern US. In the summer, we might see one near where we live in BC, but we never have.

We were lucky enough to get a good view of it perched on a stalk, before it disappeared into the reeds. This bird, however, has hung around, so in February we’ll try to see it again.

We visited the Green Valley Wastewater Reclamation Facility to see a Dunlin, a shorebird that spends its summers in the arctic and its winters on the coast. There were two that had stopped for awhile in their migration. They were along the shore of this pond. The scope was required to be able to tell them apart from all the other shorebirds gathered at the shallow water. The facility has several ponds, some with more water, and some that were dry depending on the schedule. Not the most natural setting, but in Arizona and most places in the world, birds will gather at any water.

On the first Friday in January, our friends from Cranbrook joined us at Whitewater Draw, a major Sandhill Crane roost about two hours southeast of Tucson.

While we were waiting for the Sandhill Cranes to come back from feeding on the fields in the north, a flock of about 120 Snow Geese circled the pond, before landing back in almost the same spot on the far shore of the pond.

We saw these two Sandhill Cranes earlier in the day. They were some of the last to leave their overnight roosting spot.

The biggest flocks arrived around 11:30. A photo can’t capture the huge numbers or the constant movement. We estimated there were ten thousand Sandhill Cranes, but there could have been double that. Many of them landed on nearby fields, out of range of our scope.

The ones that landed nearer the viewing platform made a huge racket. Many people, most who were not birders, came to experience the cacophony and awesomeness of the vast numbers of cranes.

The secretive American Bittern that lives at Sweetwater Wetlands has been easier to see since the first week in January. Prior to this we had only seen it once. This January, we’ve had three good views of it. It moves slowly and doesn’t seem to notice the cameras, so if one photographer finds it, others have an excellent chance to see it too.

The American Bittern’s bold stripes help it to be camouflaged among the reeds.

We had never seen a Burrowing Owl, so when we discovered that they were quite common in the fields about a half hour from our place, we went in search of one. Driving alongside fields is not our favourite way to look for birds. The fields were full of ravens, but that seemed to be all there was, until Doug spotted a suspicious-looking lump which turned out to be an owl. It sat still and didn’t seem to notice us, and Doug was able to get several photos. When we left, it was still there.

Here’s a Lark Sparrow, all fluffed up as protection from the chilly air, at a spot near to where we saw the Burrowing Owl.

We have Gambel’s Quail in our yard everyday, but this one was in perfect light at the Desert Museum.

We finally saw the rare Rose-throated Becard on a trail in Tubac, high up in the cottonwoods. The female makes the nest, which is a very large mass of vegetation with an entrance low on one side. It’s the dark spot high in the trees in the photo below. We saw the female close to this nest but it was impossible to get a photo. So we thought the photo of the nest would have to do.

But we went back a couple of weeks later, and this time we were much luckier. The female Rose-throated Becard doesn’t have a rosy throat, however. She does have rufous sides to her wings and what looks like blush on her cheeks.

The bonus bird for this trip to Tubac was a male Green Kingfisher. He posed on a branch just below the bridge. We’ve only seen one in Arizona a number of years ago. It was an unexpected bit of good luck.

We went back to Kennedy Park to see the Williamson’s Sapsucker. This time, she was lower on the tree and Doug was able to get a good photo. Usually it is hard to see the bit of yellow on her belly.

This Greater Pewee posed nicely. The photo shows its bi-coloured bill well. It’s a little bigger than the Olive-sided flycatcher that we are familiar with in BC. It is found in Arizona and eastern New Mexico in the summer and normally winters in Mexico. This one seems pretty happy to fly-catch above a golf course pond in central Tucson.

Another lucky find was this Ferruginous Hawk. We had just left a spot that had Horned Larks (too small for a good photo) and Doug kept his camera nearby. So when we spotted it perched on a pole he was ready. He got a photo of it flying into a nearby field, and an even better one of it on the ground. There hadn’t been any sightings of this species of hawk this close to Tucson, so several birders from the area came to see it, some even the same day as our report was submitted.

We found these Hepatic Tanagers drinking in the creek in Madera Canyon. The male is reddish (hepatic = relating to the liver, in this case, liver-coloured.)

The female Hepatic Tanager is yellowish, similar to the female Summer and female Scarlet tanagers. Note the dark bill (similar to the Scarlet Tanager and unlike a Summer Tanager) and the greyish wings (unlike the Scarlet Tanager and similar to the Summer Tanager).

This Bridled Titmouse was bathing in the same stream as the tanagers. Bridled Titmice are the desert equivalent of a chickadee and just as cute.

Our final bird photo for January is of a Swamp Sparrow. They are pretty hard to find in the western US in winter except along the coast. This one found a small patch of swamp at Christopher Columbus Park and has been there for three weeks now.

This is only a selection of the birds that we’ve seen. We pretty much do some birding everyday, and birds are plentiful here so we see a lot of them.

Our next blog will be a special edition about our hiking trip to “The Wave” in northern Arizona.

Arizona Fun – January 2022

Arizona Fun – January 2022

We’ll cover the end of December and all of January in this blog post.

We rode at the Tortilla Preserve several times, but we only stopped for photos twice. Here’s another shot of Wendy riding by “Strongarm” in late December.

And one of her riding down one of the washes in late January.

On to our hiking. December 13 was one of our last really warm day of the year, so we hiked the “Wild Mustang” trail in the Tortilla Mountains.

Doug did really well with his not yet six-month knee replacement.

The next week, we showed our friends from Cranbrook one of our favourite loops in Saguaro National Park. We hiked up the Hugh Norris trail, to Sendero Esperanza to Dobe Wash and back to the trailhead following the Bajada trail.

We hiked again in Sabino Canyon, and this time took the short side trip to see this amazing crested saguaro.

Another blue sky day in the mountains.

