Monday, October 18, 2010

Chapter 9 continued: Graham County and Lake Cochise


Down, down, down we travel, down out of the mountains, down to the farmland of Safford where fields of crops flow away to mountain edges. Safford is a small but quaint town. Over all of it towers Mount Graham like some benevolent god, his craggy head lost today in the clouds of rain. Our time is growing short. We take a quick drive through Roper Lake State Park. I count 12 species here including a gorgeous male hooded oriole. This is a place I would definitely like to come back to if there were time.

DSC_0158g Birds Seen At Roper lake SP:

Location: Roper Lake SP
Observation date: 8/1/10
Notes: We only had time for a quick drive into the park and out again. All species seen from car.
Number of species: 12
Mallard 12
Gambel's Quail 6
Turkey Vulture 3
White-winged Dove 2
Western Kingbird 1
raven sp. 2
Barn Swallow 2
Verdin 2
Common Yellowthroat 2
Black-throated Sparrow 6
Red-winged Blackbird 8
Hooded Oriole 1
House Sparrow 3
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(


Other Birds seen in Various parts of Graham County:

  1. Turkey Vulture
  2. Rock pigeon
  3. White-winged dove
  4. Mourning dove
  5. Eurasian collared-dove
  6. Barn Swallow
  7. Northern Mockingbird
  8. Lark bunting
  9. Great-tailed Grackle
  10. House finch
  11. House sparrow

All together I saw 19 species of birds in Graham county on this day.

DSC_0068 In Wilcox we exit the highway to see what birds are hanging to at Lake Cochise near Twin Lakes Golf Course. It is a favorite birding area well known to people far and wide. On the road in I first find a killdeer wading in a puddle alongside the road…


…then I spot a Swainson’s Hawk resting on a utility pole.  It is on Gus’ side of the car, so I hand him the D80 which has the 70-300mm lens on it and he snaps the shots off. The Swainson’s seems unconcerned by our presence.

DSC_0080 Barn swallows 8-1-10


Western Kingbird 8-1-10

DSC_0085 Lesser scaup? 8-1-10

At first we do not see any birds on the water other than what looks like a lone scaup resting on some rocks, but then,

DSC_0191gas we start to travel the road that circles around the lake I find sandpipers and peeps. I am no good at shorebirds and all of these are in transition plumages.

DSC_0093 Wilson’s Phalaropes 8-1-10

I snap shot after shot hoping to figure it all out when I get home.

DSC_0097 DSC_0113 DSC_0122

I start to walk the dirt road while Gus is busy taking photographs.

DSC_0186g Lake Cochise 8-1-10

DSC_0217g Mountains and lake 8-1-10


Black-necked stilt in flight 8-1-10

In a distant pond I spot avocets and black-necked stilts. Then, as I am once again scanning the lake I see some birds with tiny heads spinning in the water across from me.

DSC_0233gNow I am getting excited! I have only seen this species one time before at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah. I am hoping these are what I think they are. I call excitedly to Gus, come and get me! We have to drive to the other side! I think I am seeing phalaropes!


Gus drives up and we round the bend to the other side. From this side we are closer and the setting sun is behind us giving me the best light. I see some other birders with cameras, bins and scopes. I am hoping they know more than I do about these birds so I walk over and introduce myself. I meet a woman named Linda Mack. She is from New Jersey and she has brought a birding tour here from there! She is able to enlighten me about the birds we are seeing. She tells me they are Wilson’s Phalaropes. She also had an Eared Grebe in her scope which she graciously lets me see. Then she tells me about the least and western sandpipers we are seeing. She also tells me there are Baird’s sandpipers in the mix. I have never seen a Baird’s so it would be a life bird for me but we keep talking and then some of her clients need her and I never get to see the Baird's. However, I have taken tons of photos. I can tell there are birds that are different from the others so I will upload my pictures and figure it all out later when I am home.


Gus and I drive away in the dusky light. We point our car west and follow the highway home for one last time. It has been a full day. Our hearts and minds and cameras are full of memories and photos. It will be hard to leave this place. There are so many places yet to explore but we have run out of time. I console myself with the fact that since I started this blog, almost all of those adventures are document here and I can read it for myself anytime. And perhaps someday when my kids are older and they start to wonder about their mother’s life, they will read this account also and know what their mother did in her “spare” time! Perhaps at least one of them will discover this passion for themselves.

DSC_0184 Avocets 8-1-10

My World Tuesday 

Location: Wilcox--Lake Cochise and Wilcox Golf Course
Observation date: 8/1/10
Notes: Met a woman named Linda Mack from New Jersey who was guiding a tour. She let me look through her scope. She was very nice and helpful.
Number of species: 12
Eared Grebe 1
Swainson's Hawk 1
Killdeer 6
Black-necked Stilt 4
American Avocet 5
Lesser Yellowlegs 1
Western Sandpiper 8
Least Sandpiper 5
Wilson's Phalarope 40
Western Kingbird 2
Barn Swallow 6
Great-tailed Grackle 3
This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(


(all pictures enlarge with a click)

Blogger’s Note: This is a post I tried to publish before I left but I ran out of storage in Picasa Web Albums.  I have now purchased more space and hope that this publishes when I press the button! If you are seeing this post then it worked!


Mary said...

Beautiful country, beautiful birds, wonderful memories.

Trish ~ ♥ ~ said...

Great sighting! Lucky you!

Anonymous said...

It worked, and it was worth waiting for. Great day, great trip, great photos.

Sylvia K said...

It does indeed look like a wonderful trip and that makes for great memories! How fun! Great photos! Thanks for sharing them! Have a great week!


BraCom said...

Beautiful My World posting

Have a nice week,
Greetings, Bram

My Word Tuesday post

Seen on My World Tuesday

Anonymous said...

AMAZING!! You two should publish a book together - I'd buy it :)!! ~Jess

A Colorful World said...

When we first decided to move to AZ we looked into this area and wished we could move close to Mt. Graham. But, alas, we are needed in Tucson. Still, I am looking forward to a trip up that way some time!

I wanted to tell you that we had a Grey Hawk visit our yard twice. I got a very bad picture of him. I looked him up and realized there are only 50 pairs of these birds in existence....only here in SE AZ and some in New Mexico and around the Rio Grande. I feel very excited that one visited us!

Speaking of visits, I know you know I just met Mary of Faith Fabric & Photos! That was great!

Kathie Brown said...

Marie, I am so happy to hear that you met Mary. I have not had the chance to read her blog posts yet so I am glad that you told me. she emailed me and told me that she was able to visit Sweetwater Wetlands. SE AZ is such an amazing birding location and I do miss it so. I saw gray hawks a couple of times down in Rio Rico and near Buenos Arise national wildlife Refuge. I knew they were a rare species but I did not know they were that rare!

Julie Hargreaves said...

Great blog