The trail meanders through desert scrub southeast towards Mt. Fagan which rises like a familiar face before me. Every morning when I step out my back door I am greeted by his familiar face. Every night as the sunsets I watch as he blushes rose with the ending light of day or glows golden and smiles at me. Today he is a dull gray and soft under milky skies with blue and violet shadows exaggerating his lumpy form. He seems to nestle into a shaggy coat of desert green wrapped around his base. It is through this shaggy coat I travel listening to the sounds of birds.
I am passing through a patch of bufflegrass flagged for removal. Bufflegrass is an invasive species from Africa that was planted here long ago as forage for cattle. However, the cattle aren't much fond of it and it has taken over posing a threat to the sonoran desert by making a way for wildland fires to travel across this desert landscape. The Saguaros and other cacti have no defenses against fire, since fire usually can not take hold in this dry and sandy land, but bufflegrass becomes the bridge from plant to plant.
And thus an immense effort is underway to eradicate the invader from the sonoran desert. Volunteers go out in their spare time and dig the plant from the ground. Yet is is fear that even this will not be enough and Pima county has petitioned the environmental Protection agency for permission to spray an herbicide on the grass. The fear is that if they don't, the sonoran desert and all it's cacti will be lost forever. It would only take on fire to kill so many saguaros leaving bufflegrass to flourish in its stead.
Since I am at the outskirts of the housing it is quite quiet here, save for the crunch of gravel beneath my feet as I hike on. As the trail continues to climb it has turned slightly south and west. I pass through a barbed wire fence onto reddish clay earth. This looks more like an old dirt road with rocks scattered everywhere along the way. All bird life has quieted here and then I hear the whistle of a mourning dove's wings.
Saguaro Loop trail 11-4-09
...but I am totally out in the open, and there is no where to go. I am dressed in shorts and a tank top with only my hat for protection, so I stand my ground and point my camera at the humming hoard.
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Birds seen on the Saguaro loop trail:
Location: Sycamore Canyon-Saguaro Loop Tr.
Observation date: 11/4/09
Notes: This is my first time hiking this trail. It skirts through the desert on the permimeter of the eastern neighborhoods. I hiked it all the way home.
Number of species: 22
Gambel's Quail 14
Red-tailed Hawk (Western) 1
Mourning Dove 10 Most were see near the houses.
Greater Roadrunner 1
Costa's Hummingbird 1
Gila Woodpecker 5
Gilded Flicker 2
Common Raven 2
Cactus Wren 13
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Northern Mockingbird 3
Curve-billed Thrasher (Western) 7
Phainopepla 33 I saw one flock of 17 birds! These were in the green space near the desert wash North of Azure Sky rd.
Canyon Towhee 4
Rufous-winged Sparrow 3
Brewer's Sparrow 1
Lark Sparrow 1
Black-throated Sparrow 12
Northern Cardinal 1
House Finch 12
Lesser Goldfinch 1
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)