After Tommy DeBardeleben reported at least 60 Evening Grosbeaks at Sunflower two days ago, I was itching to do some birding up at that higher elevation of about 3500'. There may be a town of Sunflower but I know only of the Old Beeline Highway I used to drive to get to Payson. It was a 2-lane curvy road up the mountains for weekend get-aways. But traffic got so thick and slow that a new highway- Highway 87- replaced it and is now a four-lane road to the high country. A full section of the Old Beeline Highway is open for residents and ranchers who still live along it but after 1.5 miles, it is blocked off to through traffic. So, I parked car at a wide pull out near Sycamore Creek to walk the old road. That area is full of Arizona Sycamores in front of the private property. In winter, with no leaves, birding is phenomenal. Friends, Maureen and Jan joined me this morning (their first birding visit to the place). We were no sooner out of the car at 7:40 a.m., than Maureen called, birds overhead. Since I wanted to see the rare Evening Grosbeak here and Tommy had seen big flocks of them, I called out in question, "Are they the Grosbeaks?"
|Old Beeline Highway|
|L-R: Maureen and Jan|
|Surroundings as we returned from the Forest Service Work Station to the car.|
Again, the photo above is from the internet in case you've never seen an Evening Grosbeak; the one below is the one I took. a) See if you can find the bird! b) See if you can find its humongous beak!
Since Jan and Maureen are full-time RVers and are visiting for awhile, I wanted to also show them North Sycamore Creek. The entrance to it lies across Highway 87 from the entrance to Mount Ord where a cross-lane is available. At North Sycamore Creek we saw a beautiful Northern Cardinal and heard Black-chinned Sparrows and one Juniper Titmouse.
The weather was gorgeous; Sycamore Creek was flowing; the birds were singing and somedays, it just seems nothing could be better than to be outside birding. It was one of those days. Thank you, Jan and Maureen!
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