It is Gus’ last weekend here with me. We have been taking care of last minute details for the past two days. The company Gus works for has every other Friday off so we spent Friday and Saturday doing errands. We bought him some new clothes, had his truck repaired, cleaned out his closet, got rid of old clothes and shoes. By Saturday night we were beat.
We both woke up early this Sunday morning around 6 a.m. It is a cool gray morning, cool enough to jump in the hot tub, so we get into our suits and climb in to the steaming water and let the bubbles roar! The hot tub is only a few steps out our bedroom door. We just bought it this year a couple of months ago. We were finally settling down and investing in our lives here. Two weeks after we bought it the lay-offs started. Now here we are enjoying every moment in it that we can. Having the hot tub has really made living here feel like we are on a permanent vacation.
We sit in the bubbling water and watch the birds watch us. They fly to the feeders to feed and land in the nearby trees that we planted. The hummingbirds fly over our heads to the feeders on the windows. We laugh at their antics as they battle each other for food. Two Costa’s hummingbirds face off in a beak to beak battle as they ascend in a frantic spiral which ends with one flying off and the other in hot pursuit. I love my life here! In the sky above the wash the purple martins fly and twitter joyously. I think they sound like one of the happiest birds around. It seems to me they revel in the feeling of the wind beneath their wings!
As we sit here in the hot tub watching birds I start to think of the few chores we still have left to do. Gus was going to hang a mirror for me and fix a leaky faucet. But this is our last free day together and I start to formulate a plan. I pose the idea to Gus. What if instead of fixing the sink and cleaning out the rest of your closet we just take off for the day? We can drive to Graham and Greenlee counties to see what we can see and go count birds. He thinks about it for about five seconds and then agrees. We both think it will be good to get away from all the moving stress, so we quickly shower, eat breakfast, pack up the car and head east on I-10.
Graham and Greenlee counties are two of the least birded counties in all of Arizona. In fact, only 5 people have submitted bird counts from Greenlee County. I counted birds one time in Graham County last year when we drove up there late one afternoon in the autumn just so I could say I had been there. I only counted birds in the town and at a couple of spots along the roadside. We didn’t have much time and darkness was falling as we drove out of town for the 2 hour ride home. On that visit I counted 8 species of birds. Now I am hoping to add to that total, plus add another whole county onto my list. I have never been to Greenlee County so I have no idea what to expect.
Greenlee County is on the eastern border of Arizona running vertically along the border with New Mexico. It is not an easy county to access from where I live. There are few roads into it and when I googled directions to get to a town called Alpine it actually suggested a route through Lordsburg, New Mexico and up through the Gila Mountains. It said it would take 4 hours! Well, we don’t have time for that today, but we can get into the southernmost tip of Greenlee county by traveling through Safford and so we head east through Cochise County.
Our first stop is at Texas Canyon, a rocky rest area along I-10. This is one of those places we have passed by every time we head east and we always say, “We need to stop there someday!” Well, today is the day. Who knows when another “someday” will come? We pull into the rest area and park.
Huge boulders are strewn around the landscape. They are piled into mountains on both sides of the road. They tower above us in the picnic area and we see other tourists climbing about and taking pictures.
I can hear a few birds as we open the car doors but to my disappointment I see that most of the rocks are fenced off. You can look but don’t touch. I gaze across the boulder strewn field through a tall chain link fence. It makes it difficult to take photographs but there are a few spots where one can aim over the fence and get a decent shot. Gus and I both have our cameras so we are both taking pictures, though I am more interested in birds. I hear some chatter from beyond the fence and spot a scrub jay in the brush.
Overhead a few barn swallows swoop and a few land on the roof antenna of the caretaker’s house. Along the parking lot I find some house sparrows and one western kingbird. Over the open desert turkey vultures ride thermals on great dark wings.
As I walk along the fence line I find a sign posted warning that this area contains poisonous snakes and insects. I am suddenly made conscious of my feet clad only in sandals, poor protection from this type of hazard. I now watch wear I place each step and head back to the car.
It was fun to stop here and see what I could see, but this is only Cochise County and Gus and I are both ready to continue our trek east to my real goal of counting birds in Graham and Greenlee counties, but I am glad that we finally stopped to see Texas Canyon! (See links and info below)
Location: Texas Canyon Rest Area
Observation date: 8/1/10
Notes: Stopped here to look a rocks and count birds on our way to Graham and Greenlee counties.
Number of species: 9
Turkey Vulture 3
Gila Woodpecker 1
Western Kingbird 1
Western Scrub-Jay (Woodhouse's) 1
Barn Swallow 5
Northern Mockingbird 1
Canyon Towhee 1
House Finch 3
House Sparrow 4
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)
Update: after Reading Gaelyn’s comment I went out and did some research and discovered that most of Texas Canyon is owned by either the Amerind Foundation or the Triangle T Guest Ranch. The Triangle T also has RV spaces for rent. You can find information about Texas Canyon by clicking on these links: