trip report to the Southwest
by Judi Veder and Saul Scheinbach

    As we continued to travel, and travel we did, 3,000 miles, we stopped to see the old hotel in the town of Douglas with its wonderful Tiffany windows. We stayed though in the copper mining town of Bisbee at the landmark Copper Queen Hotel, one of the only ones with a swimming pool, visited the museum which is part of the Smithsonian, took the tour of the mine and found out that we missed "the great black-out on the east coast". Our next place was Tombstone, which was hokey and fun, then onto Karchner Caverns, a new and wonderful cave that is a must see for a visit. We treated ourselves to two nights in the Casa San Pedro B & B in Sierra Vista, which by the summer of 2004 will have a swimming pool to add to its delicious breakfasts, rooms, flowers, and afternoon and evening pies and sweets.     

    This was the beginning of "hummingbird heaven" for us. This is where local people set up feeders and viewing stations. We saw 11 hummingbirds-broad-tailed, violet-crowned, blue-throated, magnificent, Lucifer's, black-chinned, Anna's, Costa's, Calliope, broad billed, and the rufous. For our tour in Ramsay Canyon with The Nature Conservancy, we got up early. If you go, plan to be there for their guided walks. We not only learned about the area, but also saw an hepatic tanager, bridled titmouse, plumbeous vireo, sulphur-bellied flycatcher, and the hummingbirds. After that we tried going to Miller's but the rough road deterred us and we went instead to Mary-Jo's. Sitting at her feeders (in the heat) for about 40 minutes, rewarded us with Lucifer's and Costa's hummingbirds, which we added to our list numbering 11 by the end of the trip. We returned to the B and B and hired a local guide to take us to Ft. Huachuca where we hoped to find owls in the evening. We didn't. Later that night, we heard the whiskered owl. The guide feeling badly set up his scope and gave us (expensive) a look at Mars!   

     The next day's adventure was to the San Pedro House Preserve. It was hot and dry and in our futile search for a green kingfisher we found instead that we had "chigger" bites all over us. They didn't appear for several days, though, but we knew they were from hiking in this grassy area. So if you go, remember to take precautions. We scratched our way to Sierra Vista and Patagonia. In a place called Gardiner Canyon, along the road, there were bridled titmice and rufous crowned sparrows. We also discovered the weather phenomenon known as the monsoons. We waited out these rains to go to the feeders at the Patton's and had the pleasure of seeing Inca doves and hummingbirds again. After two nights, still tending our wounds, we headed into Green Valley, a retirement community, and stocked up on food for our stay in Madera Canyon's Santa Rita Lodge. The spring is a far better time to bird here (reservations needed then) but even in the summer it was worth coming. We saw many lizards, a coati, moths, and a rainstorm that filled the creeks for the first time in 3 years. On an early morning walk, we didn't see the trogan although some others "just" had; we saw Hutton's vireo, olive warbler, Strickland's woodpecker, brown-crested flycatcher and a great sunset and many butterflies whose names I no longer recall. We drove back to the Patagonia area to go into the Patagonia-Sonoita Preserve on a day when it was open, saw a grey hawk adult and juvenile, and got a good look at a chat. We also learned more about chiggers since this place was rife with them.



    On the way to Tuscon we stopped at Saguaro NP to see all the cacti varieties and a family of sleeping javelinas. We found a wonderful and inexpensive motel from the 1950's called the Ghost Ranch, with a great pool and a cactus garden and loved our meal at Café Poca Casa and even stayed an extra day. From here, we visited the Sonoran Desert Museum, well worth it even in the heat, learning from one of the guides all about the flora, fauna, history of the areas. We went back at night for one of the night walks, but the monsoon with thunder and lightening forced us to stay and eat more in the restaurant at the zoo (not great!). We still had more time on this trip but the main birding part was really over. 



It would be towns and Indian sites like Montezuma Castle and the adjoining Sinaqua Petroglyphs (a great find), Wupati Ruins, Sunset Crater/Volcano National Monument and Canyon de Chelly National Monument with its wonderful hikes to cliff dwelling Indian ruins. We returned to NM and Gallup, Zuni Pueblo, Santa Fe, Taos, and back to Albuquerque. In the Las Vegas, NM at the Las Vegas NWR near Albuquerque we did get to add the clay-colored sparrow and Harlan's red-tailed hawk to our list. The only other singers and warblers left were the Mariachis in the old Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, a town worth visiting.

    If you need other information about this trip, contact us at judisaul@aol.com.

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