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Posts Tagged ‘Ramsey Canyon’

My grandson, JJ, found Ramsey Canyon a treat from the normal Sonoran Desert Landscape. So did I. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My grandson, JJ, found Ramsey Canyon a treat from the normal Sonoran Desert Landscape. So did I. — Photo by Pat Bean

Painted Redstart -- Wikimedia Photo

Painted Redstart — Wikimedia Photo

“Solitary converse with nature; for thence are ejaculated sweet and dreadful words never uttered in libraries. Ah! the spring days, the summer dawns, and October woods!” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Desert Oasis – And a Red-Faced Warbler         

If numbers counted, the painted redstart was the bird of the day when my 16-year-old grandson, JJ, and I hiked Ramsey Canyon this past weekend. But in my book, the bird of the day was the one in which I got a brief glimpse, just long enough to see its striking face before it resumed flittering high among the thick leafy branches of a half-dozen tall trees.

It was a red-faced warbler, and a lifer for me, the 708th bird species I have seen. While I watched it, and another, flitting about for at least 10 minutes, that one glimpse as it settled briefly on a tree limb that was in the open, was the only one in which I could identify it.

Warbler, red-faced. I saw one up Ramsey Canyon

Red-faced warbler. — Wikimedia photo

The warblers were flying with about a half-dozen redstarts, and it was impossible for me to tell which was which when they were moving. Both birds are similar in size, although the redstart is slightly larger. The two species are rarely seen outside of Southeast Arizona or Southwest New Mexico when they migrate up from Mexico and South America for the spring and summer.

I saw my first painted redstart, back in 2006, in Zion National Park, which is located in Southern Utah.

This day, in Arizona’s Ramsey Canyon, these beautiful redstarts, with their black bodies, red bellies and distinctive white wing bars, were just about everywhere along the creek-side hike. It wasn’t until the trail reached the top of the main trail, where it looped across Ramsey Creek before heading back down to the trailhead, that I saw the warblers.

My grandson and I joined a half-dozen other birders on the lookout for them after someone noted they had spotted a red-faced warbler. Thankfully, I had my binoculars focused on the branch when the only one I could identify landed briefly.

What a treat.

My grandson, however, was more excited about seeing four white-tailed deer as we hiked, and the fantastic giant trees that grew beside the creek, which laughed and gurgled its way over rocks and down small waterfalls as it made its way down the canyon.

These things excited me, too. The red-faced warbler was just the chocolate syrup on rich French vanilla ice cream, which is always good enough to eat without any topping.

            Bean Pat: A Totem Town http://tinyurl.com/nn6gqxj A great armchair travel blog. I’ve been to this town, and loved it, too.

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fall leaves

Autumn in Ramsey Canyon. — Photo by Pat Bean

 

  “I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me — I am happy.” — Hamlin Garland, McClure’s, February 1899

Point of Interest for a Non-Wandering Wanderer           

Miniature waterfalls were around every bend. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Miniature waterfalls were around every bend. — Photo by Pat Bean

  Ramsey Canyon, south of Tucson, is one of North America’s hottest birding spots – but not in November. In November, it is just a delightful place for a hike and a delicious feast for the eyes.

My son Lewis and I got to the  Nature Conservancy visitor center early, and paid our $6 to gain access to the canyon. The first two amazing things I noticed different from the usual Sonoran Desert landscape was water in the form of a spring-fed stream bubbling down the canyon — and trees, lots of tall, stately giants, and broad-branched monarchs that made me want to clamber up into their arms.

My son Lewis near the start of the trail. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My son Lewis near the start of the trail. — Photo by Pat Bean

Lewis said it was the trees, which Tucson lacked, that kept me oohing and ahhing almost continually.

But we have trees in Tucson, I said.

“Not like these, or this many,” he replied

He was right. While my apartment complex does have a few, out-of-habitat and bedraggled evergreens, and a few black olive trees, most of the ones I see around Tucson are short mesquites and leafless, green-trunked palo verdes. .

Growing tall and regal between Ramsey’s Canyon walls were maples and sycamores. The towering and mottled-white limbs of the sycamores were enchanting, as were the autumn leaves of the maple trees, sights I don’t normally see in Tucson proper.

Located in the Huachuca Mountains, the canyon is renowned for its scenic beauty, its diversity of plants, and the birds that visit it in the spring and summer. The one other time I visited it, about eight years ago on an April day, I went for the birds – and was not disappointed. While I only saw a few birds this trip, I was still not disappointed.

Painted redstart.

Painted redstart.

The Ramsey Canyon hike is only a mile up and back, although hikers can add some length to the trail by continuing on to the top of a ridge, which Lewis did. I chose to hike back down canyon slowly, taking time to breathe in Mother Nature’s beauty and to take some photographs.

As I crossed a bridge near a splash and play area, I was rewarded with the sight of a pair of painted redstarts. I felt that Lewis, also an avid birder, would be put out that he hadn’t seen them. Thankfully the bird wouldn’t be a lifer for him. And when I told him about the redstart, he was too happy he had seen an Arizona woodpecker, which was a lifer, to envy my sighting.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat A Window into the Woods http://tinyurl.com/k2wrq5a Now that my son, Lewis, is back home in Texas, these are birds he can see every day.

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