Friday, 1 May 2015

ARIZONA 2015: San Pedro House and Ramsey Canyon (30 April and 1 May)

April 30th.  We were a day behind schedule and had to make some decisions about where to go in the time we had.  The best option seemed to be to cut out Green Valley and Madeira Canyon and stay in Sierra Vista a second night.  Fortunately we were able to make the change with no penalty and after breakfast set out for San Pedro House where we walked several of the trails.  I saw Gila Woodpecker, Gilder Flicker, Lucy's Warbler and Abert's Towee, all of which were new.  The warbler was the first bird to really respond to pishing and came straight in.  Other warblers present were Wilson's, Yellow, Yellow-rumped and Yellowthroat.  We reluctantly left the San Pedro House (at least I did!) and drove to Tombstone which wasn't as tacky as I had anticipated with quite an effort made to maintain the historic buildings.   We did however avoid the 'authentic gunfights' of which several were on offer, or a stagecoach ride.  Next stop was Fairbank, named in 1883 after Nathaniel Kellogg Fairbank from Chicago who partly financed the railroad (unlikely to have been a rich ancestor, pity).   Deserted since the mid-1970s it is apparently the best preserved ghost town in the area.  Its main claim to fame had been a failed train robbery in 1900 when Express Messenger Jeff Milton had been wounded but fought off the Burt Alvord gang mortally wounding member 'three-fingered Jack' Dunlop in the process.  On the way back to Sierra Vista we saw a Greater Roadrunner on the road and later I returned to the San Pedro House and added Plubeous Vireo and Bullock's Orioles taking my new bird total to 6 for the day.
a ringed White-crowned Sparrow at San Pedro House
heading for the river trail
Gilded Flicker
male Black-chinned Hummingbird
female on a feeder
Great Blue Heron (I could pretend I was on Bryher watching a 2nd for Britain)
returning to San Pedro House
the deserted main street at Tombstone
Gila Woodpecker outside the museum
Stagecoach on the main street
gunfighters between performances
Fairbank Post Office
it closed in the 1970s
Fairbank schoolhouse

view from the cemetery
the next generation
Vermilion Flycatcher on my return to San Pedro House
Canyon Towee
the day finished as it had started, with a photogenic White-crowned Sparrow, this one unringed
May 1st.  We left Sierra Vista and spent a very pleasant morning at Ramsey Canyon walking up the Hamburg Trail to its junction with Brown Canyon Trail.  According to my guide book this is the best place in the Huachuca Mountains for Red-faced Warbler which was one of my most wanted birds.  Ramsey Canyon had several hummingbird feeders, for which it is renowned, and a Broad-billed Hummingbird was new for me although we were a bit early in the season for most others.  It was a pleasant walk up the canyon then a steep zig-zag climb up the Hamburg Trail to a nice area of mixed woodland.  Two stunning Red-faced Warblers were quickly found and 2 Virginia's on the way back were a bonus.  I also saw Hammond's Flycatcher, Hutton's Vireo, Painted Redstart and Northern Hepatic Tanager but a resident Whiskered Screech-Owl failed to stick its head out of its nest hole and in the time available I failed to find a roosting Northern Pygmy Owl I had been given very vague second-hand directions for.  We left Ramsey Canyon and drove two plus hours to Tucson where we checked into our run-down motel and walked into town.  The downtown area had very little to recommend it being almost entirely modern office buildings.  On the way back a Greater Roadrunner was walking around a deserted parking lot nearby but I'd not thought to take my camera with me.

very smart butterfly
out of focus displaying Wild Turkey

it looked better from behind!
another was nearby
it didn't look any nicer
Raven at nest
the upper reaches of Ramsey Canyon
looking back down
a static airship we assumed was something to do with border patrol

a likely spot for Red-faced Warbler
it was
but the autofocus didn't recognise it
returning down Ramsey Canyon
Cooper's Hawk

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