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Texas Hill Country & Storm-Chasing

Part 1:  Sweetwater Wetlands

I kept waking up all night and having weird dreams about Franklin Mountains State Park (!!!), so I ended up finally waking up later than I intended. I was a little nonplussed with myself at first, but it turned out fine because I forgot that Arizona doesn’t go on DST, so I actually got settled in here around 3:30, not 4:30! But it was a beautiful drive over; I splurged and got a cinnamon roll at the donut shop after dropping some movies off, and headed east without incident. I guess Burger King did away with their plain ol’ Double Cheeseburger, because I couldn’t find it on the menu and ended up getting a Double Whopper with Cheese (which was really way too much, especially since I was still full from the donut). Best bird on the drive over was a White-tailed Kite going over the Lagunas.

Rolled into Tucson around three (so I thought), so swung by the Sweetwater Wetlands and had a good exercise walk (and to pad the trip list J). It was actually rather nice to come here when it wasn't sweltering (which is usually when I happen to be there—in August), and although there was nothing unusual there, it was nice to see some old SE Arizona friends: Curve-billed Thrasher, Abert's Towhee, and Harris' Hawk to name a few.  Both Cinnamon and Blue-winged Teal were in the open water, along with lingering Shovelers and (I imagine) resident Ruddy Ducks.  The far sewer ponds had a couple of Western Sandpipers and a line of Snowy Egrets on the dike.  Several Gambel's Quail stood guard and ran around the mesquite; Yellow Warblers were all over, and had a single Bell's Vireo singing.  In among the cacophony of the grackles and Redwings was a Yellow-headed Blackbird!  Ran into another birder who said a Lazuli Bunting had been reported, but that one eluded me.

   

Entrance to the wetlands   

                                            

Yes, they even have Starlings here...  Abert's Towhee at right

         

Can you spot the Great-tailed Grackle (close-up in center) in this marsh?  At right is a lonely Harris’ Hawk

                                              

L-R:  "Northern" Mallard; usually it’s the "Mexican" Mallard that shows up in southeast Arizona!    Snoozing Ruddy Duck, and Gambel’s Quail playing guard

Headed to the Hampton Inn (which was only a couple of exits down) after that, checked in, got ice for the cooler, and was directed to a fabulous Mexican restaurant next door that had a wonderful piece of fish grilled in garlic!

Continue to the Desert Museum

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