Local Birding in Gila & Pinal Counties, AZ

Thursday, June15, 2017

When the Sonoran Desert temp goes up...up...up, Marsha and I decided to do the same thing -- head up...up...up for higher elevation birding. 

Aware of the lightening strike on Pinal Peak that was continued as a controlled burn, I was hopeful that we might make it as far as Sulfide del Ray Campground to give us a look at a few mountain birds. Gate was closed at our turn onto FR651, so having already spent about two hours inching our way up Russell Gulch (Road), we turned around and drove back down having seen 34 species of fairly well-known high desert birds. 

RED-TAILED HAWK at Russell Gulch

In past travels through Globe, both of us had seen a directional sign into the Pinal Mountain Recreation Area at the east end of the city. So we decided to give it a go. Not knowing precisely where to turn, I took the first sign we saw.

OOPS! I managed to "jeep" Six Shooter Canyon Road with my hybrid Honda Insight without mishap, but it was not a road I should have been taking through dips, around rocks and rain-washed gullies. Not able to turn around on what quickly became a very narrow rocky road, I wondered how far I would need to go to get out of there. Quite a relief to eventually come to a flat wide area (not a developed campground but apparently used for one) where I turned back, realizing that all roads going off from there were hard-core roads for high-clearance and 4-wheel drive vehicles. I covered one mile in an hour (in and out).

Able then to relax, Marsha and I ate lunch beneath a wide mesquite providing some shade as we checked off birds seen right there. Except for the challenge of the drive, the ride through that portion of the mountain was beautiful and cool, but we had no time for birding as Marsha helped "read the road" for me.

Not wanting to return to the desert so soon, we stopped off to bird a bit at Oak Flat Campground just above Superior. 

We're always thrilled to find a GREATER ROAD RUNNER!

GREATER ROAD RUNNER  [Photo by Marsha Wiles]
Cassin's Kingbird (worn feathers on side of tail; end of tail, white)  [Photo by Marsha Wiles]
At high-noon, with no one else in sight, I showed Marsha the whole campground before parking. What I spotted immediately was a female Vermilion going to her nest just a bit forward from us, easily viewed through the dusty windshield. The male also came in with food. I leaned out the window to get a couple shots, but one from inside wasn't bad either.

Male VERMILION FLYCATCHER (taken through the windshield)


Getting very very hot, we decided our adventurous day had been well worth getting up at 4:00 a.m.

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S37612428


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