Hassayampa Preserve Bird Walk – 20180203

It was quite a while since we had a good dose of nature and the warmer than usual winter has given us added impetus to “go outside!” An opportunity presented itself which allowed us to combine two of our interests, bird watching and hiking. As I have explained on these pages before, I am an “occasional birder.” I enjoy birds and bird identification, but I am not ardent. I take it as it comes and it adds enjoyment to my wanderings.

We registered for a guided bird walk at the Hassayampa River Preserve in Wickenburg, AZ. This is riparian zone that has running water all year long; a rarity for the desert. As such, many birds are attracted to this wooded environment. The warmer temperatures have brought featehred visitors that don’t usually come this far south during February.


The inviting ponds at the Hassayampa River Preserve

The inviting ponds at the Hassayampa River Preserve

If you have never done bird watching, then it may be difficult understand the highs and lows of the experience. There will be those in the group who see so many birds while you might be gazing at the leaves and branches and wondering: “What do they see?” or “Where is that bird?”

Below is an example of one of the frustrations. This bird appeared on the top of a nearby Cottonwood tree. It was vey much in view although quite a distance away. Unless an observer knew this bird from previous experience, it would be difficult to identify.


Phainopepla hard to identify from a distance

I had seen this bird several times before so I knew it was a Phainopepla. One distinguishing characteristic is its red eye which, because of the distance and lighting, was not visible. The black tuft on top of the head is also a distinguishing feature. I was able to get my best picture to date of this bird in November. You can see it HERE.

When I attended my first guided bird walk, I was surprised to learn that most birders don’t rely on sightings to identify the bird at first. They identify the call or song and then look for the specific bird. I must admit that this is a skill which mostly eludes me. I do know certain very defined bird calls like the Mourning Dove, Cactus Wren, Curve-billed Thrasher, etc., but all those chip-chip-chips and too-wees just escape my grasp. This is one reason I greatly appreciate having a guide.

The bird in the picture below, for example, was identified as a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The birds are particularly difficult to identify and even more so to photograph. They jump around incessantly. Although this bird is totally shaded, the guide followed it from several trees and was able to identify it for us. I take her word for it!


Flitting Ruby-crowned singled silhouette

Another photo of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The most distinguishing mark of this bird is a red tuft on the top if the head. The angle, lighting and other factors did not capture this marking.


Better view of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet

You can see much better photos of this bird HERE.

There were some birds that were more conveniently situated and thus more easily identifiable such as this Hermit Thrush. The problem here is that the bird has very distinctive spots on its whiteish underbelly, but as you will note, that characteristic was not clearly visible from the back.


Hermit Thrush

The lesser Goldfinches were a bit more cooperative once the morning warmed a bit. They would cling to the thin branches of a nearby bush and pose for a while. The trick here is to take a number of pictures as the autofocus (which I use for birding*) will sometimes choose to focus on a foreground branch and render the bird out-of-focus.


Lesser Goldfinch


Lesser Goldfinch

Black Phoebes often will flit away and then return to the same branch from which they flew so it may be easy to wait a moment while gaining focus on the perch and then snap the shot once the bird returns. The first shot has only the back of the bird, but it later turned sideways for a profile shot.


Black Phoebe


Black Phoebe

The next series is of a Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Woodpeckers, creepers and other similar birds cling to the side of trees and climb upward. They will then fly to a nearby tree and begin to hop while ascending that tree. It appears to me that they know when they are being watched and they scoot to the side of the tree away from the viewer so they can hide. At least it seems that way!

While the pictures are a bit blurry because the bird was madly pecking away, the distinctive markings are visible.


Ladder-backed Woodpecker


Ladder-backed Woodpecker


Ladder-backed Woodpecker

One last sighting before we left revealed three Western Bluebirds sitting on the same branch. They were catching the mid-morning rays of the sun. The blue of their backs does not show that well, but the rufous color of their underside is clearly visible.


Western Bluebirds

 
Additional sightings by me and others, but not photographed:

  • Abert’s Towhee
  • American Coot
  • Brown Creeper
  • Canyon Wren
  • House Finch
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • Plumbeous Vireo
  • Verdin

* NOTE – The only camera I used during this bird walk was my Canon SX50 HS which is a bridge camera with a telephoto zoom lens. Pictures are best at low ISO (200 and below) which limits the aperture and shutter speed. The aim of these photographs was not to capture beautiful pictures of birds, but to take pictures that would enable identification. Of course it would be wonderful to have an excellent photo along the way!