Here’s a photo of Doug walking up Prophecy Wash, a hike very near our place in Saguaro National Park. Panther Peak is the prominent mountain in the background.

This jumbled ironwood snag was in the middle of the wash.

We hiked out of the wash and over a small ridge so we could join the Picture Rocks Wash to make a loop.

Another day, we hiked up King Canyon in Saguaro National Park. There are some interesting petroglyphs just below the trail convergence.

The same day, we hiked over to the Gould Mine trail to make a loop. Here’s the view over to the Avra Valley and the mountains beyond. In the foreground is an ocotillo in full bud. Ocotillos will leaf out within a few days of a soaking rain.

And here’s a view looking up the trail. The old mine tailings are visible in the background. There were several mines in the area that became Saguaro National Park, and many of the trails follow the old mine roads. The land was declared a national monument in 1933 and became a national park in 1994.

We continued our theme of nearby hikes, with a climb of Panther Peak. We set off on foot from our place. Within fifteen minutes, we were walking below our favourite saguaro grove. Panther Peak is in the background.

Well, maybe this is the favourite saguaro of the hike… So many nice ones! The grass had grown really well over the summer monsoon season and made the way up our normal route more difficult because we couldn’t see the markers or any remnant of a trail.

Here’s Wendy with only a few more steps needed to reach the main ridge. If you had binoculars, you could see our trailer from this point.

We chose to go down the official trail, after meeting a hiking group at the top that had used it to climb up. Canyon wrens’ calls echoed on the steep sides.

Here’s Doug, with a view of the gully that we descended. It was much easier than the rocky route we used to ascend and it made for a nice loop. The trail ended up in a wash that we had explored in previous years, so it wasn’t hard to find our way home.

The next week, we climbed the mountain right beside Panther, one the locals call “El Sombrero.” Its official name is Safford. We found the rocky gully on the approach to be rougher than last year, which we attribute to the heavy summer rains.

The top of the mountain has a few moves that require hands, so we stashed our poles for the final ascent. The town of Marana is in the background.

Here are some animals that we’ve seen this month. (The birds will be in a blog post of their own.) This bobcat lives in the Sweetwater Wetlands where we go birding frequently. It is very comfortable around people. This time, it walked right by us.

Another day, these bobcat kittens lounged in the sun. There was water separating them from the path, so they seemed very relaxed.

This Mexican wolf was active at the Desert Museum. All of the animals have come to the museum as rescues.

It’s always interesting to see flowers blooming in January. This one was at the Desert Museum, and is in the honeysuckle family.

This sunflower is one of the first to bloom on the huge bush in the pollinator garden at the Desert Museum.

Now to our “At Home” shots. On pleasant days we have our happy hour in front of our propane fire with the eastern view of Panther and Sombrero. This night the sky was the feature,

Another day we were earlier, and this was our view of the mountains.

So we’ll end with our sunrise and sunset pictures – one of each.



The next blog post will have photos of places we’ve birded and of course, lots of photos of birds.

Birding in Arizona: Nov. – Dec. 2021

Birding in Arizona: Nov. – Dec. 2021

This blog will be all about our birding adventures.

Sometimes it’s really hard to find a certain bird because birds have that tendency to fly anywhere they want. But sometimes it’s really easy. This Wood duck was in a pond at Reid Park, in the centre of Tucson. The hardest part was locating him among the hundreds of other ducks (Mallards, American Widgeons, Ring-necked Ducks) but he was very distinctive. He cooperated by swimming close to the edge of the pond. Wood ducks have been known to winter in the area, but they still make it into the “Rare Bird Alert” on our eBird app.

This White-faced Ibis must have thought he was in Mexico already and he hung out in the Santa Cruz River near the bridge that we drive over most days on our way into Tucson. Another easy “rare” bird.

Probably the easiest rare bird we saw this November was a Williamson’s Sapsucker. She chose to hang out in the pines behind the scoreboards in a southwest city park. She was preening herself way up in the tree, so we were able to see her well enough, but the photos are not “blog worthy.” We’ve never seen this species before, even though they spend their summers in Ponderosa Pine forests near where we live in the summer.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a great place to see birds. Most are wild birds that enjoy the habitat that the grounds provide, but some are captive birds that are trained to participate in the museum’s “Raptor Free Flight” program. Below are two photos of a Gray Hawk; one as it’s landing and one as it’s taking off during the program. Gray Hawks sometimes make their way into the Tucson area and we were lucky enough to see one in the wild last spring.

This Rufous-winged Sparrow was also at the Desert Museum. The little rufous patch on its shoulder is easy to see in this photo. This species is only found in southern Arizona and northwestern Mexico.

The Desert Museum is also a great place to see hummingbirds. Most of the photos on previous blogs are of hummingbirds that we’ve seen in the gardens of the museum or somewhere else in the wild, but the following ones were taken in the Hummingbird Aviary. This one is a female Anna’s Hummingbird.

The long, flared gorget of this male Costa’s Hummingbird sparkled in the sunlight.

Rufous Hummingbirds are only in the Tucson area during migration. They are the most common ones that we see at home in BC.

Another great place to see birds and hummingbirds in particular is the Tucson Audubon Society’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds in Patagonia, AZ.

It’s the only place that we’ve seen the Violet-crowned Hummingbird. When we visited towards the end of November, it was the only hummingbird we saw there. (Although there were plenty of other interesting birds.)

Madera Canyon is always a dependable place to see some interesting birds. The creek in the canyon had a good amount of water this fall after the wet monsoon season this summer.

This Hepatic Tanager looks a lot like a Summer Tanager, but has a dark bill and a darker face. It’s found in pine-oak forests, which includes Madera Canyon, but they don’t venture much farther north than the Arizona border.

We always love to see Painted Redstarts, and there are many of them that spend their winters in Madera Canyon. They are also a southern bird.

