Going home for the holidays can be quite challenging for some. For me, it doesn’t happen often enough, so I was thrilled when family invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them in California, my home state. Not only would it be a joy to catch up with loved ones, but there was the additional excitement of birding in a different location and the possibility of adding new birds to my life list.
We found ourselves nearly alone in the Quail Loop section of Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona recently, the heat, rain and humidity no doubt leaving most campers seeking cooler climes. Gone were the wintering ducks we saw when we visited the park in January, but there were still plenty of other birds around to feed my obsession.
When my birding buddies, Susan and Brian, came up with the idea of a four-day, 1,400+ mile birding odyssey across Arizona, targeting nine VSBs (Very Special Birds), I didn’t bat an eye. I didn’t even hesitate. Did we get our birds, you ask? Read on to find out….
I’ve written about the Chiricahua Mountains before, about how this mountain range that rises suddenly out of the southeast Arizona desert like an island and is, in fact, the largest of what are known as Sky Islands. I’ve talked about the birds, animals and plants that thrive nowhere else in the U.S. But with each visit to this unique area, I see, hear, feel something new that adds to my love of the place. It’s like hanging another jeweled charm from a favorite bracelet that holds cherished memories of special trips.
I am not an avid birder. I’m a rabid birder. My deep dive into serious birding last year propelled me into the orbit of two dedicated and knowledgeable birders, who think nothing of driving halfway across the state of Arizona in pursuit of an uncommon bird.
Nothing seems to last forever, but sometimes the loss of something so wonderful, spurs growth and leaves you open to exploring new possibilities. Such was the case on our recent visit to one of our favorite spots in Lake Havasu.
A long-held belief among people who don’t know Arizona is that we only have one season – one long summer of searing heat. I’m here to tell you they’re wrong.
With colorful fields of wildflowers, the haunting call of coyotes at dusk, an elk stag party and a near total solar eclipse, this trip was beyond my wildest dreams….
Dizzying heights. Gravity-defying balancing acts. Leaps over yawning crevasses. Flights from sheer cliffs of living color. If this sounds like a circus act, you would only be partially right.