Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sonoran Desert

As we drove north out of Patagonia, again on our circuit around the Santa Rita Mountains we came to a Border Patrol checkpoint. We were asked if we were American citizens, and where we had been. When we explained we'd been birding the Border Patrol agent asked if we'd been to the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve. I guess "yes" was the correct answer, because he allowed us to pass.

We arrived at the Gilbert Ray campground, in the Tucson Mountain Park, near the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Saguaro National Park around dusk, but it was still hot and sultry. Here's a Curve-billed Thrasher atop a Saguaro in the last light of the day.

We pitched our tent and walked around in the evening air, happy that the sun had set.

This Desert Cottontail was enjoying the cooler temperatures, too ... by cooler, I'm meaning maybe 90 degrees or something. A Roadrunner ran by, but was gone before I ever thought to raise a camera or binoculars. I guess it had places to go.

There were many other kinds of cactus growing there, not just Saguaro.

As we walked back to our campsite, past the campground's well-lit entry booth, about a dozen Lesser Nighthawks were circling and feasting on the insects attracted by the lights. By then it was too dark for photos.

True to form, the next morning I was up before the sun. (What can I say, I thought I heard an owl.) And, the Lesser Nighthawks were still awake at that dawn hour.

The Black-throated Sparrows were up and about, too. Everybody was singing as they awoke.

I'm not sure of the temperature, but I'd describe it as hot, before the sun rose.

As the sun came over the horizon, I could finally clearly see all the cactus that lived here.

And, in the morning light I spied my first Cactus Wren. This is one large wren!

And, the Saguaro were in bloom!

Atop many of the Saguaros a bird would feast on the pollen and nectar. This is a White-winged Dove, but the Thrashers and Gila Woodpeckers were everywhere enjoying the morning meal as well.

Here's our campsite. We quickly took down the tent, as Cyndi put it, "before it gets hot." Yeah, right, too late for that.

Far away in the distance a bird sat atop a Saguaro. I had to get closer, and closer. It looked a lot like a Cardinal ... but with a yellow bill! Yay! At last, the Pyrrhuloxia.

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