Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Very Birdy Welcome to Tucson

After a five day cross-country excursion, I touched down in Tucson on Monday September 18th around 8pm. Got up early Tuesday morning intending to go for a quick walk around the area, however, on the way to my car to get out my sneakers, we spied a hummingbird and a Cactus Wren* which made us change plans, take the binoculars and go for a bird walk.

We walked up W. Broadway and spotted a Verdin* among the House Sparrows and House Finches. He stayed right out in the open for quite a few minutes so that both Jenn and I got good looks at him. We turned onto Shannon Road, we saw Lesser Goldfinch, Gila woodpecker, and Phainopepla*. Also saw many Mourning doves and one White-winged Dove. As we continued along Shannon Road, we heard a lot of clucking with at first we couldn’t identify. Pretty soon though we saw a Gambel’s Quail cross the road. Then we saw two more and then more and more in groups of three and four. It was an amazing sight! Again, we were allowed very close looks at many of them which was really great. That was 3 lifers within 30 minutes of my first morning in Tucson!

Later in the day, we drove to Mt. Lemmon. This ride is an experience unlike any other I’ve had. We started out with views of the Sonoran desert and then ascended into semi-arid desert grasslands, then oak forest, pine forest, and finally scrub pine forest. The temperature was probably 20 degrees cooler from bottom to top and the plant life changed just as dramatically. Birds of note were White-breasted Nuthatch (one of those I was bemoaning not seeing just a few days ago), Brown Creeper, Rock Wren, Red-tailed Hawk, and Turkey Vulture.

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