Thursday, January 29, 2015

So Long Lovebirds

This morning we are saying good-by to the Rosy-faced Lovebirds of Usery Mountain Regional Park. We had a lot of these birds around our campsite last night when I took this photo, kind of special for our last night here.  This is definitely a campground we want to return to and explore some more.  The plan for the day is to cross back over Phoenix to the west side.  Our base for the night will be the Walmart in Surprise on Greenway.  We have an appointment in the parking lot to repair a rock chip in the windshield, and Jeanette will be stocking up on groceries in preparation for our three night stay at Lake Pleasant Regional Park.  Not all Walmart's allow over-night parking, in fact in the greater Phoenix area this is one of the few.  I called last week to verify with the manager that it was OK, and she told me we would have to shut down the party by ten o-clock.  Ha, ha, I had no problem giving her my word on that.  I liked her sense of humor.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Birds Galore

This Northern Cardinal male was the first bird we spotted when we stepped out of our RV for a morning of birding at Phon D. Sutton Recreation Area today. It might of have been a good omen of the hours ahead, and the wide range of birds we would see, 36 different species in all.  Phon D. Sutton is basically a couple of asphalt parking lots located along the Salt River in the Tonto National Forest, East of Scottsdale Arizona. I have to say the name struck me as a bit unusual, but our whole experience was a bit unusual. First off, I found this park by looking at birding Hot Spots on satellite maps.  Seeing a number of RV's parked in the lots clued me into investigating this location for a possible overnight stay. We were in need of a place to stay as we only had a one-night stay in site #38. However when we left the Buckhorn Campground this morning I checked at the Entrance Station and they had evidently had a cancellation, so we took it, site #10, our third sight in three nights. As I rethink our day what strikes me as the most unusual was the trashy condition of the Salt River.  Evidently hordes of people from the greater Phoenix area use this river, my understanding is to tube, and the resulting pop and beer cans make this section look like a trash dump.  Never the less, I tried my best to over look this and concentrate on the great number of birds.  We were able to add twenty new birds to my Maricopa County Bird List. Will we be back?  Well, the cost to camp is three dollars a night with a Tonto Pass and Senior Pass, and there are birds galore. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Update from Buckhorn Family Campground

This is site #47 in the Buckhorn Family Campground where we are staying in the Usery Mountain Regional Park. We got out the door this morning at 8:30 for our bird walk under threatening skies. Although is was quite overcast we identified a quick ten birds before we noticed an empty camping site.  We thought we were going to have to vacate our campsite by noon today and move to the overflow camping for another night.  We made a quick walk to the Entrance station and found it was indeed available, so now we are set for one more day here.  Our new sight number will be #38.The forecasted rain of last night did happen, but this morning looked a little dryer, but while we were at the Entrance Station it started raining.  We made a fast retreat back to the motorhome, and as you can see in the lower photo are quite comfortable.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Loving Usery Mountain Park

This is a Lovebird that I photographed on this morning's bird walk.  Known as a Rosy-faced Lovebird, or in some guide books as a Peach-faced Lovebird, this member of the Parrot Family is found in good numbers here in the Usery Mountain Regional Park. They are small birds of only six and a half inches from head to tail. Native to Africa they were escaped caged birds that now have established feral populations.  This was a new addition to our Life List as well as a Harris Hawk which we also identified today. In all we had a good list of 19 species.  

After lunch we were able to move into camping site #47.  It is only available for this one night, so tomorrow night we will probably stay in the overflow parking lot again.  It was easy to stay last night in the overflow lot, and we are loving this park so much that we plan on staying several days. A 3,500 acres, and close to 30 miles of trails, we still have some area to cover. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Overflow Camping

We left our campsite in the White Tank Mountains this morning to flee across the metropolis of the Greater Phoenix Area, from the western edge to the eastern edge, to Usery Mountain Regional Park. Our greatest hope was for good cell service for Internet service. which is the only criticism we had of the White Tank Mountains.  We stopped in Mesa for laundry, lunch, groceries and diesel. However when we arrived at Usery we found they were full.  They did not have a site available until tomorrow, but they would allow us to camp in the overflow lot for the reduced rate of $12. Of course to guarantee the site for tomorrow we would need to pay the $8 reservation fee on top of the $30 campsite fee.  Actually we were just fine with all that, because we are "self-contained", and we have adequate water and electricity for several days, and our two day total is ten dollars less. We are just relieved to have a quiet spot to put down after escaping the madness of Phoenix. and most important, we have excellent cell service to allow us to continue our life on the Internet.  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ironwood Trail Hike

Left to right are Peggy and Larry Anderson, my wife Jeanette Scott and my sister Kathy Jobes.  Larry and I have been friends since the seventh grade.  He and his wife live in Wichita Kansas and while visiting family in Arizona are staying a week with my sister Kathy in Sun City.  Kathy brought Larry and Peggy out to our campsite in White Tank Mountains Regional Park yesterday and we went for a hike, using the Ironwood Trail and a section of the Ford Creek Trail to make a two mile loop.

