Monday, October 19, 2009

My World: Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve

In the southern Mountains of Arizona lies a small town called Patagonia. Known as a birding and art Mecca, I met TR Ryan there on Friday morning after his two night stay at my house.

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…

While TR wanders the garden, sipping the fragrances of the flowers, listening to the hum of hummingbirds, and the breeze dancing in the trees

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.

I am surprise by how flat it is, with mountains rising in the distance. But here the golden fields reflect autumn sunlight and shadow, while cicadas buzz in the trees. T.R. tells me this look like Oklahoma in the summer.

We walk quietly down the soft dirt trail and enter the woods once again.

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.

When we return to the visitor’s center and ask about the bird, we find out it is indeed a rare sighting to see a cedar waxwing here. As such, we are each awarded a free poster. While TR chooses the view of the mountains, I pick the gray hawk instead. Though we did not see one today, we did end up with a list of 26 species of birds, many of them life birds for TR, and for me an Arizona life bird with the cedar waxwing sighting.

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.

And that's...MY WORLD Tuesday


bobbie said...

It looks like heaven on earth! Oh, those carved wooden chairs, too! Thanks for the tour.

Arija said...

I loved it that you were both rewarded for sighting and documenting a rare visitor.
Lovely post as always Kathie.

Gaelyn said...

What a lovely place Kathie. Nice that you got to show TR around there. And then getting an AZ lifer as well.

eileeninmd said...

Sounds like you had a great visit, your photos are great. I really enjoy seeing the birds. Thanks for sharing and maybe someday I will visit this preserve in Arizona.

Sylvia K said...

What a great visit! Love all your photos, Kathie! Thanks so much taking us along for the fun!!

Have a great week!


Maurice Lauher said...

Kathie, thanks for sharing your worlds once again and thank you for your kind words.

chrome3d said...

The big wooden chairs looked so comfy to sit on. Wonderful place.

Mary said...

Beautiful place! Will have to go there the next time we are in Arizona. The Lark Sparrow is very pretty.

Louise said...

A pretty place. Flatness next to mountains always amazes me, too, and I sort of live in that.

Deborah Godin said...

So nice to soak it all up vicariously through your blog! That house and patio looks just beautiful!

TR Ryan said...

Memories, memories, memories. I wish I was still there! Beautiful capture of a beautiful day!

Kcalpesh said...

Beautiful place! I love the picture of the house and those birds and the nature around the house! Very nicely shot!

Pixellicious Photos

Oman said...

wow. what an amazing place. i would definitely have the time of my life there.

Anonymous said...

Wow. what a wonderful visit this must have been. The photos and lifestyle are just incredible and makes me want to reinvent myself.

Larry said...

That photo with the path that passes through the trees to an open area looks intriguing to me.I guess I should feel lucky that we get to see so many Cedar Waxwings here but unfortunately we don't get any prizes if we find one.Nice photos and the birds that you talk about seeing seem so interesting to me.

JP/deb said...

Gorgeous photos and informative text ... loved walking along with you.


Johnny Nutcase said...

Ah! Patagonia, AZ ! fun spot! I remember all the breeding Lucy Warblers from last time I was there, very cool! My husband saw a Gray Hawk last time he was there (i missed it!)...looks like you had a good time! nice shots!