The blue adobe walls of the Duquesne House greet me, the front porch strung with red pepper chandeliers,
I step through the front door of this room into a Mexican heritage museum. I walk out the back door into a court yard from the past with lovely shady places to sit and contemplate…
We soon pack up and drive the two short miles to The Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve. We are greeted by Cassin’s Kingbirds, canyon towhees, and a lark sparrow, seeking food on the gravel trail.
The trail meanders along Sonoita Creek, one of the few perennial streams in Arizona. As such, it is a precious resource and the Nature Conservancy has purchased it to preserve this fragile habitat. It was the first project undertaken by the Nature Conservancy in Arizona.
Where we find western wood pewees and other flycatchers flitting among the creek side trees.
This is a quiet place, ripe with sunlight, perfect for bugs and birds. I see a woodpecker fly into the thickest trees and disappear before I can identify which species it is. We find a female vermillion flycatcher and an ash-throated flycatcher in the willows and cottonwoods down by the creek.
And then to my surprise on a dead snag overhanging the riffled water, a cedar waxwing perches silently alongside a Says Phoebe! Though I am quite familiar with cedar waxwings, I have never seen one in Arizona. It seem to me a bird out of place, a mixture of north and south, east and west, with the Says’ Phoebe sitting next to it.
If you would like to visit the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve you get there by taking highway 83 south off of I-10 through Davidson Canyon, an Arizona Scenic highway. In Sonoita turn right on Highway 82 and follow it into Patagonia. Turn right on 4th Avenue to a T intersection. Then turn left and follow the signs to the preserve, about 1 ½ miles down the road.
Info from the Nature Conservancy web site:
Planning Your Visit The elevation at the preserve is 4,000 feet. The best months for birding are March through September. Late April and May, and late August and September, offer the greatest diversity of species, including migrants and spring/summer residents. Winter is the season for sparrows and occasional southern vagrants such as the rufous-backed robin.
Visitors may learn about the preserve, its wild residents, viewing interpretive exhibits at the Visitor Center.
HoursApril-September: Wednesday-Sunday, 6:30 a.m.-4 p.m. October-March: Wednesday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed: Mondays & Tuesdays all year & on Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s Days.
Fees$5 per person. Conservancy members $3. Patagonia residents and ages 16 & under free. Fees are valid for seven days from date of purchase. Annual passes are available.