GO WEST YOUNG MAN (OR WOMAN)...
trip report to the Southwest
by Judi Veder and Saul Scheinbach
Maybe it is time to think of warmer places, to begin to think about spring or summer trips to warm the cockles of your hearts. This past summer, Saul and I flew in and out of Albuquerque, NM, rented a car and started on our birding odyssey. We saw over 140 species and added over 40 lifers to our list. I'm ready to go again!
Leaving Albuquerque, we went to Roswell (no aliens or birds) and then on to Bitterlake NWR, a hot, dry place where there were groups of Chihuahuan ravens, a first for us. We spent two days at Carlsbad Caverns, staying in Whites City, going into the park for the evening "performance" of the tens of thousands bats. We missed the early morning reentry of them. Ladderback woodpeckers were right outside the visitor's center. Nearby at Walnut Canyon preserve we scampered after scaled quail. At Rattlesnake Springs, not far, we saw beautiful vermilion flycatchers, roadrunners, kingbirds, chats, Bells vireo, Says phoebe and others. This little park was a good find. At Guadeloupe Ranch NP we took the Frijole Ranch walk (in the heat!) and learned about the area's human residents.
We then headed for El Paso, Tx. and futilely searched for Rosa's Cantina. It was too hot and crowded and so we stayed instead in a wonderful little town, Mesilla, back in N M. The next day we went to Rockhound State Park and Spring Canyon. I found talking to the black-haired man at the entrance desk in the park almost as interesting as the black-throated and black chinned sparrows and black-headed grosbeaks. Taking some easy and beautiful hikes, led us to elusive curved bill thrashers and many lark sparrows. From there we went into the Gila Hotsprings (there are accessible hotsprings), staying at a trailer park that had two motel accommodations and "zillions" of bombed by them. In the trees, there were lazuli buntings, acorn woodpeckers, lesser goldfinch, and white-breasted nuthatches. At the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument right near the motel, we learned about the Indians (and how not to avoid the afternoon thunderstorm.)
We read that there was a hummingbird banding demonstration the next morning and so we planned our day around that. It is worth finding out about. We got to hold a hummingbird in our hand and release it and to hear its heartbeat through a stethoscope. That night we stayed in Silver City and birded along the creeks and explored the old town.
We drove to Portal, Az. a birders' heaven, where we stayed, a one-motel, one dining room town. Had we stayed three days we would have stayed in the nearby Cave Creek Cottages and brought our own food. Here, other than the hummingbirds, and how can I dare say"other than the hummingbirds?"we saw, black headed grosbeaks, band tailed pigeons, white winged doves, pyrrhuloxia, yellow eyed juncos. Driving was hard in these areas, the roads full of ruts, especially with our rented car, but we managed to get to Rustler Park Recreation Area in the Chiricahua Mountains, which are gorgeous, to find Mexican chickadees, white and red breasted pygmy nuthatches and hermit warblers. At the Barfoot area we saw short-tailed and zone-tailed hawks with the help of two young men and their scopes. We did, yes, we did, get a glimpse of the all too elusive in August, elegant trogan, and clearly hear its call. Wherever we were, the "trogan had just left." But we entered the forest primeval and searched. We didn't see it again but along the road, we saw great western wood peewees, and a black-throated gray warbler.
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