Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wickenburg, AZ

A day trip to out of Phoenix to Wickenburg was my favorite part of our vacation. I can't say much about the town except that we had a fabulous Mexican lunch at a little restaurant there. There were several interesting museums there that I'd love to go back and see but the highlight of that trip was a jeep tour out into the desert outside of Wickenburg. Another lifer on that day was a canyon wren. It's not a striking looking bird, but the song was beautiful. Check this link to hear the song.
The prettiest bird I saw out there was the vermilion flycatcher. At the end of our tour, on our way back in to Wickenburg we stopped alongside a horse pasture. From across the road these gorgeous red birds looked like flashing red lights perched on the barbed wire fence. There were four- two males and two females actively hunting insects in the pasture. They would dart out to catch an insect then fly back to the fence to eat. They were moving way too fast for me to get a picture but I was just enthralled just watching them.

This curve-billed thrasher doesn't seem to mind the spines of this saguaro cactus. They must have tough toes!
This phainopepla (not Pepcid AC Susan!) posed nicely. They are all inky black with a blazing red eye. Very cool bird!
The lighting in the desert in late afternoon is wonderful and there is no way to describe the smell of the air. I found myself taking in great lungs full of that air- unlike anything I'd ever experienced before. Fabulous!
The phainopeplas were striking beautiful poses all afternoon.
Our tour guide/jeep driver seemed to know a bit about everything- except birds. It got to the point where he's stop when ever he'd see a bird so I could look. He couldn't help with id's but was patient with me and let me look as long as I needed to. He called these berries "desert mistletoe" and said it was a major food source for the phainopepla (one of the few birds he could id).

Art and John had a different highlight of the trip. They spent one morning taking helicopter flight lessons! Here's John above hovering by himself. The flight instructor told Art that John's vast video game experience actually game him a leg up in eye hand coordination. John did really well in his lesson and was thrilled by the compliment. He has talked about wanting to be a helicopter pilot for a few years and now can't wait for the next lesson.
Art was a helicopter crew chief years ago in the Army and so has some prior experience. He accepted the offer to fly with the door off. Art and John took pictures of each other as I reigned in my protective instincts and did not go along to watch. I'm glad I didn't go. It's a guy thing that they have shared and now the memories are theirs.
Among my memories are these new life birds:
Inca Dove
White-winged Dove
Vermilion Flycatcher
Great-tailed Grackle
Harris's Hawk
Swainson's Hawk
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Costa's Hummingbird
Black Phoebe
Gambel's Quail
Black-throated Sparrow
Curve-billed Thrasher
Abert's Towhee
Gila Woodpecker
Cactus Wren
Canyon Wren


Deb said...

I'm green with envy at that list. I don't think I've seen any of those!

Mary said...

I'm with Deb. You must have been in bird heaven, Lynne! I laughed out loud about the thrasher with tough toes!!! You are so silly! I love it!

I would have stayed firmly planted on the ground, too, Lynne. The guys must have been in so excited - a great father/son memory.

Lynne said...

Deb- I'll probably never lay eyes on them again! But it sure was fun.

Mary- The guys really had a blast and I'm glad it was just between them.

Larry said...

I'm starting to wonder if you might have seen every bird in Arizona.

Susan Gets Native said...

Har, har, Lynne.

That's one heck of a list you have there!

LostRoses said...

Your posts are sure bringing back memories of a birding trip I took years ago to Portal, Arizona. When I saw the Vermilion Flycatcher for the first time I was sitting on a rock in a streambed and when my friend hollered "Vermilion!" I almost fell in. Never have seen another one since!

Jayne said...

Like Deb, I don't think I've ever seen any of those on your list! Lucky you!! That Vermillion Flycatcher is stunning. I can't imagine seeing several of them together. The photo in the desert is etheral... so pretty and peaceful Lynne.

mon@rch said...

Every one of those lifers you listed would also be a lifer for me! Great birds!

Lynne said...

Larry- LOL!!

Susan- Nanny nanny boo-boo!!

LostRoses- The vermilion flycatchers were so pretty!

Jayne- I loved our trip out into the desert. Beauty in all directions.

Mon@rch- thanks, it sure was fun!

Sandy said...

Lynne, Wow, you got a lot in a few days. I haven't seen any of those birds, but have gotten myself a Western Bird Guide in anticipation of moving out west in a few years.

Wickenburg is one of the towns we have looked into. We still aren't sure exactly where we will end up, but it will be someplace warm.

Cathy said...

The picture of the thrasher nimbly perched on the thorns - incredible! And boy do I understand your reasoning in not going along for the helicopter training. You are a wise woman - in more ways than one. We need men who can do manly things like fly helicopters, but we don't have to watch ;0)