This White-breasted Nuthatch posed in its typical downward facing position. They are found year-round throughout the US and southern Canada. They make quite a racket, so it’s usually easy to find them in a tree.

Perhaps this Hermit Thrush spent its summer up in Canada, although they are known to stay in this area all year. This one posed nicely so we could get a good look at him.

We like to think that the Ruby-crowned Kinglets that we see here in Arizona, spent their summers in Canada, but there is no way of knowing. Usually, the ruby crown is hidden, but this fellow had it on display for us. He was also at Madera Canyon.

We often see a Northern Cardinal when we go birding, especially in the Tubac area. Doug had fun catching this female cardinal in flight.

We go birding at Sweetwater Wetlands regularly. Sometimes, we can get a good view of a bird but have a hard time identifying it. This Ring-necked Duck is a good example. It was by itself, and not in breeding plumage.

And sometimes a bird likes to hide in the reeds and we are lucky if we see one. This Sora ventured out for brief moments allowing Doug to get a few photos. We were examining the reeds very diligently this day, because an American Bittern had been seen in the area over the previous days. We didn’t see the bittern, or perhaps I should rephrase that to say: we have yet to see the bittern, because we will keep looking.

There are also some birds that are in a known location that almost every birder wants to see, but they are still hard to find. We visited Catalina State Park with the intention of seeing some Long-eared Owls. Luckily, a kind birder saw us coming down the trail and walked back with us to the spot where he had seen an owl. He told us someone had showed him the spot, so he was passing it on. We have to thank the first birder who found their day’s roosting spot and let someone else know. Here Wendy is looking at a “lump” in the far mesquite which is actually a Long-eared Owl.

This is the best photo that Doug could get. The tangle of branches made focussing the camera very difficult.

Long-eared Owls are one of the few species that roost communally, which means that if you can see one, you might be able to see others. Since someone had shown us the location, we showed another six or seven people. One of the birders that we showed the first one to, soon found another two owls, and then a fourth. With difficulty, we were able to identify the “lumps” as owls. The owls were so far away that they were unaffected by the attention.

Also that day, we got good views of Lawrence’s Goldfinches. They winter in southern Arizona and northern Mexico, and they are only otherwise found in California. Here’s a photo of a male.

This female Tennessee Warbler was a bit tricky to find because it looks very similar to an Orange-crowned Warbler. There were plenty of Orange-crowns around so it meant looking carefully at each one. It was extra special because it was the first one we had ever seen.

This Northern Parula was in the same grove of trees at Christopher Columbus Park that we saw the Tennessee Warbler. Its normal range in the eastern US. Because it is so distinctive, we were able to see it on three different days.

Warblers love the trees along the Santa Cruz River near Tubac. One of the times were went there, we were lucky enough to see a Chestnut-sided Warbler, but she flitted so quickly among the leaves that all the photos were blurry. We’ve wandered into these cottonwoods numerous times in search of the Rose-throated Becard, but we have yet to see it. But we will keep trying.

Arrivaca Lake is a beautiful spot south of Tucson. We’d never been there and wanted to explore a new area. Like many lakes in Arizona, it is dammed which means it has virtually no shoreline. It would be ideal to bird it from a kayak or canoe, but very difficult on foot. We’ll probably never see the Green Kingfisher that has been spotted there. But we had a bit of an adventure climbing the ridges around the lake and we had a nice look at a Belted Kingfisher.

We will take a break from writing a blog, but not from looking at birds, so there will more photos when we post again at the end of January.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Back to Arizona – Nov. – Dec., 2021

Back to Arizona – Nov. – Dec., 2021

We’re back at our place near Tucson, Arizona. This time it was a lot easier getting across the border. The hardest part was getting off our street because it was slippery with a new snowfall. Once we were on the highway it was smooth sailing.

The border wasn’t crowded at all, even though we went through on November 8th, the first day that it opened.

After three long driving days, we were at our place looking east at the mountains in Saguaro National Park.

The weather was unseasonably warm those first few weeks, so we enjoyed some outdoor dinners.

We’d missed the Arizona sunsets,

and sunrises.

Instead of shovelling snow, we helped our landlady place new fenceposts.

In the first few weeks, we worked on our fitness, with easy walking while we were birding. It also took awhile to retrain our ears to the bird calls and familiarize ourselves with the local birds. Here Doug is likely looking at a Yellow-rumped warbler at Sweetwater Wetlands.

We visited Silverbell Lake at Christopher Columbus Park to see if the resident Snow Goose was still there (he was). The lake is popular with fishers. We’ve seen huge catfishes being caught. The water is coloured with a non-toxic dye in order to keep the algae from growing.

There were plenty of other interesting birds there, which will be covered in the next blog post. And this orange dragonfly, a Flame Skimmer, caught our eye.

We visit the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum about once a week. Doug always gets good photos there. This time, he was getting shots of a Rufous-winged Sparrow. Have a look at the cholla (a multi-spine cactus) just to Doug’s right in the photo below. That messy bit of twigs on the top is a nest of a Cactus Wren.

Wendy was in position to capture the wren leaving the nest with her phone camera.

The cactus garden at the museum seems to always have something in bloom. Below is a Crow’s Claw Barrel cactus. Its native to central and southern Mexico.

Another day at the Desert Museum, we viewed the Mountain Lion (we’d call it a Cougar at home) through a thick piece of plexiglass. He was literally right in front of us.

Our first hike was on flat trails in Arthur Pack Park, a desert oasis in northwest Tucson.

We also hiked the gentle hills at the Sweetwater Preserve.

Towards the end of November, Doug figured his new knee was ready for a real hike. We hiked the Alamo Springs trail in the Tortolita Mountains.

It was good to get up high again, and we were happy that we managed the four hour hike without any trouble.

