Friday, September 15, 2023

Madera Canyon...Hiking and Birding

Corona de Tucson

September 15, 2023 

I love this road to Madera Canyon...

Madera Canyon has been a long time favorite for Joe and I.  We first visited this gorgeous canyon years ago as snowbirds and these days, we say it is practically in our backyard.  Thursday, dawned a perfect morning...mild temps, a light breeze, and gorgeous blue skies.   Since we needed to be in Green Valley to pick up meds for Jack and Sally at our vets, we decided to take a walk in the canyon first.  Middle Madera Canyon was our choice for the day...










We always stop and listen when we hear the birds as we walk the trail.  Most of the time, we don't see them.  But there are a couple of birds that we can count on being very visible.  The Mexican Jay is at the top of that list.  I think perhaps that is because they live in family groups...they are never alone and if you see one, you could see up to a dozen or more.  To say they love acorns is an understatement as a single Mexican Jay might cache 7,000 acorns in a single year.  But on our visit this week, seeds from the Mexican Pinyon pine cones were breakfast.





The other very visible bird we see is the Acorn Woodpecker.  They also live in family groups and they also love acorns.  They store thousands of them by jamming them into specially made holes in trees with a member of the group on alert to guard the hoard from thieves.  All About Birds describes these medium-sized woodpeckers as a "troupe of wide-eyed clowns"...




Usually when we finish hiking this trail, we continue our walk down to the Santa Rita Lodge Gift Shop to sit on the patio for a snack and water break.  



There are benches to sit and watch the birds...there is a nice variety of seed and suet feeders and peanut butter blocks.   I have never counted them, but there must be over a dozen hummingbird feeders there as well.  


It is a common sight to see the wild turkeys busy foraging for seeds and berries.  


    



I was also thrilled to capture three new birds this week while sitting at the lodge...

A male Hepatic Tanager...


an immature female Black-headed Grosbeak...


and a male White-breasted Nuthatch




Madera Canyon is well known to birders all over the United States.  It is home to over 250 species of birds including 15 hummingbird species. 

Back at the oasis, the week started off on a hot note with temps soaring to 108 on Sunday.  I have no idea what the hottest temp ever recorded for Corona de Tucson is, but I do know this year 108 is the hottest on record.  We had 7 days that reached 108 (June-1, July-5, August-0, and September-1).  Looking ahead, summer temps are giving way to wonderful fall, winter and spring weather...and that is just one of the reasons why we live here !   We had awesome storms three days this week.  Because of flash floods that often occur with these storms, we don't go out, but Wednesday we had no choice as we had an appointment to keep.  

Wednesday about 12:30 pm...we were very happy the storms skirted all around us and our neighborhood had a wonderful rain while downtown Tucson had no rain.  

 Mornings are nice so walks are still early...  





I just happened to look out the bedroom window one morning and saw a hawk in our backyard.  It was on the ground under the bottlebrush tree and flew to the fence and perched there.  I didn't have my camera and by the time I got to the patio door with it, the hawk had flown off.  I'm sure it left empty handed and hungry as there was no evidence it had been successful.  

Backyard photos...


 



And that's a wrap on our week. Until next time...


 



HAPPY TRAILS!

Friday, September 8, 2023

Cactus Forest Trail and a Day Date

Corona de Tucson

September 8, 2023

We welcomed September 1st under a flash flood watch.  It was a wonderful rainy day although the flash floods never happened...at least not at our little oasis.    


Sometimes, the best part of a rainy day is the day after.  Saturday dawned with cool temperatures, gorgeous blue skies and that wonderful earthy scent in the air...a perfect combination for a morning walk in the desert.  

Cactus Forest Trail in Saguaro NP-East is a longtime favorite...

  




Thursday was a day date.  We wanted to try a new restaurant, but first made a stop at Gather for the fall opening event.  Fall isn't exactly "in the air" just yet as summer's heat is still lingering, but it won't be long.  Fall colors have always been my favorite colors and what's not to love about cool nights and warm days? 


 

The lunch choice for our day date was a new to us restaurant we wanted to try.  Ghini's French Caffe and Bakery has been voted (by locals) as "Best of Tucson" for the number one place to eat breakfast for six years in a row.  It was a hard choice deciding what we wanted to eat...a variety of crepes, croques or French toast.  We both decided on the Croque Madame with creamy b├ęchamel and Gruyere topped with an over easy fried egg.  We splurged and shared a rather large strawberry shortbread dessert covered in a mound of whip cream and lightly sprinkled with cocoa. 

Back at the oasis, 

it's nice to see wildflowers and green along the path on our morning walks.  



We had a couple of Harris' Hawks flying overhead this week.  They have never perched on our fence, but they did take a "look-out post" in the pine tree next door.  They flew in as a pair and left together.  It is pretty awesome to see them in flight with a wingspan of 3.5 to 4.8 feet.


  

The hummingbird feeder has been especially busy.  I really like the small feeder for these hot days.  At the end of the day, the feeder is empty and no nectar (which I make) is wasted.  These busy little birds are the first to show up every morning...hovering and waiting for me to get busy !


The thistle feeder...


and the suet feeder stay busy as well.  

Two of my favorites!

Sally and I are usually the first out every morning.  Sally makes sure all is right with her world...


while I fill the thistle and suet feeders and fresh water in the birdbath.

It doesn't take long for the Lesser Goldfinch to realize their feeder is full. 

We love these no-mess large cylinder seed blocks.  They weigh just over 4 pounds and last 10-14 days.  



Sally...



Jack...


That's a wrap on our week...












HAPPY TRAILS!