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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Close, but no Saguaro

April is migration time, both for birds, and their devotees. I thought I would spend this April in Florida. However, due to inadequate planning - which I admit may be the only kind of which I am capable - I opted an auto trip, much closer to home.

Southeast Arizona is an extraordinary local for birds, so it became my destination. Left home yesterday, and today I started my birding tour with the Sonora Desert Museum just outside of Tucson.

 The last time I visited the museum was in 1999. The museum is actually more of a zoological & botantical gardens carved out of the natural desert landscape. Not much interesting to tell of my little tour of the facility other than what happened before I even made my way to the front gates.

Two museum employees with long poles were poking around in the desert shrubbery. I thought 'Rattlesnake!'

They told me they were after a devilishly tricky critter that was eating up all the delicate and rare lizards in a zoo exhibit - a roadrunner. They were not running a Roadrunner cafe so the bird was being coaxed into finding it's lunch elsewhere.

I was amused;The roadrunner in question, was not.

When I left, the bird was still reluctantly traveling three feet forward & two feet back, with the men and poles in pursuit.

The Museum was as nice as I remembered it to be, and as with my last visit, I discovered the free parking lot was as much fun for a birder as the pay-to-get-in facilities. When I left the park I meandered the parking lot, finding uncooperative photograph-wise Gambel's Quail, lots of Verdin (a desert tit) and a nice cooperative Curve-billed Thrasher.

I said the bird was cooperative. I did not say it wasn't cranky.
Next I visited the western half of Saguaro National Park, located just a jog up the road from the Museum. Half way there before it dawned on me (big DUH here) I was wrong thinking this was my first visit to the Saguaro. Should have realized if I visited the Sonora Desert Museum, would I have not visited Saguaro Park?  Despite my temporary brain strain, I enjoyed my brief park visit and drove its auto tour to view sweeping vistas of towering Saguaro cacti. I think I stared at a b'jillion holes in the cactus hoping for an Elf Owl to look back at me, but no such luck.

View from the Saguaro National Park's visitor center

Forest of Saguaro
I feel thirsty and hot just looking at this otherwise awesome scenery
After my scenic drive, I realized how wise I have been to keep my home away from deserts. The arid look and dusty feel leave me feeling drained just to look it all. I won't say I wasn't a tad disappointed that I didn't spot any new bird species, but this is only day one of my SE Arizona sojourn. Tucson isn't as far south or as far east as I intend to go. So after a pleasant afternoon, I drove off to where I am spending the next two nights, in the southeastern mountains, in the town of Sierra Vista. There I found a tiny & old but clean & cheap motel from which I will bird the area the next couple of days or more. Wish me luck!

The Cactus Wren is standing on Saguaro Cactus flower stalks.
Poor me! Those flower buds totally creep me out - look like pimples.


  1. WoW! beautiful instruments, you think they'd mind if I gather a few big ones for a few rainmakers. teehe