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Raiding Arizona

August 13, 2012

Late last night I returned home from a trip to Arizona courtesy of Swarovski, the goal of which was ostensibly to talk birding social media. I was joined by a veritable who’s who of bird blogging celebrity, a group that included Mike Bergin of 10,000 Birds, Sharon Stiteler of Birdchick, Laura Kammermeier of Birds, Words, and Websites, Robert Mortenson of Birding is Fun, and Rue Mapp of Outdoor Afro.

The conversations were fun, and just being together to talk about blogging and social media with these guys was a blast.  But, of course, when so many birders get together indoors, it’s impossible for us not to have our eyes on the door all morning long.  So Saturday we headed out into the Huachucas in an all-out, no holds barred, 18 hour birding mega trip that started at the gates of Fort Huachuca at sunrise and didn’t stop until we had Elf Owls at the nest just after sundown.  It was exhausting and exciting and totally worth it.  I will have lots more on this trip in the next week or two, but here are a few, of very very many, highlights.

We were spoiled rotten when it came to trogons.  In Huachuca Canyon, we watched for 45 minutes as a male alternated feeding its nearly grown fledgling big hairy caterpillers with perching directly above us and calling.  Truly a mind-numbing experience.

Proving these sorts of trips are not just about birds, this 3 foot Black-tailed Rattlesnake that I nearly stumbled over while walking down a creekbed in Huachuca Canyon made a strong play for the highlight of the trip.

Mexican Spotted Owls are rarer and more range-restricted than their more famous northern relatives.  Not that you’d know it when one is sitting 10 feet up a tree right next to the trail, as this one did in Miller Canyon.

You’re doing yourself a disservice if you travel to these birding hotspots and fail to appreciate the bugs in the area, which are often as notably tropical as the birds that are the big draw.  This Arizona Sister was one of the flashiest butterflies we saw this weekend, with big white and orange patches and a gorgeous subtle veining in the forewing.  Truly the Elegant Trogon of butterflies.

Much much much more to come.

One Comment
  1. Jane permalink
    August 13, 2012 3:00 pm

    Lucky lucky you. Arizona is a feast and the canyon which I have never been to sounds divine.

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