Chiricahua Mts. & Southeast AZ
27 Sep - 1 Oct 2007
 by Henry Detwiler

Jim and I spent four excellent days in the mountains of Southeast Arizona searching for birds, bugs, and beasts.
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos.
Click here to see the trip bird list (161 species)


On Sunday morning we hightailed it to Whitewater Draw. This picturesque site includes multiple lakes and riparian corridors. We had fine looks at waterfowl, dragonflies, damselflies, and many more bugs. A Northern Harrier almost collided with us as it quartered the marsh in search of food.

Plateau Spreadwing


The surrounding fields were alive with sparrows, Lark Buntings, and dozens of Swainson's Hawks of every age and color phase. At one point a flock of 30 birds was cicling overhead.

.Swainson's Hawk
Swainson's Hawks


Swainson's Hawk
Swainson's Hawk

 Anna's Hummingbird
Anna's Hummingbird

Our next stop was Miller Canyon in the Huachuca Mts. At the Beatty's B&B we watched dozens of Anna's Hummingbirds, a few new damselflies, and a number of the endangered Chiricahua Leaopard Frogs. Note that this frog has its eye on a small bug atop the water plant.

Leopard Frog
Chiricahua Leopard Frog


At the mouth of Ash Canyon we visted with Mary Jo and watched her feeders for Lucifer Hummingbirds. We missed those little curve-billed hummers, but did see (or hear) Montezuma Quail, Mexican Jay, Arizona Woodpecker, and Scott's Oriole.

Mexican Jay
Mexican Jay

Yellow-eyed Junco
Yellow-eyed Junco
A run up to Sawmill Canyon proved to be very productive. I whisted in a large flock of mountain birds: Hepatic Tanager, Plumbeous & Cassin's Vireos, nuthatches, creepers, Yellow-rumps, and Grace's Warbler. Farther on, we found a flock bathing in a coule of creek puddles: a pair of Cassin's Finches, a Painted Redstart, Yellow-eyed Junco, and more Bridled Titmice.

The butterflies in Garden and Sawmill Canyons were awesome, dominated by the showy California Sisters.

California Sister
California Sister


A light but steady rain convinced us to head back to the Pathfinder, but not before Jim spotted this young Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake slithering through the grass. It is one of three small rattlesnakes that live in the mountains of SE Arizona, and the only variety that we managed to see on this trip.

In the grasslands below the canyons we braked for this large gopher snake as it crossed the road. It did a fair amount of hissing and was not in a mood to be picked up.

gopher snake
Gopher Snake

Gopher Snake head
Gopher Snake, Ft Huachuca


On Monday morning the skies were dark and threatening. We hiked around the San Pedro House and down to the San Pedro River. The area was alive with birds, and we spotted a number of Gree-tailed Towhees, serveral Lawrence's Goldfinches, a Vermilion Flycatcher, and scad of sparrows. But the best two birds here (and perhaps on the whole trip) were two Dickcissals--grassland birds from the Midwest.

After saying goodbye to Jim back in Tucson, I continued on to Kitt Peak. The entrance road was remarkably birdy, with singing Rufous-winged Sparrows, Gilded Flickers, and a Gray Flycatcher among many others. As the afternoon wore on, I added a few more birds and saw a lot more desert scenery--arriving back in Yuma around 7:00 pm. It had been a fantastic nature-filled four-day weekend.

Rufous-winged Sparrow
Rufous-winged Sparrow

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