In early December, we hiked another of our favourite trails: the Hugh Norris trail in Saguaro National Park (west). The first part of the trail is really well built with hundreds of stone steps.

Within half an hour, we reached the ridge. The trail traversed the ridge with slight changes in elevation and with good views.

We were surprised to see this little flower blooming among the rocks. It’s known as Trailing windmills (Allionia incarnata).

We’ve also had a great time mountain biking. We rode on the paved “Loop” trail a couple of times to gain some fitness, but by the third week in November, we tackled our favourite trail at the Tortolita Preserve. Here’s Doug in action.

And another of Doug coming up a slightly rocky bit.

The photo below shows Wendy approaching the steepest piece. It’s probably only 30 degrees but from the sandy bottom it appears to be vertical. Anyway, everytime we make it up this bit we give ourselves a cheer.

The whole trail is about fifteen kilometres and it takes us a little over an hour. The last part is gradually uphill, and it seems to never end. This stately saguaro let’s us know that it’s five minutes to the truck.

Wendy named the saguaro, “Mr. Majestic.” Here’s a staged photo of Wendy (she turned around and rode back) with one of her favourite saguaros.

At the end of November, we drove to Ramsey Canyon Preserve, which is close to Sierra Vista. We had two goals; to see some different birds and to view the fall colours. We saw a lot of birds that we could see in BC in the summertime. Townsend’s and Yellow-rumped warblers, and Ruby-crowned kinglets were plentiful.

The white-barked Arizona Sycamores add a brightness to the scene.

These cacti are all ready for Christmas.

We’ll do one more post that will be “birds only,” then take a break until the end of January. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

April in Arizona – Part 2: Coming Home

April in Arizona – Part 2: Coming Home

We left the Tucson area on April 19 and headed to Page, AZ. Page is at the western end of Lake Powell. We booked three nights in the Wahweep campground and stayed in a large site overlooking the lake.

On the first day we walked on the nature trail near the campground and recorded seventeen species of birds, including a Hooded Oriole, which was common for us in the southwest, but rare for Page, which is just on the Utah border.

Later that morning, we mountain biked the Page Rim Trail, which is a sixteen kilometre loop around the city. The section of trail in the photo is pretty mellow; there are harder bits on narrow sections with drop-offs farther along. Notice how low the lake is; the white area along the water’s edge is the “bathtub ring” and shows how high the water used to be.

The next day we drove an hour along the highway in Utah, then turned down a “main” dirt road that eventually crossed the border back into Arizona. Soon we turned off and negotiated the sandy roads. Doug likens it to driving in deep snow – don’t stop!

Finally we were at White Pocket, which is a part of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. The sign warns, “Routes are not defined. Know where you are going and how to get back.” We had visited back in 2016, so we weren’t worried. It’s basically a large outcropping surrounded by desert scrub so there was a natural boundary.

We took so many photos. It seemed that around every corner there was another amazing view. Here’s a “long” view so you might get a sense of the scale.

Here’s the same formation a little closer.

This is our favourite section. We climbed down this notch twice and up it once, because we kept circling around.

Here’s Doug in almost the same place.

Wendy just a little farther along, going back up to the notch.

We liked the red rock best, but much of the area was white “brain-like” rock. Wendy is taking a photo of some cacti that are surviving in a rather inhospitable place.

This sloping ridged walkway is another favourite spot.

We saw other people at White Pocket, but it was easy to avoid them. We did stop to talk with a guide who had stationed himself while his clients clambered around him. He gave us the scoop to the route to Double Barrel Arch which was on our way home. The arches are visible from the main road, but he told us about walking up an old road behind them so we could get a closer view.

The next day we took the same “main” dirt road but stopped earlier at the Wire Pass trailhead. The trail followed a wash that led to a slot canyon.

It then opened up and there was a short section of red wavy rock.

After the next narrow section, there is a wall of petroglyphs where the canyon from Wire Pass joins Buckskin Gulch. The bighorn sheep is Wendy’s favourite.

Now we were in Buckskin Gulch. We chose to turn right and head south (downstream if there was water). The other times that we had explored this direction were short-lived, because there was too much water. This time we brought water shoes but didn’t need them because it was completely dry.

This section would have been very difficult with muddy water covering the rocks.

The sun reflecting in an opening farther along makes the rocks seem like they are on fire.

On our last night at Lake Powell we wandered around the campground at sunset. (As you may be aware, every post needs a sunset photo.)

Next stop was Cortez, Colorado. We arrived around noon, just as a snow squall hit. However, it cleared up in a few hours, so we decided to drive up to Mesa Verde National Park. The road is 32 kilometres from the base up to the museum and the start of the hike to Petroglyph Point. That meant we didn’t start hiking until 3:45, which was unusual for us to start that late. The trail traversed the side of Spruce Canyon. There was one tight section.

We reached the petroglyphs in about an hour. The late afternoon sun made the panel stand out.

Here’s another view of the panel; the largest one in Mesa Verde.

Just above the panel, the trail heads up the cliff band. Steps have been cut into the rock.

We followed the level trail along the mesa back to the museum. In the photo below, the trail is just out of view in the trees above Spruce House. On a previous trip, we were able to tour the ancient site. Currently it is closed to the public because park staff are stabilizing the access trail.

Another day, we did the road tour of Mesa Verde. We got to the Square Tower overlook around 9:30 and had the spot to ourselves.

Another big reason to visit Cortez is so we can ride one of our favourite mountain biking trails at Phil’s Trailhead. This section is called “The Ribcage” because it has a multitude of “down and ups” similar to a rollercoaster. Doug stopped to get this photo of Wendy near the bottom of the “whoops.” It was too much fun to stop higher up for a photo.

Then it was time to head home. The first day of driving over Soldier Pass in Utah and through Salt Lake City in the pouring rain, was less than ideal. So the next day we only drove as far as Idaho Falls. We got there early enough so we could get our COVID-19 test done in preparation for crossing the Canadian border.

