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This will be our second trip of the season to Hassayampa River Preserve near Wickenburg, and we can expect to see a number of early migratory arrivals on this visit. E-bird lists for the last half of March last year showed almost 100 species, so it should be a very productive day! We'll be looking for warblers, vireos, tanagers, and orioles in the trees, along with many hummingbirds at the feeders, some rare hawks overhead, and increased activity at the pond. Bring binos, bird guides, and cameras if you are photographically inclined! Hassayampa River Preserve is a former Nature Conservancy preserve that is now owned and operated by Maricopa County. There is a nice visitor's center with new restrooms, and the parking lot has been expanded. There are about 2 miles of gentle trails thru a variety of beautiful habitats. Admission is $5. This will undoubtedly be an exciting morning, and conditions for birding should be perfect! To reach Hassayampa, take the US60 towards Wickenburg; about 2 miles from town, there is a left exit across the highway into the preserve. Afterwards, we'll head back into Surprise to State 48 Brewery at 13823 W. Bell Rd (just east of Litchfield) to discuss our sightings and enjoy a little lunch and our favorite beverages! Anyone interested in carpooling out can meet me at State 48 at 7:15am; otherwise, we'll rendezvous at the visitor's center at 8am.
The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is a popular location for east valley birders, but this will by my first visit there. Established in 1924 as a non-profit research institution, BTA's mission is to "instill in people an appreciation of plants through the fostering of educational, recreational, research, and conservation opportunities associated with arid-land plants." Since it hosts a wide variety of native and non-native trees and plants, it also provides excellent habitat for a large number of birds of all types! E-bird reports 170 species logged in April, including tanagers, grosbeaks, warblers, sparrows, flycatchers, buntings, vireos, hawks, hummingbirds, and many others! There are 3 miles of trails and paths, and all should be easily accessible. BTA is an hour east of the valley on US60, near the town of Superior. I will be carpooling from the west valley with anyone that wants to go; I suggest east valley birders make arrangements to carpool as well. Remember to bring your binos, cameras, bird books, and spotting scope if you have one! Also bring plenty of water, as it may be hot by late morning. Admission is $15 unless you are a BTA member. Afterwards, we will make our way to the Handelbar Pub and Grill, 650 Apache Trail Rd, AJ. As we head back in from Superior, we will take the E. Old West Highway exit from US60, which will eventually turn into Apache Trail. Alternatively, you can take US60 to Idaho Rd, exit and go north to Apache Trail. Handlebar Pub appears to be a simple no-frills place with good food and beer, and with good reviews. (I am open to suggestion though, if any of you east siders have a better place in mind.)
Madera Canyon is a well-known birding hot spot in SE Arizona, famous for the majestic Elegant Trogon and other beautiful birds not normally seen in the US. It is located about 25 miles south of Tucson, in the Santa Rita mountains east of I-19 just south of the town of Green Valley. There are many areas to bird, from the scrublands around Florida Wash to the forested trails in the upper canyon. The Santa Rita lodge (about halfway up the canyon) has a viewing area with comfortable seating and numerous feeders that attract a variety of hummers and other bird life, including wild turkeys. This trip will involve some moderate hiking over fairly well maintained forest trails at a moderately high elevation, so is probably not suitable for anyone with health or mobility issues. My plan will be to leave home about 9am Saturday, carpooling with anyone who wants to come. We should arrive at the lower canyon area by 12:30 or 1:00pm after grabbing a fast-food lunch in Tucson or Green Valley. We'll spend the afternoon birding the lower canyon areas until 5pm or so, then head back to our hotel for drinks, dining, and discussion. There are several hotels in Green Valley, but availability of rooms may be limited. I've stayed at the Vagabond Inn before, and rooms there are around $70 right now. Or if people prefer, we can stay in Tucson and enjoy the evening there. On Sunday, we will try to arrive in the upper parking lot by 8:30am, since parking is limited and fills up quickly. We'll bird the upper canyon trails and picnic areas and probably work our way back to the Santa Rita Lodge to look at the feeders before departing around noon. We'll stop for a quick lunch somewhere before heading home. We should be back to Phoenix by 4 or 5pm Sunday afternoon. You can attend either day of course, if your schedule does not allow you to spend the night Saturday. These plans are still tentative, and I will work with those of you interested in coming to finalize the details, departure times, and hotel info.
The spring migration will be in full swing today, and you will be absolutely charmed by the beauty and great variety of birds you'll see on this visit! Several varieties of kingbirds and flycatchers should be present, along with tanagers, orioles, vireos, and warblers of every description. Expect to see hawks overhead and perhaps kingfishers at the pond. As usual, bring your binos, camera, guide book, and water bottles. Hassayampa River Preserve is a former Nature Conservancy preserve that is now owned and operated by Maricopa County. There is a nice visitor's center with new restrooms with a drinking fountain for refilling your water bottles if needed. There are about 2 miles of easily accessible trails thru a variety of beautiful habitats. Admission is $5. Temperatures should still be pleasant, since many of the trails are shaded and near the water. To reach Hassayampa, take the US60 towards Wickenburg; about 2 miles from town, there is a left exit across the highway into the preserve. Afterwards, we'll head back into Surprise to Irish Wolfhound pub, 16811 N. Litchfield #102 (Bell and Litchfield) to discuss our sightings and enjoy a little lunch and our favorite beverages! Anyone wishing to carpool can meet at Irish Wolfhound about 6:45am.