Jeanette and I are continuing to enjoy the desert scenery, the abundant sunshine and a fascinating population of birds. For example this Gilded Flicker was the first bird of the day that caught our attention with his rat-a-tat-tat on our electrical box yesterday morning. This is a spring mating ritual for male flickers, which tells me Spring is starting here in Arizona.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Camped in the White Tanks

After two nights parked on the curb in Sun City, yesterday we moved to a campground in the White Tank Mountain Regional Park.  Campsites here now have both water and electricity with a dump station available. We payed for three nights at $30 a night, but when you  take into consideration that the previous four nights were free, our average is less than $15 a night. Our site is just a couple of sites away from the Ironwood Trail which gives access to a vast network of a dozen other trails in the park. Cell service is very poor here so I am only downloading one of the three photos I intended to use, one of which showed the setting sun reflected off of the skyscrapers in downtown Phoenix last night.
(Added later when good Internet was available)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Great Horned Owl

We have been parked on the curb in Sun City for the last two days, and during that time we have walked a good deal around the area and kept our eyes out for birds.  The most interesting sighting, hands down, has been this Great-horned Owl, and it was right in my brother Marks’s court yard. The first night my sister-in-law Holly showed us the the nest and an owl in their court yard tree, but it was too dark to get a photo.  Yesterday mid-day we got a better look, and I was able to get this photo.  This is probably the male who is standing guard close by with the female on the nest.  Great-horned Owls start nesting in January much earlier than most other birds. Mark and Holley will have a great opportunity with this nesting pair right in their front court yard to keep track of developments and watch for the chicks.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Waterfall Canyon Hike

Waterfall Canyon Traihead

Yesterday we moved from Surprise to Sun City to be able to visit with my brother Mark and wife Holly, and my sister Kathy and husband Gary, and visiting friends Larry & Peggy Anderson. We are parked curbside in the street, which is supposed to be legal for 72 hours. In the afternoon Mark & Holly took us for a picnic and hike in the White Tank Mountains. There are lots of trails to hike in this regional park, but for my introductory hike Mark suggestion the Water Fall Canyon Hike. Every one else hiked this trail last year, and were sure I would like this one and they were right.  I got a short but interesting list of birds, two or which were Lifers for me, Arizona Towhee, and Curve-billed  Thrasher. After the hike we checked out the campground, which we now have our eye on for our next stop.   

Spring at the end of the Water Fall Canyon Trail

Monday, January 19, 2015

Birding at Surprise Community Park

We are spending two nights at Jeanette's sister Patty's house in Surprise Arizona, and took advantage of the opportunity to bird at their city park this morning. The park is a huge complex for a great variety of sports, but I was particularly drawn to the pond area which sees a lot of use from walkers, dog lovers, and anglers.    

We made a couple of laps around the pond and came up with a bird list.  There were lots of birds, however not a huge variety. One species that I would not have expected to find was the Greater White-fronted Goose as shown below. 

Plus there was this Rock Pigeon that from the look in his eye might have had an attitude problem.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Birding at Lake Havasu State Park

The photo shows Jeanette and our friend John West at the cactus garden during our morning of birding.  We had a fantastic time birding on the Sunset Trail with a great list of 32 different species. We met John here at the cactus garden two years ago through birding and we have kept in contact and enjoyed birding and hiking together not only in Arizona but also this past summer in Oregon.  We are having a couple of great days here at Lake Havasu. The park is overflowing with a Volkswagon event called Busses by the Bridge as well as the Ballon Fest going on in the city. The park staff has been very gracious to allow us to use an empty host site. Its been a great lay-over day with no driving and an opportunity to hike the familiar trails and check out the birds with our good friend John.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sunset at Lake Havasu State Park

This sunset over Lake Havasu was a welcome sight tonight for our first night back in Arizona. We arrived in Lake Havasu City this afternoon after some perilous days in the fog in the San Joaquin Valley and a long drive across the desert.  We are now set up in the campground at Lake Havasu State Park, and after many welcoming comments, feel quite at home. The last few days have been extra stressful to me because my new Mac Book Pro, which I considered bullet proof, stopped working a few days ago, leaving me completely in limbo for being able to post a blog.  An even more immediate problem was not being able to search the Internet with computerized campground and RV park search programs.  Yesterday afternoon while camped at Calico Ghost Town I contacted an Apple help line and after a series of things they determined that my drive would have to be erased, the operating system deleted, and a new operating system downloaded and installed.  After many hours all that was accomplished and I now have an operating laptop, sans all the photos, and programs like Photoshop, Microsoft Word, Excel, & Powerpoint. So tonight's post is an attempt to create blog post with out the tools I usually use. So far so good. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dos Reis County Park

We are hold-up this morning here at Dos Reis County Park waiting for the fog to clear.  The photo, showing the San Joaquin River here, is not mine but one I got from the park’s web page. We drove here yesterday from Pleasanton where we had spent the last two nights.  When we arrived here yesterday afternoon we were pleased to find our friends Dan & Elaine Scott in a site.  Besides having the same last name in common, we both have Winnebago View motorhomes.  We always enjoy meeting up and camping with them and talking of RVs and campgrounds. Dos Reis campground is a favorite of ours, and one we have been using since discovering it ten years ago. Although prices have gone up over the years, at 25 dollars a night it is still a great deal for this quiet little oasis along the busy I-5 corridor. We got in an hours walk before dark last night along the levee and got a respectable birdlist.  The high light of the evening was listening and watching a pair of Great Horned Owl just out side our window. The weather forecast is the fog to clear around eleven o’clock.  We are hoping to get to Bakersfield today to stay at the Orange Grove RV Park.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Buster & Holly Go Birding

We are have spent the last two nights at the Alameda CountyFairgrounds in Pleasanton to be able to visit with my sister-in-law Mary Sites.  Mary also has a miniature dachshund, who's name is Holly, so that always adds an interesting dimension to our visits. We decided to take Buster and Holly for a walk yesterday at Shadow CliffsRegion Recreation Area, which of course means for us a bird walk.

Shadow Cliffs is a former rock quarry, which makes great habitat for waterfowl. It was Holly's first time for hiking, so she didn’t really know what to do, and thought it would be a better idea to stay close to the car.  But once she understood the concept she was a real trooper.

We were able to spot an elusive Green Heron.

American White Pelicans were easy to see.

I was surprised to also find a Brown Pelican.  In all we were able to identify 32 different species of birds during our two mile walk.