July 18, 2010
Sunday morning. It’s hot. It’s humid, but we decide to take a drive anyways. I want to drive through Saguaro National Park’s Rincon unit, for it is where it all began. When we first moved here 3 years ago I used to come here all the time. We were staying in the studio apartment then waiting to find someplace to live. One day while Gus was at work I drove over to Saguaro National Park and bought a National Parks pass. This allowed me to go in as often as I wanted to without paying each and every time.
Saguaro National Park is divided into two separate units. The Tucson Mountain Unit sits on the west side of town and it was the first part of the park we visited before we even moved down here. It was while we were visiting our kids for Thanksgiving in 2006 that Gus decided he wanted to live where he can wear shorts in the wintertime. We went home to Utah from that trip and Gus started applying for jobs. Within three months we were living here. The eastern portion of Saguaro National Park is actually the largest, but very few people make it into the back country. I must say that I never have. However, the park is still quite enjoyable from the 7 mile loop road and the few trails I have accessed from below. Now, as we drive through the gate this Sunday morning memories of those other visits come rushing back and as we drive I am well aware that this might be the last time I get to do this.
We have both cameras with us, but I am using my binoculars and counting birds as we go. For once Gus is stopping without me having to ask him. He is taking pictures of everything. I can tell that he is well aware of the fact that it could be a very long time before we see any of this again. Whenever he stops to take pictures I count birds. Suddenly we are like tourists once again and every cactus seems amazing to us.
Though it is only around 9:30 a.m. the temperature has started to rise. Accompanied by the humidity, it’s quite uncomfortable out there. Thankfully we are in an air-conditioned car, though the sound of the motor running drowns out the birds. At our next stop I shut the car off and Gus wants to know why. I tell him I cannot hear the birds. He goes back to photographing a cactus and I listen and watch. White-winged doves are everywhere, but I have seen a few purple martins, a couple of flycatchers and some Gila woodpeckers. Turkey vultures circle above in the clear blue sky. Will they find anything that has died on this hot day? I suspect they will.
The road winds up through a cactus forest. The Rincon Mountains loom before us. We stop at a favorite overlook, then get back in the car and drive as the road bends back toward the city. Soon all of Tucson is spread before us. In the distance the Tucson Mountains punctuate the skyline. It’s almost noontime now and the heat makes it impossible to drive with windows open. We view the world from within this steel and glass air-conditioned cage. It is not quite how I would choose to experience the park, but I am not in favor of passing out from the heat and humidity.
After an hour and 40 minutes and 6.5 miles of driving I counted 18 species of birds on this day. The most numerous species were white-winged doves. I counted at least 40 of them. Our days here are probably limited. I am torn between wanting to visit old haunts to say good-bye and trying to see other places that I never got to. How will I choose what to do? Will I have time to do any of it? I will not have any answers until later on this week. How does one say good-bye to the land and the place they love?
(All of today’s photos were taken by Gusto! with the Nikon D90)
Birds Seen Today In Saguaro National Park Rincon Mt Unit
Location: Saguaro NP--Rincon Mt Unit
Observation date: 7/18/10
Notes: Drove through the park slowly with Gus. Stopped a few places along the way.
Number of species: 18
Gambel's Quail 4
Turkey Vulture 6
White-winged Dove 40
Mourning Dove 2
Gila Woodpecker 12
Gilded Flicker 4
Ash-throated Flycatcher 2
Brown-crested Flycatcher 3
Purple Martin (Desert) 2
Cactus Wren 3
Northern Mockingbird 2
Curve-billed Thrasher (Western) 4
Rufous-crowned Sparrow 2
Black-throated Sparrow 4
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
House Finch 2
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)