Our results (negative) were ready by 7:00 the next morning, so we chose to tackle the long drive in one push. Our border crossing went smoothly and after an eleven hour trip, we were home in our own driveway. And now we are through our two week quarantine and ready to enjoy spring in the East Kootenay!

The Redwood is all cleaned out and “put to sleep.” Look for our next post sometime in the fall!

April in Arizona – Part 1

April in Arizona – Part 1

On April 1, we drove two and a half hours to Organ Pipe National Monument. Perhaps we were the “April Fools,” because by the time we started hiking (9:30) it was 26 degrees. We took the path to Bull Pasture that you can see veering off ahead of Wendy in the photo below.

Organ Pipe cactus has a limited range in the US. It is common in Mexico in eastern Sonora. It is far more frost sensitive than saguaros, so it grows better near rock outcroppings that keep the heat and shield it from frost.

The trail was through rocky terrain.

We climbed up to an area called “Bull Pasture,” which is an elevated plateau. We can’t imagine that any cattle would be happy here.

These Golden Hedgehog cacti were close to the trail, almost at the elevation of the “pasture.” They are another of the cacti species that is found here, but in only a few other places in Arizona.

This pretty cactus is quite small (15-20 cm tall) and according to our field guide, is “exceptionally common” in Southern Arizona. It’s known as Graham fishhook.

We came down from Bull Pasture through Estes Canyon. By the time we were back at the truck, it was 11:30 and 35 degrees. April’s heat wave had just begun.

The next day was too hot to bike or hike, so we went to Sweetwater Wetlands to look at birds. We were sitting in the shade, surveying the pond, when we saw this Green Heron catch a frog. It looked at first that it was too big for the bird to manage, but after the heron positioned the frog properly, it was able to swallow the whole thing at once. Notice the lump in the heron’s throat in the last photo.

We went to Reid Park for some birding, early on Easter Sunday. The park was busy with the “advance crews”: family members who were designated to set up and “claim” a spot for their family picnic later in the day. It wasn’t too busy for the birds, however.

This American Pipit had us stumped at first, because we would usually see it on mud flats and in a small flock.

We have seen Yellow-rumped Warblers almost all winter, but this male looked especially nice in his breeding plumage.

On our way home, we made a quick stop at Christopher Columbus Park, especially to see if the Western Grebe was still there (it was). We were really lucky to see this Hermit Warbler in a pine beside the lake. Hermit Warblers are only in southern Arizona during migration, and then they would be more likely to be found in a forest. This sighting was therefore given the “rare” designation. And it was the first Hermit Warbler we had ever seen.

Later that week, it was still too warm to do any more desert hiking, so we headed to the upper trails of Madera Canyon. We took the Old Baldy trail up to Josephine Saddle, where this photo was taken.

This photo of the tall pine (and Wendy for scale) is a few 100 metres down the “Super Trail” from the signpost in the last photo. We took the newer and less steep “Super Trail” down to our starting point to make a ten kilometre loop hike.

It was just after twelve when we got back to the truck, so there was plenty of time to look for birds lower in the canyon. This Arizona woodpecker was near the feeders at Santa Rita Lodge.

We walked the trail below the Madera Canyon Picnic site. This Painted Redstart put on a show for us for at least fifteen minutes, so Doug got plenty of photos.

Ramsey Canyon Nature Conservancy Preserve is just southwest of Sierra Vista and was on our list to visit. It used to be the Mile-Hi Ranch and still has some standing buildings, although many have been removed. Because it has high canyon walls and a perennial stream, it has a cooler environment. On April 12, we saw plenty of warblers: Lucy’s, Yellow-rumped, Grace’s, Black-throated Gray, Townsend’s, Hermit and Painted Redstart; and three species of hummingbirds (Rivoli’s, Black-chinned and Broad-billed.) There would be many more varieties of hummingbirds later in the season.

The Paton Center for Hummingbirds in Patagonia opened in April after having been closed to the public since spring of 2020. We visited the center on April 15, and were rewarded with a good view of the Violet-crowned Hummingbird, the species that made the center famous.

This Broad-billed Hummingbird, although more common, is our favourite hummingbird.

After the Paton Center, we headed to Patagonia Lake State Park. We walked the birding trail and saw Summer and Western Tanagers, and a Zone-tailed Hawk, along with forty-one other species of birds.

After that, we got a permit for the Sonita Preserve, which is just outside the state park. After driving to the end of the road and the parking lot, we walked down a service road to get a view of the lake. Through the scope, we could see Ring-billed Gulls in the middle of the lake and a pair of grebes (Western and Clark’s) in the bay.

We got five mountain bike rides in before we left the Tucson area. We sometimes set the alarm for 5:00 so we could be on the trail by 7:30 to beat the heat. Even though we rode the same trail in the Tortolita Preserve over and over again, it was never boring. We enjoyed mastering the tricky bits and noticing different things along the trail.

These two saguaros, dubbed “The Hugging Twins” were a significant landmark for us, because when we passed them we knew we only had five minutes before we could see the parking lot and the end of the trail. Each ride took us about an hour and a quarter.

We visited the Desert Museum for two more times in April. These Passionflowers fascinated us with their variety of colours.

These Long-spine Prickly Pear flowers were also captivating.

This Saguaro is from South America, and grows in Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. It has a showier flower than the local saguaros.

But the local saguaros were also putting of a show. This saguaro was an “early bloomer” on April 7 at the Desert Museum.

By April 15, the saguaros were blooming everywhere. This nice one was growing right beside the main road into our neighbourhood.

And the Palo verde tree in our yard was also in blossom.

We always want to include a sunset in our post. A few clouds always add some interest.

And this is the last one for this season from our spot in Picture Rocks, Arizona.

