Friday, February 24, 2017

Dankworth Pond

Today we had the great good fortune of meeting the top birder in Graham County, Jeff Coker.   We left the campground at Roper Lake, early and traveled a few miles south to Dankworth Pond, a Arizona State Park Day Use Area.  Jeanette and I had a successful hour of birding, around the 15-acre pond and had just returned to the motorhome for a break, when a person came over and asked if he could look at the inside of our motorhome as he was interested in possibly purchasing one in a couple of years.  As we started to talk, he suddenly asked, "Are you Jim and Jeanette Scott"?  He had been watching our input on birding lists in eBird and guessed who we were.  He was here at Dankworth Pond to scout out the birds in preperation to lead a bird walk here tomorrow morning.  He invited us to come along on his morning scouting trip.  For the next two hours we were completely enmeshed in birding in general and the birds of Dankworth Pond in particular.  We have high hopes of keeping in touch as he shops for a van and we continue our birding passion.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

More on Roper Lake State Park

We are enjoying our stay at Roper Lake State Park so much.  Everyday we have explored a new area. Of course we love it for the birding.  Yesterday we turned in a list of 41 different species.  But other people appear to come here for an assortment of other reasons, the scenery, fishing, kayaking, biking, or just the camping experience. Below are four photos that I am sharing to try to give you and idea of the beauty of this park.

--and on the last day we found the outdoor hot tub.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Roper Lake State Park

Once again it appears we have fallen into a pot of jam.  We are loving it here at Roper Lake State Park.  While at Gilbert Ray Campground I was shearching for good birding spots where we could camp, when I stumbled on Roper Lake State Park. Not a place I knew anything about, but it did have a good number of observed species birds.  Driving here we learned it is located in the barren desert on the east side of Arizona, at the foot of Graham Mountain (shown in the background), and most importantly for birds and campers, it has the attraction of water--the man-made Roper Lake. The small town of Stafford lies six miles north in the Gila Valley. In campgrounds like this its easy to meet like minded new friends, which is our experience here.  Camping next to us was Doug Boser, who asked if he could tag aloung with us on our morning bird walk.  He was a great addition, a curious person, full of good questions that made our morning a delight. In the photo above, Doug is shown with Jeanette, looking for birds on one of the many trails we took. For our list of birds and photos click here.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Birds of Tucson Mountain Park

Looks like we have survived the storms of rain and wind of the last two days here in the Gilbert Ray Campgound in Tucson Mountain Park. We did bird every day of our four day stay, and although the birds are not numerous, we were able to identify 22 different species.  That's not a very high number for us considering the effort we put into it, but it is after all a desert without any water, and we did get in our daily exercise. The following photos are representive of what we saw.

male Costa's Hummingbird

male Gila Woodpecker

female American Kestrel

Cactus Wren

Northern Mockingbird

female Phaninopepla

Our next destination is Roper Lake State Park, with reservations from 2/21 to 2/24.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Gilbert Ray Campground

This past week I have been worrying about how to avoid the predicted storm of rain and high winds coming this weekend. There seemed to be no place to hide in California or Arizona, however Tuscon looked to have a lower percentage of wind and rain.  Our goal became getting to a campground where we could hunker down for a few days and avoid having to drive during the time of predicted 40 miles gusts. Early yesterday morning we left Yuma and fled across the Arizona desert to the Gilbert Ray Campground, south-west of Tucson.  We spent the whole morning driving with-out stopping to look for any birds.  Arriving at Gilbert Ray at noon we were extremely lucky to get one of the last four remaining camping sites out of 134, site #36 as shown above.  The other sites filled while we were setting up. We have fond memories of camping here ten years ago, so already know we will enjoy hiking and birding here. The campground is well maintained in a natural desert setting and a bargain at 20 dollars a night. We paid for four nights, and can stay an additional three.  The weather is starting to turn today, and the major wind and rain will be tomorrow, Saturday. We are happy to be able to just stay put.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Gila Woodpecker in the Sunset

For the past two days we have been the guests of our gracious hosts Ed and Joyce Dart at their winter place in The Foothills in Yuma.  They have a double lot with hook-ups, so it's been an easy place to park. They are long time friends that I grew up with in Lebanon, Oregon. Also living in the winter at The Foothills are Duane and Gwen Christiansen, another set of long time friends from Lebanon.  It's been great getting together and trying to remember other friends from the past.  The birds have been rather sparse, but tonight, which is our last night here, we got in a nice bird walk and found a birdy area and I was able to get this photo of a Gila Woodpecker in a palm tree lit by the orange light of a sunset.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Golden Acorn Casino

We left Dos Picos Park yesterday morning with the plan of traveling to another San Diego County Park, Lake Morena for a stay of a day or two.  However when we arrived we were surprised to find we had no cell phone service.  We checked with the Ranger Station, and there is only AT&T coverage.  No cell service is a deal breaker for us.  We depend on cell service for a major part of our daily life.  We use the Internet to log our daily bird observations, for posting my blog, our planning for RV destinations, route finding, the weather, the news, and contact with family and friends.  So, we decided to travel on. We had loaded fresh water before leaving Dos Picos and dumped the black and grey tanks, so we were good to explore, but we did need fuel.  We were told the best place for fuel was a the nearby Gold Acorn Casino on I-8.  Casinos mean a free place to park.  After getting fuel we looked over the parking lot and discovered there was space aplenty. Some casino lots are crowded and busy.  As you can see this one had lots of space and proved to be very quiet.  Being completely self contained its pretty easy to just park and relax for the afternoon and evening.  I thought I would take my valentine out for a prime rib dinner as advertised, but when she checked the reviews, she decided she would rather make dinner in the motor home.

 Even in a casino parking lot there are opportunities to observe birds. Here are some that I enjoyed.

 Common Ravin

California Thrasher

California Scrub-Jay