Flagstaff Weekend
4-6 July 2008
 by Henry Detwiler

Suzanne and I dropped off Gaby at science camp, and then spent a weekend enjoying the cool forests of northern Arizona.

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FRIDAY, July 4, 2008

Lamar Haines Wildlife Area
Lamar Haines Wildlife Area

We drove up to Flagstaff on Friday morning, stopping at Montezuma's Castle for lunch. The weather up north was a welcome change from the heat of Yuma. Late that afternoon we visited the Lamar Haines Wildlife Area, along the road up to the San Francisco Peaks.

The beautiful landscape of firs, pines, and aspens was initially quiet, having just received an afternoon shower. But on the way out, the birds let loose with song, and we ticked off numerous Red-faced Warblers, Olive Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Mountain Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, flycatchers, Hermit Thrush, Dark-eyed Junco, and our only Williamson's Woodpecker for the trip.

red-faced warbler
Red-faced Warbler

Robber Fly

Fritillaries and Admirals were busy visiting the various seeps along the road and the many flowers in the meadows.

Northwestern Fritillary

SATURDAY, July 5, 2008

violet-green swallow
Violet-green Swallow

Ground Squirrel

After registering Gaby on Saturday morning, we once again headed up to the Arizona Snowbowl. A beautiful Mountain Bluebird greeted us at the parking lot. We debated starting off on the Kachina Trail, but the ominous thunderclouds dissuaded us.

Driving up to the ski lift parking lot, we also debated taking the lift up to 11,500', but about then the heavens opened up, and the weather turned cold and nasty. As we sought refuge in the coffee shop, the rain turned to hail, and the poor sight-seers on the 30-minute downhill ride were turned into popsicles.


We retreated downhill to better weather, hiking several of the beautiful trails in the Coconino National Forest. Broad-tailed Hummingbirds and Violet-green Swallows were just a couple of the neat forest birds that we encountered

flower and bee

We found a beautiful primitive campsite in the firs and aspens. Due to fire restrictions, Suzanne made us gourmet sandwiches for dinner. I'd been hoping for some owls that night, but it was totally quiet.

broad-tailed hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Sunflowers and other beautiful plants abounded, many of them visited by more fritillaries, an assortment of different-sized bees, tiny beetles, and giant horseflies.

Bee at Dalmation Toadflax

SUNDAY, July 6, 2008

clark's nutcracker
Clark's Nutcracker


Our first stop the next morning was the Kachina Trail, which we enjoyed by ourselves for a while. A small flock of Clark's Nutcrackers cried from the top of some firs; it was another "year" bird for me. Before long, though, the high altitude caught up with me--so feeling really puny, we headed down to the oxygen-rich Flagstaff environs.


At the Lowell Observatory we wandered around the grounds, enjoying the exhibits, butterflies, and birds. The pine and oak forest was hopping, and I picked up a number of new birds for the weekend: Grace's Warbler, Western Bluebird, Plumbeous Vireo, and Western Tanager


western bluebird
Western Bluebird

grace's warbler
Grace's Warbler

western tanager
Western Tanager

As we drove back to Yuma, we made our way through yet another wicked thunderstorm and some really nasty traffic. But the beautiful flowers, butterflies, cool weather, and excellent birds had made it all worthwhile.

Northwestern Fritillary

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