Up the dry wash we walked looking for all the birds we were hearing. A ladder-backed woodpecker flew to the Palo Verde the Gila was in. The buzzy call of a gnatcatcher caught our ears and then its form caught our eyes. I was surprised to see a blue-gray gnatcatcher as black-tailed are the more common variety around here. Along the wash we found a canyon towhee hiding in the scrub. Bell’s vireo and Hutton’s sang and hopped among the new leaves emerging from mesquite and other trees. A small flycatcher sat on a branch before us and I was at a loss to identify it. I took a photo to examine at home and decided it was a gray flycatcher due to its shape, colors, habit and habitat. So many of the flycatchers are so difficult to distinguish unless you hear them call and know their voices.
We’d been down on the trail for a couple of hours with the sun growing stronger by the minute. We hiked back up to the street level and drove to the Javalina Picnic Area to have a cool drink of water and eat our snacks in the shade of a covered picnic table. While we sat there chatting and discussing what birds we had seen and what to do next, a canyon towhee hopped out of the bushes and towards our picnic table totally at ease with us sitting there. Gambles quail darted across the path from one side and then back to the other. Then, a rock squirrel came creeping out of the brush and rippled across the dirt with a mouth full of something bulging its cheeks out to the max. I have seen this elusive species of squirrel twice before but was unable to snap a photo. This time I was close enough and quick enough to get a good shot of this unusual animal.