I left Big Bend and drove Northwest and then West, pointed towards Arizona. I couldn't pass Saguaro NP without stopping to get my passport stamped, and managed to pick up Bullock's Oriole and Gilded Flicker along the way.
Near the border, the I-10 was closed due to dust storms. I could see the wall of blowing sand miles down the highway, like the scene from The Mummy. Luckily, with a little 3G I was able to find an alternate route- 40 miles of dirt roads later, I pulled into Portal, Arizona to enjoy a beautiful sunset on a road left only to my Subaru to explore.
I had left nearly a hundred cars in a little New Mexican town, flooding the Love’s truck stop, and probably eating Arby’s out of burgers. I on the other hand, drove up the winding road into Barefoot Park, a National Forest site high in the sky islands of southeastern Arizona. When I woke up the next morning, I hoped to hear Mexican Chickadee calling. It ended up being a little tricker than that, and i had to put in the hours, but managed to pick up that bird along with some others along the way.
I had 30+ birds I still needed in the area, but nothing i couldn’t find later in the year, so I opted to head west to Sierra Vista and try for harder birds like Lucifer Hummingbird. My impeccable timing placed me at a well-known bed and breakfast, and having made my donation, two Lucifer hummingbirds showed up to snack on the flowers and feeders in fine style. I was a little challenged with the ID, because I didn’t want to confuse Calliope, but the female was unmistakable, and the male I managed to get several iPhone shots of the male, who just flew in and I started photographing without really studying him in my bins.
LUCIFER HUMMINGBIRD, ASH CANYON BED AND BREAKFAST
MEXICAN SPOTTED OWL
This endangered owl species is probably easier to find in Arizona then it is to find Northern Spotted Owl in Washington, but I wanted to see both subspecies and write a little blog post comparing the two. Compared to all the hiking i’d been doing, the hike up for Mexican Spotted Owl was tame. I left a donation too at this spot, and wished that I had been able to interview Tom Beatty for the Birding Project. Maybe on my return trip later in the summer.