Part 2 will detail our trip home to Canada. You can look forward to sights from Page, Arizona (Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument) and Cortez, Colorado (Mesa Verde National Park).

March in Arizona – Part 2

March in Arizona – Part 2

This post is all about birds we’ve photographed and the places we’ve seen them.

In early March we visited Agua Caliente, a historic resort that has been converted to a regional park. It had a very tropical feel with all the introduced palm trees.

This Hooded Merganser was hanging out with a pair of Mallards in the main pond. It’s the only one we’ve seen in Arizona, although they’re only considered uncommon in the winter months here. This one is a first year male and we thought he was pretty special.

This Northern Parula is in the Wood-Warbler family and is considered rare in all of the west. We were thrilled to be able to find it in our binoculars in a tall willow, and Doug was very pleased to get a photo.

This Lucy’s Warbler was in the same tree. If you look closely, you can see rusty speckles on its head. Since seeing this one, we’ve had numerous sightings; they seem to be everywhere! One even visited us at our yard. But the first good sighting is always special.

Perhaps this should have been called the “Cute Birds” section. (Can you decide which is the cutest?) We like to say that, “every bird is a good bird” when people ask, “Have you seen any good birds today?” but we think this Ovenbird is a very good bird. It’s also a Wood-Warbler and like the Northern Parula, its quite aways from where it should be living. Its also quite skulky, walking along the forest floor. Luckily, we had information about where it might be found, but even so, we looked for it on two different days before we were successful. It was hanging out near the Anza trail close to Tubac.

Tumacacori National Historic Park is close to Tubac and about five minutes from where we saw the Ovenbird. We did the full tour last spring. This year, we headed directly to the orchard in hopes of finding another rare bird.

And we successfully located a Black-capped Gnatcatcher. This male’s cap hasn’t quite come in all the way yet, but its dark bill is a distinguishing characteristic. Black-capped Gnatcatchers don’t wander very far into the US and are usually found in Mexico.

For some variety, we drove to the Ironwood Forest National Monument, which is within twenty minutes of our place. We had information that a couple of Sagebrush Sparrows were hanging out near a corral. We found the corral and there were plenty of sparrows around, but they were all a long ways out in among the bushes. We saw some common sparrows (White-crowned and Black-throated) but not the particular one we were looking for. Here’s a view of the Ironwood Forest, which doesn’t have very many trees in it at all.

Wendy was trying to get closer to some sparrows, but Doug saw the bigger picture and took this great shot of the clouds.

Although we didn’t see a new sparrow for us, we did get a view of these “birds.” These heritage aircraft (circa WWII) were in town getting re-certified so that the pilots would be able to fly in upcoming airshows around the country.

It was a cool day at Sweetwater Wetlands when we saw this Cooper’s Hawk perched on a post. You can see white spots on its back because its all fluffed up trying to keep warm.

Another day at the Wetlands, we had a good look at a Green-tailed Towhee. Usually they hide underneath bushes. They are a little smaller than the Spotted Towhees that we have in BC.

We have posted many Pied-billed Grebe photos on this blog, but this one is a bit different. Doug was lucky enough to have his camera ready when this grebe came up with its next meal: a frog.

We never know what unusual bird we might see at Sweetwater Wetlands. This day we were treated with a sighting of a Black-bellied Whistling Duck. Apparently, they are common locally around Tucson, but this is the first we’ve seen in Arizona. And, according to the reports, it flew off the next day.

Black-chinned Sparrows are uncommon and like to hang out on arid hillsides with dense patches of vegetation which makes them difficult to see. Luckily for us, a couple of them have taken up residence at the Desert Museum, and we’ve had a couple of opportunities to see them. This day, this sparrow was more interested in the grass seed and totally ignored us.

This female Costa’s Hummingbird entertained us another day at the Desert Museum. You can see pollen on her bill.

We have a trio of Harris’s Hawks in our neighbourhood. One afternoon, Wendy looked up from her sewing machine and saw a hawk fly by. We grabbed the binoculars and camera and went out to investigate, and Doug caught this one in flight. Harris’s Hawks hunt in family units. Last year, we got good view of them at the Desert Museum’s “Raptor Free Flight” (which isn’t taking place this year), but this was the closest we’ve ever seen them in the wild. We’ve seen them from a distance for the last few weeks on our daily walk in the neighbourhood.

The middle of March is a good time to see hawks and other birds in migration. We went to an open field in Tubac and sighted five species of hawks (Cooper’s, Common Black Hawk, Gray Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk) as well as Turkey Vultures, but most were so high up in the sky that a photo wasn’t warranted. These White-faced Ibis were interesting though.

The hawk sightings dwindle by late morning, so before lunch, we went birding along the nearby Anza trail. We saw this Cassin’s Kingbird right after we crossed the road. It is quite similar to the western Kingbird that we see in BC, but is has more gray on its throat.

We also saw this Gray Hawk perched way up in a cottonwood.

After lunch, we drove a few minutes south to the Santa Gertrudis Lane, which has an access to the Santa Cruz River and the Anza trail. We’ve posted pictures from this river in the last few months, because we have been looking to see a Rufous-backed Robin. This time we were successful, but it was such a quick look that we don’t have a photo. Later in the month, we returned again and although we had a better view of the robin, the photographs were only good for identification purposes. That gives us a good reason to go back again!

We went birding a lot in March – over twenty days. We hope you enjoyed seeing some of the birds we saw.

March in Arizona – Part 1

March in Arizona – Part 1

This post focusses on our activities of hiking and mountain biking and the creatures and flowers that we’ve photographed in March. Part 2 is all about the birds.

Our first hike in March was to Brown Mountain. It’s named after a gentleman named Brown who was active in the formation of the Tucson Mountain Park where it’s located. It’s a rather low bump to earn the title “mountain,” but perhaps “Brown Bump” wouldn’t seemed like much of an honour to Mr. Brown. The hike goes up, then along the ridge, down the other side and along the flats to the start for about six kilometres total. Here’s Doug near the high point of the ridge with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in the background. He’s wearing a knee brace which seems to help with his knee pain.

