Friday, January 31, 2014

Getting WOWed by Nature in Tucson

Last year we spent a month in Tucson at Justin's Diamond J RV Park. This year we're spending a month right next door at the quirky, rustic Desert Trails RV Park. I'll get into details on this park when I do my review at the end of our stay, but for now let me just say this place is unique and very friendly.

Many of the sites at this park back up to lush Sonoran desert vegetation and we were fortunate to get one of those sites. Almost every RVer in this park sets up multiple bird feeders so birds of all types abound here. We've seen Sparrows and finches, hummers, quail, thrashers, pyhrruloxia, cardinals, phainopepla, owls, hawks, kestrels, road runners.

Our neighbors are close but they are friendly...the real bonus here is the desert vegetation behind our rig.

This very lightly used path behind our rig meanders to the park office and is full of birds.

Yesterday I had an amazing bird encounter...and foolishly did not have my camera at hand. I was sitting in my camp chair, Rosie on leash on another chair 3 feet across from me and I saw a road runner walk out from under our steps and slowly continue right in front of me! It paused, less than two feet away, and eyed Rosie's tail hanging off her chair. It puffed up its crest, showing a streak of bright orange along its cheeks, then sauntered on towards the garden. At this point Rosie saw it and was instantly on high alert determining if this bird was too big to bother with. We were both terribly excited by this of course; I ran for my camera and then we both had to sniff around hoping to see this beautiful bird again!

Our full timer friends, Mike and Keyna, are spending a week at the RV park next door so lots of hikes and dinners are on the agenda. Our first outing took us on the ~5 miles Starr Pass/Yetman Trail loop. This trail has nice variety, passing through a canyon where a couple of crested saguaros can be found and climbing to the top of a rocky ridge for views of Western Tucson.

This crested arm is a new find this year.




Hans and Mike on the trail with Cat Mountain in the background.

Keyna picks her way down the trail among colorful boulders.


Dinner at Mike and Keyna's.

The past couple of nights we heard owls nearby. This morning I was excited to hear them as daylight was breaking...perhaps with daylight I could get a decent photo. There are a couple of giant eucalyptus trees behind the park office and park regulars told us two owls were trying to take over a hawk nest. I witnessed some of this ongoing power struggle today.

Great horned owl sitting on the nest.

The second owl perched nearby.

One of the Coopers hawks that keep dive bombing the owls.



Lots of fun and excitement here in Tucson these days!



16 comments:

  1. Very nice crested saguaro sighting.

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    1. Thanks! Perhaps next week would be a good time to catch up with you guys...

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  2. Love that crested arm...very cool! The other crested saguaro was one of our first finds as we (I) began the search.

    What a lucky find! Two owls! That is a beautiful hawk. You are going to have great fun watching this nest battle.

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    1. Yep, I knew you would recognize the second crested!

      The owls are still there this afternoon. I guess they won today's battle for the nest!

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  3. You really are getting wowed by nature!

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    1. I'm a sucker for any animal or plant!

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  4. Love that desert landscape! We hiked that same trail last year and found the double crested, but not the crested arm. Very cool that you got some pictures of the owls. And the hawks look huge! Looks like you're enjoying your time in Tucson.

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    1. We're having an awesome time and it's only been a handful of days!

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  5. You are certainly back in your elements. We missed the desert landscape, so keep those great photos and hiking coming.

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  6. What beautiful pictures of the birds and flora. Too bad you missed a photo of the Roadrunner. I love Tucson where I used to live back in 1973 and these pictures are making me homesick. A friend recently gave me a copy of Barbara Kingsolver's "High Tide in Tucson" which I am currently reading. Oh, I think I need to visit Tucson soon and this is the perfect time. You are lucky to be enjoying the beautiful Sonoran desert this month!

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    1. I believe I read that book and that she described monsoon season...which I have not experienced. This time of year sure is gorgeous here!

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  7. Looks like desert heaven. The owls, hawks, and crested saguaros would delight me too.

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    1. There's nothing like wildlife and interesting flora to keep me enchanted!

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  8. What an awesome campsite to be backed up to nature. AND always keep that camera handy. Some of my best shots are when I'm not planning to shoot anything. Enjoy Tucson.... we'll be traveling through the end of February on our way back to Phoenix.

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    1. Perhaps our paths will cross...we leave here 2/28, then off to Catalina for a few nights, then Lost Dutchman, then Cave Creek; each for a few nights.

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