Sunday, January 13, 2019

Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson-AZ

All set up in a new location at the Gilbert Ray Campground. It is county operated and located in the desert just west of Tucson. RV sites are $20 a night and all have 30 amp electric hookups. There are very well maintained restrooms with flush toilets. No showers available but they have lots of potable water spigots thru out the camp and a waste water dump. Here is a link to their website: Gilbert Ray Campground Some of the campsites are a bit close but there is cacti and brush between each giving a bit of privacy.

The campground is encircled by mountains. Some very close like these and others are in the distance.

All afternoon, airliners flew above the mountains in the lower picture, low enough that I can conclude they were landing nearby. I will venture out to some birding hot spots in Tucson tomorrow and pick up a few groceries!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Desert Wildflowers

This being only my second snowbird trip to the area, I am not familiar with the usual weather. Last year I had no rain days while here but this year I have had about 12! One benefit is that I am getting to see a lot of blossoming wildflowers. I do not know their names but here are some pics of them!

As you can see, a good variety of shapes and colors. Most are small, not more than one inch across. There are also lots of pollinators like bees and butterflies. I'll save those pics for another day!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Painted Rocks Campground, Gila Bend-AZ

Left Yuma area early this morning and am headed to the Tucson area. About the half way point is the Painted Rocks campground that is 12 miles off the interstate. It is a large flat gravel area with 59 campsites. It is very quiet and has great vistas as there are mountains on 3 sides. It is a primitive campground with no power, water or waste dump. It does have two pit toilets that are very well maintained. Cost is $8 per night but only $4 with my Federal senior pass.

The campgrounds is known for the small rocky hill that has hundreds of Petroglyphs.

They claim many of the markings were made by native Americans who lived along the Gila River just a mile north from here. Others were made by early travelers such as the Spanish explorers that worked their way north from Mexico to the San Francisco Bay area. Later the Butterfield Stage line ran thru here taking passengers from Missouri to California in just 23 days! Aren't we spoiled! In the early days the Gila river flowed full and free, offering sheltering trees and game to all who passed. Now the river is a fraction of it original size due to damming and the routing of the water for agricultural purposes. One of the joys of traveling is getting to learn the history of various parts of our great country! I am glad I stopped here!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Mittry Lake

I have been at Mittry Lake for the last week. It is just outside of Yuma near Senator Wash. Camping is free for 10 days per calendar year. There is camping all around the lake. You can camp out in the desert of right beside the lake. There is a pit toilet near the main boat ramp with several dumpsters for trash nearby it. I chose a spot among the trees a bit back from the water.

It is about 15 miles to town with easy access to shopping and gas/propane. There is good birding along the lake and in the adjoining marshes. I have found a place among the reeds that I can sit and watch birds pass by pretty much unnoticed. I spotted this Least Bittern slipping across an opening in the reeds!

I have also seen Sora and rails crossing the same spot. They are very stealthy so I have not been able to get a pic of either species! Today I was able to get a pic of some Cinnamon Teal!

My 10 days are about up so I am trying to decide where to go next. Currently this is the warmest area in the state so I am hesitant to go far!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Rails at Cibola NWR

Rails are a very elusive species! They live in marshy areas and stay hidden among the vegetation. Most often they are reported as "heard" but not seen. I was extremely lucky this week to see and get pics of several rail species in the Cibola NWR. I parked along side a small marsh that bordered one of the roads. The vehicle works as a blind so the birds mostly ignore you as long as you don't move and stay in your rig. These pics are the result of sitting for 4 hours over 2 days and scanning the vegetation line! The first pic is of a Ridgeway's Rail.

The second is a Virginia Rail. It has much shorter legs and some coloring differences.

Another challenging species to see is the Sora. It is the smallest of the three species.

To see a complete list of today's birds and pics of other species, click here: Rails and other birds list

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Woke up feeling a little homesick this morning but then

I walked up the hill and looked at the horizon. As the sun warmed my back, the sadness melted away and was replaced with gratefulness for the opportunity to enjoy the warmth and beauty of the southwest!

I continued on and had a great birding morning. Soon I spotted a juvenile Bald Eagle sitting high in a poplar tree.

Just bit further and there were two raccoons scampering along the beach headed for cover!

Out on the lake I saw three Common Loons which are rare for this location and time of year. Two were colored as I would expect like the one below.

The third one looked quite a bit different. I am not sure if this is a normal molt or if it is leucistic.

To see a complete list of todays' birds and more pics, click here: Senator Wash ebird list

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Christmas Light Parade

The weather here is sunny skies and temps in the 40's at night and 70's during the day so it does not feel like that time of year but last night we were treated to a Christmas Light parade right thru camp! I cannot load the video to the blog but here are a couple video captures!

What a great surprise! This morning I went birding at Mittry Lake just a few mile from camp. I have been trying to ID a Ridgeway Rail as it would be a life bird but so far no luck. I did see many other birds and got a great pic of a Northern Harrier!

To see a few more pics and a complete list of the species I did ID, click here: Mittry Lake ebird list

Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson-AZ

All set up in a new location at the Gilbert Ray Campground. It is county operated and located in the desert just west of Tucson. RV sites ar...