Our next hike was to Madera Canyon. Usually we go to the canyon to bird, and we slowly walk the lower trails. This time we continued up the nature trail to the end of the road (and a picnic site), then back down. We want to hike to the peaks in the background, but we want the snow up there to melt first.

This view of Golden Gate Mountain (left) is from the David Yetman trail in Tucson Mountain Park. Our hike started on the other side of the low pass in the centre of the photo. We found some trails to loop around at about the altitude that this photo was taken and then returned over the pass to our truck for a six kilometre hike.

We’ve hiked almost every trail within a half hour drive from our place, so we were happy to find this trail with such a great view of Sombrero Peak, (which we climbed in February.) The trail is in the northeast corner of Saguaro National Park (West) and is appropriately called “Scenic Trail.” We used it to link to a trail that goes to a pass between Sombrero and the outcropping on the right, and to an unofficial trail that we have previously used to as an approach route to Sombrero. It made for a pleasant afternoon walk on one of our cooler days.

Later in the month, we hiked again in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area to the “Phoneline” trail. The trail contoured along the sides of the canyon, below the ridge we climbed earlier. Here’s a panoramic view looking at the trail and the upper canyon.

And here’s a view of Wendy on the Sabino Canyon Historic trail that we used to get off the ridge and down to the road. An electric tram takes visitors up and down the canyon. We walked along the road back to the parking lot and met families with young children who had got off at the end of the route and hiked along as far as they had energy for, and then hopped back on the returning tram. The paved road made the sixteen kilometre hike achievable for us.

Our last hike in March was back at Madera Canyon, on the opposite side of the canyon from our earlier hike. We climbed higher on the trail to Bog Springs and Kent Springs, through juniper/oak forest into pine forest. There was snow along the side of the trail at our highest point. We were on the trail in a little over an hour from our trailer, which allows us to easily hike in the forest as well as in the desert.

We have probably been mountain biking more days than we have hiked. With hiking, we try to find new place to explore. With biking, we’re happy to ride the same trail and work on mastering the features or riding it a little bit faster. Plus, we’re finished the ride in less than an hour and a half which means we can read and relax in the afternoon… or do chores or work on blog posts or (for Wendy) sew!

Here are two more pictures of the trail at the Tortolita Preserve.

This post has a new section: “Creatures,” which includes photos of animals, reptiles and insects we’ve photographed. This young bobcat did not seem to be at all shy as it enjoyed the sunshine (and posed plenty of times) one day that we were birding at Sweetwater Wetlands.

This Desert Spiny Lizard was also enjoying a bit of sunshine on another day at the Wetlands.

Sun-bathing seems to be a theme here… This coyote at the Desert Museum has a favourite rock that it sleeps on.

This squirrel was also at the Desert Museum, but not part of a display. It’s one of the “wild” animals on the grounds, although this fellow seemed pretty tame.

This striped skunk actually was someone’s pet, but now has a home at the museum. Usually it is in its underground burrow, but one morning we were lucky enough to be there as it was being fed. We chatted with its caregiver and found out that when it came to the museum, it was so fat that it could only walk a few steps without resting. Now with proper nutrition it can move around easily, but the caregiver said it is still bulkier-looking than a skunk living in the wild.

This bumble bee is known as a Carpenter Bee, (genus Xylocopa.) This female is way too big to fit in the Penstemon flower, so she “steals” nectar by using her mouth parts to cut a slit at the base of the corolla, without pollinating the flower.

Every time we visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, there are new plants blooming. This agave is called “Our Lord’s Candle.”

This Mescal Bean flower is on a native shrub. All parts of the plant are poisonous containing the alkaloid cytisine.

The cactus garden at the Desert Museum is constantly changing. This view from mid-March includes blooming pink Penstemon and small yellow flowers in the Sunflower family.

Towards the end of March, we saw these torch cacti in bloom. This showy cultivated varietal is called “Flying Saucer.”

We also see some interesting flowers when we’re hiking. These “Fairy Dusters” caught our eye on a hike in the Tucson Mountain Park.

On the same hike, we got a close look at Ocotilla in bloom.

Although this March has generally had below seasonal temperatures, we’ve had some opportunities to eat dinner outside on our patio. For those of you interested in details, the candles are battery operated and the wine glasses have covers to prevent tiny flies from getting in.

And there were a couple of days when it was too hot to have an iron adding heat to the inside, so Wendy set up her pressing station on the patio under the canopy.

And every post must have an iconic sunset. This one was on March 29.

That wraps up the hiking, biking, flowers and creatures of March. Part 2 (posting soon) will be all about the birds we’ve seen.

February in Arizona – Part 2

February in Arizona – Part 2

This post is all about our birding adventures. Be prepared for many photos of birds.

We returned to the Tubac area, to a location a bit south of Turmacocori National Historic Park to an access point to the Anza trail called Santa Gertrudis Lane. This is the view of the Santa Cruz river. The tall cottonwoods are just starting to green up in early February.

We were here to see any birds that we could, but specifically, the Rufous-backed Robin. We have yet to see one, although we have seen a few American Robins. Wendy is probably looking at an Abert’s Towhee, which are numerous and robin-sized.

We got a good look at this Mexican duck. Both the male and female resemble a female Mallard and is included as a subspecies of mallard in older field guides. The male below has a distinctive yellow bill and his wings in flight show narrow white bars rather than the bold white bars of a Mallard.

These Inca doves were foraging near the riverbank. They are very small and slender doves with dark-edged feathers that give them that scaly appearance.

While searching for the robins, we were rewarded with a view of this male Hepatic Tanager. Mostly they winter in Mexico, so this fellow is at the northern edge of his range.

