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Arizona Thanksgiving

Part 2: Chiricahua National Monument

Had an absolutely gorgeous morning up there; I basically stopped every half mile along the road going in, and as expected had the most birds early in the morning; the place was hopping with juncos (with Oregon, Pink-sided, and Gray-headed all represented), plus Chipping Sparrows, Spotted and Green-tailed Towhees, and a Gambel's Quail calling from the open area.  It was pretty nippy first thing, and as the morning went on things got more quiet; one of the better stops was at the Natural Bridge trailhead where a Townsend's Warbler came in along with the Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Hermit Thrushes.  Mexican Jays were all over, and an Arizona Woodpecker laughed at one pullout.

 

           

Scenes at Faraway Ranch during a potty stop, with a White-tailed Deer

  Up near the top the views were spectacular, and Western Bluebirds came in and put on a show, teeing up on the junipers!  No Mexican Chickadees this time (the trails were actually very quiet with the exception of the juncos), but picking up both Scrubbies and Steller's near the top made it a three-jay day!  Massai Point was gorgeous (as usual), and this time I took the time to read all the plaques, and actually learned something about the history of the place! Probably the most fascinating part was Cochise Head; I had never noticed it before reading about it! The Sugarloaf Trail had a very curious Canyon Wren come in to pishing.  The butterflies were starting to move by the time I finished the Echo Canyon Trail; most of them wouldn't stay put, but saw a Lady of some kind, a nice male Orange Sulphur, and a cooperative Gray Hairstreak.

      

View with Western Bluebird

   

Road to the Sugarloaf Mountain trailhead

           

Massai Point, with Sulphur Springs Valley in the background.  The Massai Point Nature Trail is paved, and hosted a Butterbutt!

       

Area where early settlers were massacred by local Indians, along with a balancing rock

       

Spiny Lizard of some kind along the Sugarloaf Trail

Birds along the trail...

            

"Pink-sided" Junco (left) with two "Gray-headed" Juncos

                                          

Hermit Thrush, Canyon Wren, and a probable Marine Blue

       

Scenes along the Echo Canyon Trail

   

Cochise Head (can you pick out his profile?)

            

Sugarloaf Mountain from the Echo Canyon Trail, along with two Gray Hairstreaks

Headed down the hill and hiked the trail at the visitor's center, which except for a group of jays that flocked in to say hello at the resting spot was really quiet; not even a Painted Redstart (which I usually pick up here)!  Again, the butterflies were taking over, including several new ones: had a Mexican Yellow, and these "miniature ladies" were bouncing around; I suspected they might be Snouts, and finally one stopped long enough to give me a confirming look!  The parking lot was alive with leps, and across the street was one lonely little bush with a few purple flowers where Sleepy Oranges were fighting over them, and a knockout Southern Dogface went bouncing by at close range, giving a great view of his "poodle-wing"!  But the strangest thing was a flock of bugling Sandhill Cranes overhead!

          

Trail at the visitor’s center with Mexican Jays

                

Two similar butterflies: the Mexican Yellow (left) and the Sleepy Orange (right); note the difference in the wing shape!   

                       

More Sleepy Oranges, those in the center giving a rare glimpse of their upperwing!  On the right is an American Snout; notice the long nose!

Headed down to Faraway Ranch after that, where with the exception of a few Chipping and Lincoln's Sparrows, the place was really dead (except for the butterflies).  I had to get going to Sierra Vista anyway to check in, then meet my friends Judy and Earl Pike for dinner!  So I took the back way along US 191 through Tombstone, and picked up Ferruginous Hawk and Lark Buntings. 

Continue to San Pedro & Saguaro NP

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