Fridays have lately been designated as "Emily's Day", which means Barry doesn't ride his bike, and I get to choose the day's activities. Woo-hoo! Last Friday I picked separate morning and afternoon activities since we wanted to get back to the house at lunchtime to watch the UNC Tarheels play in the ACC tournament. (Unfortunately, they lost their game; the only low spot in an otherwise fantastic day.)
Less than two miles down a back road from where we're staying in Patagonia, Arizona is the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, a Nature Conservancy "Important Bird Site" as well as an area rich in biodiversity courtesy of the riparian habitats along Sonoita Creek. So, of course we had to check it out. And on a beautiful morning, what better way to get there but on foot.
The hummingbirds were active this morning as we walked along the road. This one appears to be a male Anna's.
It took us quite awhile to get to the preserve as we saw plenty of birds while walking so made numerous stops.
We had never seen Broad-Billed Hummingbirds before coming to southern Arizona. The male is incredibly striking, with his cobalt throat and turquoise/green breast! As is often the case in the bird world, the female is more muted in color.
Map in hand, we then headed out on the trails in search of more birds.
The centerpiece of the preserve, Sonoita Creek, actually has flowing water here, while it's simply a dry wash in town this time of year. According to the brochure, there is five miles of perennial flow in the creek, two miles of which are in the preserve. Watercress and other greenery grows in the creek, providing a much-needed (and endangered) resource in such a dry part of the country. The host told us we might see javelinas eating watercress, but unfortunately we did not.
The cottonwood trees along the creek are massive in size and very impressive. According to the link above:
"The preserve protects a magnificent example of the rare Fremont cottonwood-Goodding willow riparian forest. Some of the trees are among the largest (more than 100 feet tall) and oldest (130 years old) Fremont cottonwood trees in this country. "
To put the tree's size in context, just look at how big this trunk is compared to me!
We saw plenty of birds in the preserve and added two new ones to our life lists: Bridled Titmouse and Bell's Vireo.
We could have spent much longer at the preserve, but since we wanted to get home for part of the game, we left. We will definitely get there another time while our pass is valid, though.
On the way back, we stopped in at the the Paton House, aka "Hummingbird Haven". This is a residential home in Patagonia with a yard absolutely filled with bird feeders of all types and thus a perfect area to see birds. The former owners, Wally and Marion Paton, loved feeding and watching birds, and invited one and all to come into their yard to watch any time. The Patons have now passed away, but the house was recently purchased jointly by several birding organizations and is maintained as a bird sanctuary. What a wonderful legacy left for us -- and the birds -- to enjoy!
We added a couple of new birds to our life lists here, including the Violet-Crowned Hummingbird (below) and Lazuli Bunting.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Funday Friday, where we head up the road to Sonoita to visit a couple of wineries!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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