Another time we accessed the Anza trail between Tumacacori and Tubac at Clark Crossing Road in Carmen. We got a quick look at this Crissal Thrasher. They are a secretive bird and like to forage in dense brush. This was the third time we had ever seen one and Doug’s first photo.

One of the times that we birded at Santa Gertrudis Lane, we also accessed the Anza trail in Tubac. We were hoping to see a special little bird way up in the cottonwoods. Not this time, but we have this view for you of the cottonwood trees and blue sky instead. Just being in nature is reward enough.

We had good views of this Hutton’s Vireo when we hiked a trail in Madera Canyon. Hutton’s Vireos look very similar to Ruby-crowned Kinglets, but they are stockier and have a thicker, hooked bill, among other subtle differences. This time, there was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a Hutton’s Vireo in the same tree, so we could easily compare them. It also helped that it was a shorter tree, so the birds weren’t that far above us.

Also along the same trail near the Madera Canyon Picnic Area we saw a flock of Yellow-eyed Juncos. Their habits are very similar to the Dark-eyed Juncos that we have at home in Canada, but instead of hopping they walk along the ground when they are foraging. They are found year-round in the southeast corner of Arizona and southwest corner of New Mexico in open pine forest of the mountains.

We were also rewarded with a good look at this Townsend’s Warbler. Townsend’s Warblers will be up in the Cranbrook area later in the spring.

A new birding area for us was Fort Lowell Park. It’s an urban park full of ball-fields and large dried-out lawns, but it has a pond and mature trees and attracts a variety of birds including rarities. There were a few Eastern Bluebirds among the Western Bluebirds. You can tell that this one is an Eastern Bluebird by the rufous throat and sides of neck as well as its white belly.

There were plenty of Lark Sparrows and Doug was able to get a close-up shot.

We also enjoyed watching this brilliant male Vermilion Flycatcher. These flycatchers seem to prefer ball fields and are often along the fences. This time it perched on a tree for a more natural shot.

The Santa Cruz River flows from Mexico through Tucson, and although some sections don’t have any water, treated waste water is added to sections within Tucson. We accessed the river bank by walking along “The Loop” shared pathway and cutting down some informal trails. The day that this photo was taken, we were searching for a Gray Hawk and came upon this scenic view, (as long as you look in the right direction and avoid looking at garbage and debris that has been deposited after a flood.) There was a Cooper’s Hawk sitting in the middle of the tree, which Doug took many photos of with his bigger camera, but that decided to fly off just as he took this one with his iPhone. You can just make out the hawk in the photo below if you know where to look.

So no Gray Hawk that day, but about a week later we returned and found a different access to the water and were rewarded with some quick views, mostly of the Gray Hawk flying away. It stopped long enough in a distant tree for Doug to get this photo. Gray hawks are rare and very local at only a few locations near the Mexican border. Apparently there are only about 100 nesting pairs in the United States.

After our success with the Gray Hawk, we drove a short ways to Silverbell Lake in Christopher Columbus Park to see the birds there. The lake has been artificially coloured (not sure why) and is full of fish (or we think so because of all the people fishing from shore.) The pretty goose in the right photo also looks surreal, and sort of is, because its a Snow Goose that has decided to take up residence.

A Western Grebe was also enjoying the lake.

We made another visit to Reid Park in central Tucson. We were there especially to see a couple of Red Crossbills,…

… but were also impressed with these Cedar Waxwings feeding on Palm Tree fruit.

Doug is always keen to go to Reid Park because there is a good chance of catching military aircraft flying over on their way to or from Davis-Montham Airforce Base. Here are some photos of those other “birds.” The two aircraft on the left are A10s, known as “Warthogs.” The A-10 is a very distinctive-looking, slower flying aircraft, designed for ground attack. The aircraft on the right is a EC130-H Hercules, which is cargo plane designed for electronic warfare. If you look closely you can make out the wire antenna array beyond the tail, which is designed to jam electronic signals.

We also looked to birds every time we visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. One early morning in February we were lucky enough to see a couple of roosting Black Vultures. The vultures were sitting on the structure that housed the museum’s captive vultures, separated from them by only a few metres and a wire netting. It’s unclear about why they were there; were they working out an escape plan, or taunting the captive ones? A maintenance worker told us they had been there for about three nights. Vultures wait until the air warms up enough so they can use the rising air thermals to gain height. When we looked for them a half hour later, they were gone.

The hummingbirds love the gardens at the Desert Museum, especially since many of their favourite flowers are planted there. Here’s a close-up of a female Costa’s Hummingbird.

One last location to describe. We went to Sweetwater Wetlands several times in February. On this particular cooler, cloudy day, the Snowy Egret was putting on a good show and seemed quite comfortable standing on the railing. We took plenty of pictures of it, but still wanted to see the other birds in the pond. You can see Wendy looking through the ‘scope and with the unperturbed Snowy Egret on the railing. We were rewarded with a good view of this male Wood Duck.

On another day, Doug caught this Common Gallinule vocalizing. Gallinules are in the same family as American Coots, but unlike coots, they are generally solitary. They also never make it as far north as BC.

This little bird was enjoying a bath in the stream at the entrance to the wetlands. Its the most unusual sighting of an Orange-crowned Warbler that we’ve had.

Almost every time we visit the wetlands, we see a Northern Harrier. This time it was hunting right near us and Doug was able to catch it in flight. Notice the distinctive white rump.

There is plenty of wildlife at the wetlands. This young raccoon was startled when it saw us. Its buddy had just darted out of the reeds and scampered by and it was deciding whether to follow or retreat. It chose to return to the reeds.

We see so many birds here. We hope you’ve enjoyed the accounts of our February sightings. We already have some fantastic photos for the March blog post, coming in a couple of weeks.