Friday, May 6, 2022

Madera Canyon

Corona de Tucson

May 6, 2022 

This beautiful piece of southwest Arizona is Madera Canyon.  Madera is a Spanish word meaning lumber or wood and over a century ago, this canyon served as a major source of timber for the city of Tucson...thus its name.   Today it is a haven for diverse wildlife (especially birds), a home for a wide variety of plants and trees, and a relief from the scorching heat for many of us in the summer.  The canyon lies on the northwest face of the Santa Rita Mountains in the Coronado National Forest.  We have hiked here many times in our visits to Tucson...once to Josephine Saddle via the Old Baldy Trail and Super Trail  loop back in 2016. 

My toe is better.  And you know what that means.  Tuesday, we headed to Madera Canyon with Randy to do a "new to us" section of the Proctor Trail.  We parked at the Amphitheater parking area to begin the climb to Mt Wrightson Picnic and Trailheads area.  From the get go, it was mesmerizing...a shady welcome, scents of pine and dirt, birds singing, golden grasses, and mountains and views.     

A few wildflowers added pops of color along the way.  

My dear mother-in-law always said every room needs a splash of red.  I agree !

This section of Proctor Trail meanders up and down with lots of twists and turns as the narrow trail hugs the mountain side.  

We made a wrong left turn so didn't actually make it all the way to the Mt Wrightson picnic area which is at the end of the scenic drive through Madera Canyon.  Next time, we will know to go right.  We walked Madera Canyon Road back to the Amphitheater parking lot.  We saw a group of turkeys (I counted at least nine) by Madera Creek.  

Did you know a group of turkeys is called a rafter?  That is because they like to roost in the rafters of barns and old structures.  

If there are no rafters, they choose to do their roosting in trees.

I just happened to look up as we walked past a rock wall and something red caught my eye.  It was several claret cup cacti just growing out of the rock.  So amazing and pretty...a true rock garden ! 

Back at the oasis, nothing much is going on.  The dahlias are popping up.

We had a new backyard visitor...a Brown-crested Flycatcher.

They are seen in the southwest during breeding season.  Old woodpecker I know they are called saguaro are critical for their nesting habitat.  

In addition to the hike, we have had a couple of early morning walks.  

And Thursday morning, we went to Lowes.  

We never come home empty handed.  

I have been practicing with the focus on my camera.  The globe mallow and hummingbird are on the other side of the wrought iron fence.

And the cone flowers are behind the chair.

So until next week, 


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Saguaro National Park West

Corona de Tucson

May 4, 2022

I don't know about other bloggers, but I refer to the blog often when it comes to questions like... "when did we do that?" and "what did we see?".  I have been wanting to take the back way to Saguaro National Park West for awhile and when I checked the blog, I realized why.  We have driven Gates Pass a few times, but had not visited the west side of the national park since 2016.  So Sunday, we headed north and slightly east (avoiding the interstate and major highways) in search for saguaro cactus blooms.  

I always enjoy the drive on Kinney Road once we enter the Tucson Mountain District. This day was no exception as I was excited at the prospect of seeing those beautiful saguaro blooms up close and not just out the window.

I only had a vague memory of the Visitor Center on the west side and was pleasantly surprised at how pretty it is.  

The front... 


and the back...

We did learn something new at one of the outdoor displays.  Did you know saguaros have boots? A hard shell of callus tissue, heavily impregnated with lignin that the cactus creates to protect the wound, is formed that the birds can use for nesting.  The hard shell is referred to as a boot.  We have seen many saguaro cacti skeletons, but never knew to look for a boot.  Now we know !

The cactus wrens were busy eating the bees and other insects swarming around the blooms and never noticed they had visitors.  

A Ranger told us about a short walking trail a quarter of a mile from the VC where we might find more birds.  It is considered to be a riparian area as it has water during certain times of the year.  

We saw a pair of White-winged Dove.  In the Sonoran Desert, nesting White-winged Doves eat mostly nectar, pollen, fruit and seeds from the saguaro and are nicknamed "saguaro specialists".  Both the saguaro and the dove benefit from the relationship.  

And we saw a Curved-billed Thrasher...well, most of him.

Our auto hike continued on to Bajada Loop Road...the only scenic drive on the west side.  It is a 6 mile graded dirt road with pullouts for photographs, hiking trails and picnic areas.  It is a combo two-way and one-way road that begins about 1 and 1/2 miles from the VC.  

 The prickly pear cacti were glowing...

and the buckhorn cacti were radiant.

The dainty hedgehog cacti always catch my eye.

And then there are the magnificent Saguaro cacti that can only be seen in the Sonoran Desert.

And finally ...a turned down arm and low enough for me to photograph...jackpot !

Bajada Loop, like Cactus Forest Drive in Saguaro NP East is a beautiful and fun scenic drive.  Both never disappoint !

From there we took a few left and right turns, and found ourselves on another favorite road...Gates Pass.  Sundays and auto hikes just seem to go together sometimes and this was a really nice day.  

I had started out with the intention of blogging about the whole week, but this is too long and I have run out of time so I will have to continue later. 

By the way, I still haven't figured out why google will not let me make comments signed in to our account like I have done for the past umpteen years.  I have checked, double checked and triple checked settings, visited the google help site numerous times, and all updates for google and chrome are up to date.     So for now and probably forever, I am ANONYMOUS.  

We enjoyed the long way home !  Until next time,