 
See previous JBRish posts about birds HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2018


Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160701

The Finale of the Peralta Trail Photo Essay

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Long shadows, time to head backk
Toward Sunset

After spending some time at the Fremont Saddle and having a snack, we wanted to head back to the trailhead. As you can note from the picture, the shadows were getting longer and with that the cool, soon to be followed by cold, December chill would be setting in.

Even the decaying plants add a beauty to the desert if we take time to notice and appreciate them. Desert life is hard and any plant or animal that can survive gains my immediate and ever-lasting respect.

This is the final post about our experience along the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, Arizona. If you like moderate hiking and a walk in a very different and beautiful landscape, I recommend it. Just be prepared, heed all warning signs and read about the hike before you commit.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.


©Jeffrey B. Ross


Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160630

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160630

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Spent desert flower stalk
Spent desert flower stalk

As I pointed out in one of the first posts about the Peralata Trail, there is an abundance of desert flora along the trail as far as the eye can see. There is beauty all around during the spring as cacti and desert trees bloom freely.

Once the bloom is over, some of the plants continue to provide aesthetic interest with their dry stalks, etc. I so appreciated this willowy structure highlighted against the dark, shadowy background in the picture above. It was truly striking! The lower group of plants sporting their colors of yellow and orange were supporting cast members.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160629

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Weavers Needle from the Fremont Saddle - one last shot!
Weavers Needle – one last picture

Once we made it to the saddle and took in the view of Weavers Needle, we realized that it was time to head back down the trail. We started the hike later in the day and we were satisfied to have reached the saddle.

Before we started our journey back to the trailhead, I couldn’t resist taking one last picture of the needle and I am glad I did!

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160628

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Weavers Needle close up
Weavers Needle close up

A closer view of Weavers Needle from the Fremont Saddle on the Peralta Trail. Read more about this particular formation in the post of June 27, 2017 linked at the bottom of this entry.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160627

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


The Peralta Trail Payoff
The Peralta Trail Payoff

This view is what I call the “payoff” for hiking uphill along the Peralta Trail. A bit more than two miles along the trail, hikers will come to the Fremont Saddle. For those who don’t know, a mountain’s saddle is generally a flatter piece of land between two mountains, or two rises of a single mountain, which often provides a wide area for sitting, resting, etc.

The vista from the saddle is a startling view of Weavers Needle. For those who don’t suspect what is coming, it can be awesome as it rises up just over the horizon and comes into view as you push upward onto the saddle.

You can read more specifically about Weaver’s SaddleHERE

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160626

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Another window in a rock formation
Another window in a rock formation

As we hiked further, we came across another window rock. This is what I enjoy about hiking; there are discoveries along the way most of the time.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160625

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Approaching the saddle
A view from close to the saddle near the top of the Peralta Trail

As hikers continue to climb, it pays to look back “down” the trail. In some cases, hikers may find that the best views are behind them. This photo was taken as we began to approach the part of trail leading to the saddle, but looking back toward the trailhead.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160624

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Large rock formation along the Peralta Trail
As we ascended the trail, we passed this intricate rock formation

This rock formation reminds me a bit of a human riding an animal. Imagine the person closest to the left side of the frame seen from the back sitting upright. The lower rocks “create” the representation of the animal which appears to be moving away from the viewer.

The scope of the formation can be gauged when compared in size to the surrounding saguaros. Generally speaking, saguaros don’t start to grow additional arms until after they are forty or fifty years old.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.

Hiking the Peralta Trail, Gold Canyon, AZ – 20160623

NOTE – Keep in mind that we took this hike and these pictures represent the trail as we saw it in December, 2009. The trail may have changed a bit since them and some of the flora may no longer be exactly where we are reporting, but this is a good representation of things you may find along the way. Perhaps you will find even more intriguing highlights.

Of course the large rock formations and mountains will remain largely unchanged.


Saguaros greet hikers along the trail
Saguaros greet hikers along the Peralta Trail

As in most areas where hikers might want to trek in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, there are a significant number of saguaros along the Peralta Trail and they appear in clusters as well as individual specimens.

They seem to “greet” hikers as they ascend the trail to the saddle or beyond. Also notice the interesting shadow play of the saguaro in the foreground.

Read more about the Peralta Trail HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Peralta Trail series in chronological order:


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JBRish.com originally published this post
*All photographs Copyright by Jeffrey B. Ross with all rights reserved.